by Alex Well
Looking for tips to manage your remote ecommerce team effectively?
Keep reading and you'll get what you want.
Building a team of thorough eCommerce professionals is a tall order. Add 'remote' to this equation and the task becomes even more challenging.
But the pandemic forced most businesses to adopt the remote way of working. In the US alone, the share of people working remotely went up significantly after the pandemic. Refer to the data below shared by Statista.
The pandemic accelerated the remote trend. But businesses experienced the benefits of going remote; hence, there's a consensus that the remote way of working will persist post-COVID.
Here's why the remote working model seems to work for eCommerce businesses.
A study by Global Workplace Analytics shares that if employees are allowed to work from home just half of the time, a company could save on an average $11,000 per employee. Moreover, everyone saves time otherwise spent in daily commuting.
Going fully remote allows you to save on office real estate and other overheads. It enables your team to save money on fuel. All this leads to immense cost savings, allowing eCommerce entrepreneurs to manage finances in a better manner.
ECommerce brands like Linjer have been harnessing the power of remote work for a long time. By going the remote way, this direct-to-consumer firm has cut out the unnecessary costs and crazy markups that make luxury watches and bags expensive.
Going remote improves work-life balance, positively contributing to employee morale and productivity. In a FlexJobs survey, 95% of the respondents shared that working remotely enhanced their productivity. That's because remote working has fewer interruptions, quieter work environments (unlike the office), and more focused time.
Moreover, the remote work culture is good for an employee's wellbeing. A survey by Mental Health America points out that remote working and flexible work hours have a positive impact on the employee's mental health and quality of life. This leads to job satisfaction and better work efficiency.
When you get rid of the geographic obstacles, you gain access to a larger talent pool. Hence, you get to build a diverse team of talented people coming from different backgrounds who can work around the clock in any time zone.
A typical eCommerce firm sees hundreds of SKUs that need constant product additions and updates. The team has to deal with multiple suppliers and offer exceptional customer service, round the clock.
Having a remote team across the globe helps eCommerce businesses accomplish these tasks in real-time, giving them a competitive advantage.
Remote working is good for business and the environment. Commuting to work adds tons of greenhouse gases that are an environmental concern. So, incorporating remote work policies positions your business as a responsible and environmentally conscious brand.
However, remote working comes with several challenges.
Firstly, there's limited interaction between the teams. Collaboration can be tricky. The geographical distance between the team members makes it challenging for people to directly collaborate on projects. Moreover, in the eCommerce industry, it may seem disjointed to design, produce, and market a physical product with a distributed team.
But eCommerce businesses can also jump on the bandwagon and harness the power of remote working. In this post, we have practical tips on how you can smartly manage your remote eCommerce team and boost profits.
Remote teams often crave those informal office interactions that encourage collaboration. Failing to create open communication can lead to new forms of miscommunication and misunderstandings, especially when all the interaction is happening digitally. Hence, it's important to keep the remote communication fluid.
First things first - invest in communication and collaboration tools that can bring your team together on one platform. This will empower them to collaborate on projects and reduce significant delays in work progress, frustration, and decreased team efficiency.
For instance, Tortuga, an eCommerce firm that sells travel bags and luggage accessories, has had a fully remote team from the beginning. The firm uses productivity tools like Slack, a tool that keeps all communication styles (email, text messaging, and instant messaging) together in one app. Thus, the team can collaborate on projects regardless of their location.
Further, if you've been working remotely for a long time, constantly ask the team for feedback on the remote working policy. If you have a large team across departments, choose one person who can represent each section, allowing you to get a clear picture of the challenges they face. This will also encourage a positive remote culture.
In the remote working model, managers have little control over the team. Yet, it's critical to trust your teammates and give them the freedom to work and contribute to projects.
Micromanaging can show poorly on the firm's image. It will annoy your team and hamper productivity. Instead, it's wise to communicate to the team how much you trust them.
Also, organize one-to-one meetings to discuss company goals, performance, KPIs, and job satisfaction. This can be done weekly or monthly to align the team with the company goals and culture.
The Buffer's State of Remote Working Report points to the fact that 40% of remote workers value flexibility. They see flexible work schedules as a top benefit; it's a reflection of how much the firm respects employee needs and constraints.
Most companies shy away from offering flexibility as it presents a few challenges. The common concerns that come in the way are -
Though these concerns are justifiable, they can be managed. For instance, you can start by helping your team understand how the individual tasks fit into the larger picture and help achieve company goals. This will develop a sense of accountability.
Secondly, make expectations explicitly clear to avoid confusion. For instance, define key milestones, goals, and success metrics and discuss them regularly.
Finally, count on technologies like collaboration tools, cloud-based systems, wireless devices, and video conferencing to keep a track of the flexible work schedules and boost productivity.
For instance, you can invest in work management tools like Trello, Wrike, and Freedcamp to give team members and managers a bird's eye view of projects.
Similarly, for onboarding and training new employees, invest in a digital adoption platform. We've researched a few tools. We recommend these Walkme alternatives for training virtual employees to adapt to working using your collaboration technologies
There's more to a thriving remote eCommerce business than just profits or conversions. The company culture is just as important!
Make sure you build a positive remote working culture by encouraging open communication with and among the team. Routinely check if your team members are being able to manage the workload.
In a remote setting, it can be tough to create a sense of camaraderie. Host a series of team-building activities from time to time to strengthen solidarity and togetherness in your team.
For instance, virtual happy hours and competitive online games can play a big role in making your team feel motivated.
The remote work model offers flexibility, reduced costs, and freedom without compromising on the quality of work and productivity. Hence, it is perfect for eCommerce businesses that aim at maximizing efficiency and improving customer service.
Use the tips shared above to build a happy and productive virtual team for your eCommerce business.
Tim Ferguson is a writer and editor of Marketing Digest. He enjoys writing about SEO, content marketing, online reputation management, social media, AI, and Big Data. When he is not writing and editing for Marketing Digest, he spends time on learning more about content marketing and getting better at it.
About Alex Well