E-commerce is disruptive. This has changed the way millions of people shop. But the management of many e-commerce companies has not evolved. It often works, apparently, as an old world dictatorship or a feud.
Running a business, especially in an industry as dynamic as e-commerce, can be stressful. This requires a strategy, vision and day-to-day decisions, if it’s minutes to the minute.
E-commerce managers must keep up with trends in technology, marketing, products, customer service and small shipments. These same leaders can also manage relationships with employees, suppliers, and customers. The burden can be overwhelming, especially as companies move from startup status to mid-market.
Too many ecommerce companies do not understand that there is more than one way to run a business or set a management structure. This does not necessarily imply a strict hierarchy and static job descriptions. In fact, these approaches could hurt your business and its ability to grow.
The following are several ideas for organizing and running an e-commerce business in 2018 and beyond. Some of them are concepts that may seem revolutionary. But, again, e-commerce is too.
Sometimes it makes sense to work on your business – not just in your business – as evaluating the current management structure.
Perhaps the most radical suggestion on this list is Holacracy, which is a method for executing determined, receptive and self-managed businesses.
The inventor of Holacracy, Brian J. Robertson, suggested in a Future Work podcast that if you wanted to understand Holacracy, you should think about how cities are organized.
“Look at the inner workings of corporate structure, it looks like a feudal empire,” Robertson said. “There are [are] kings and lords and barons and peasants, and it’s really like that [they are] structured.” It’s broken down into a feudal hierarchy with very fuzzy limits on who can say what to who. “
Today, however, feudal systems are “rather obsolete and outdated,” Robertson continued
“When you look at a modern city, it’s very different – it’s not a feudal empire at all – it’s actually a whole bunch of people each with their own type of property and territory, as well as their home and business, all cooperating in different ways within the framework of rules.
“So the order is not imposed up and down by a king telling the peasants what to do … instead the order emerges from a framework of rules and free actors in this setting to go do what suits them – do their work in the world – and this method, this mode of organization, has quite impressive results.
“When you look at a modern city … when cities double in size, productivity per capita increases …. But in a business, it’s exactly the opposite.” When companies double in size, you get more bureaucracy, more waste and everything slows down. “
Holacracy is about making workplaces more like thriving and thriving cities. This is the case of Zappos, who used Holacracy to become a respected leader in e-commerce.
If you’re frustrated with how your business works, think about Holacracy.
E-commerce organizations compete with software. An online seller could beat its competition because of its technology. This is probably the case right now for merchants who have adopted progressive web applications, HTTP / 2 compression and even Gzip compression.
Given this insistence, consider a requirement of all codes-codes or almost everyone for employees.
An understanding of how web technologies work and what it would take to add functionality should help employees make better decisions or even set better goals.
Everyone helps the customers
Similar to a global code policy, some e-commerce transactions may consider an approach based on the principle of “everyone is in customer service”.
For example, imagine an ecommerce company that offers live chat services to its customers. Maybe every employee, from the CEO to the search optimizer, must take the initiative to discuss, answer questions and concerns of consumers.
This exercise can help people in key roles better understand how to serve consumers. This could help these key employees identify significant barriers for buyers who, if removed, would significantly improve sales.
Hiring Remote Workers
It can be difficult in some cases to manage workers remotely. The reward, however, is worth it.
Remote workers are often more productive, more loyal and more profitable for your business.
Imagine that your company hires an experienced marketing manager. The best candidate, the person who has the right mix of experience and interest, might not be located in the same city as your company.
This ideal candidate is probably at least mid-career and has important connections to her community. She is not likely to move for your business. But she might be willing to work for your business from its location.
Your business will have to decide whether it is more important to make sure everyone is in the same place or to make sure you hire the best candidates for the job.