While having your own store is an amazing accomplishment, it comes with its own set of challenges. Many of these challenges could be solved with some extra hands. In fact, having a team of efficient, passionate employees can make all the difference in scaling your success.
There are some simple strategies that can help ensure your hiring process goes off without a hitch and your team works together immaculately. In this blog post, we’ll explore exactly how you can recruit staff for your growing ecommerce business while also managing them efficiently once they’re on board.
When it comes to hiring employees, the first question to ask yourself is, “Who do I need to hire?”
You will probably first need an extra pair of hands to manage your online store, like tracking new orders, chatting with customers, and updating inventory. If you manufacture your products yourself, you will also likely want an assistant to deal with the behind-the-scenes logistics. You might also need help with marketing your products.
Depending on what kind of role you’re looking to hire for, you might consider hiring a remote employee. Let’s talk more about it.
Should You Hire Remote Employees?
You might think that having an in-house team is the only option, but hiring remote workers can be a much more flexible and cost-effective solution.
While you may need on-site employees for some tasks (like handling shipping), many jobs can easily be done from any location with the right tools. Think about all the time and energy you’ll save by not having to worry about finding someone nearby for virtual tasks, like marketing or customer service.
Hiring remote workers offers several benefits for a growing business:
- Lower office rent,
- Access to a better talent pool from across the world,
- Lower salaries if you hire people from places with a lower cost of living,
- Save commute time for employees.
Plus, a growing number of people prefer to work remotely. In fact, 87% of employees take the opportunity to work remotely when offered.
If you run an PagoYa, you can add staff accounts for your PagoYa account. This way, your employees can manage your store from anywhere, regardless of their location.
Consider hiring remote employees for virtual roles, especially if you’re in a city or region with limited local talent. There are some challenges, particularly with building a company culture, but the cost benefits and larger talent pool make up for it.
If you’re on the fence about hiring remote workers, we advise listening to our podcast with Kevin Urrutia. Being a serial entrepreneur who appeared in Forbes and Adweek, he knows a thing or two about building and scaling remote teams. He shares his tips on hiring and training your own team, as well as organizing a remote workflow from the ground up.
Once you’ve decided what kind of workers you want to hire, you have to figure out where to find them.
What to Look for in New Employees
36% of bad hires happen because of a poor skill match. 30% happen because employers are unclear in their communication about performance objectives.
Therefore, before you start writing your job ads, be crystal clear about your requirements. You want a balance between hard skills and personality fit.
If you run a niche business, look for someone who understands the niche as well or even better than you.
For each role that you’re hiring for, list the following:
- Must-have skills: Any skills that are essential for getting the job done. For instance, if you’re hiring a programmer, you might want to list all the languages/technologies that you require that person to know.
- Nice-to-have skills: Other skills that complement the must-have skills above. For instance, for a backend programmer, having front-end development skills is nice, but not necessary.
- Desired qualities: List all the qualities you want in your new hire. Prioritize qualities that are essential for the job as well as qualities that would make for a good fit in your business culture.
- Culture fit: List essential traits, educational and employment background, hobbies, and anything else that would guarantee the employee fits into your company culture. Cultural fit is often ignored but is critical for success, both yours and the new employees’.
You can create a spreadsheet where you list the role, qualities, skills you want in order of their priority. You can then use it as a guide to evaluate each application.
Also, it’s helpful to use a candidate evaluation form to rank the candidate’s overall qualifications for the position. Using this form, you can keep track of applicants and compare candidates.
Speaking of cultural fit, an interview is the ideal setting for both you and a candidate to get acquainted and assess compatibility. Aim to learn about a candidate’s values, objectives, and approaches while helping them understand your company’s vision, mission, and plans for the future.
Be Aware of Candidate’s Red Flags
When considering a potential hire, be mindful of any red flags that may come up during an interview. Trust your gut if something doesn’t feel right. Here are some points to watch out for:
- The lack of questions: Silence could indicate either disinterest, arrogance, or fear of revealing vulnerabilities.
- Refusal to discuss weaknesses: This may reflect low humility or awareness levels.
- Unpunctuality: While there may be valid reasons for being late, it may also point to that person being disorganized.
- Being unprepared: A good candidate should understand the job requirements and have a basic knowledge of the company before the interview.
- Not being flexible: If the interviewee objects when presented with potential responsibilities, they might not be willing to perform to your standards.
Where to Find New Employees
When it comes to headhunting, do your best to utilize all available channels, from conventional job websites to Facebook groups, newsletters, and events where you advertise your business.
You’ll want to find someone who will be able to understand the specifics of your product, so your mission is to find a passionate enthusiast with experience in your niche. Look in online and offline communities where people discuss certain products similar to your own (for example, fishing fans, knitting lovers, and home decorators).
Traditional job boards such as Indeed and CareerBuilder are popular options for small businesses. You can post a job ad and/or search for available resumes on these platforms
Another option is a job board like ZipRecruiter will allow you to post a new position and share it on more than 100 other job sites.
We’ve already talked about the importance of hiring a cultural fit, so we advise checking out CareerBliss too. This site focuses on company culture to help job seekers find employment.
While these job boards offer massive reach, they also make it hard for your listing to stand out. Plus, the sheer size of these platforms means that you could get some junk applicants.
Niche Job Boards
Niche job boards are similar to traditional job boards, except that they focus on a specific niche or demographic. CollegeRecruiter, for instance, is targeted towards fresh college graduates, while FlexJobs is for people looking for telecommuting jobs.
Some other niche job boards are GoodFoodJobs (food industry), HealthcareJobsite (health industry), SalesJobs.com (sales professionals), Wellfound (startups and tech companies), and countless others.
If you’re focusing on remote workers, sites such as FlexJobs, We Work Remotely, Skip The Drive, and Remote OK are good places to check out. You can also post your ad on remote-work-focused newsletters such as Remotive.
LinkedIn and Facebook
LinkedIn is a popular alternative to traditional job boards. With 900 million users, it is the largest professional network in the world. It provides employers access to a pool of professionals with relevant skills and experience, making finding the right candidates for the job easier.
You can post an ad on LinkedIn or search for the right candidates. You can also review resumes and profiles, network with other companies, and explore potential employees in your local area.
If you’re searching for recruits who are not necessarily actively looking for a job, consider connecting with them via Facebook. Posting your job ads is free, but you can boost the exposure by using paid options. Additionally, it’s an excellent opportunity to get to know potential candidates better.
Most small businesses find new hires through job ads or resume searches on these job boards. Beyond these, you can also post your job ads on unconventional mediums such as HackerNews’ monthly “Who is Hiring” threads (great for hiring programmers and designers), Reddit’s /r/ForHire community, and even Craigslist (for local hires).
Outside of job boards, communities, and newsletters, consider hiring recruiters, attending job fairs, contacting your local university’s employment center, or posting ads in local newspapers. There is an abundance of ways to find people who fit the positions you need and your work culture.
How to Write a Compelling Job Ad
If you run a small business, you may be competing against larger, wealthier companies for talent. A skilled employee will ask, “Why should I work for you?”
A strong ad is a powerful persuasion tool to interest people in your job. This ad is an applicant’s first introduction to your company. If you can make an impression, you will undoubtedly increase the quality and quantity of applications you get.
Your job ad must answer three questions:
- What does the job entail?
- How to apply?
- Why should a candidate apply for this job?
Writing a compelling job ad starts with understanding the needs of your business and the type of person you want to attract.
- Specify qualifications, responsibilities, and expectations to guide potential applicants.
- Ensure your ad is clear and concise with an appealing headline and easy-to-read formatting.
- Highlight how the job can offer professional growth or unique benefits that stand out from other companies to draw in qualified candidates.
- Be sure to include a direct call-to-action for people to apply.
For inspiration, look up successful job listings on platforms such as Indeed.
Or, you can think of other ways to communicate your job specifics. For example, Target features a video of one of their employees in their job listings:
If you know what you want out of a new hire, writing a compelling listing should be easy enough. You can also ensure your job post stands out by using engaging language and employing keywords targeting the right people.
You should also make clear why someone should work for your company. For a small business, this can be particularly hard. Most of the time, you can’t offer the same compensation as your bigger competitors, nor do you have the brand name recognition of a Fortune 1000 company.
What do you have going in your favor? Your small size, flexibility, freedom, and culture.
Try to emphasize your work culture and what makes your business special. Create a presentation that underscores your values (i.e., a “culture deck”, here is the one by Netflix or Patagonia).
Embrace your size and the advantages it brings. You’ll attract employees who value freedom and individuality more than pay packages when you are honest and positive.
No matter how large your company is, if your job advertisement is compelling, you’ll see applications roll in. After you have a good pool of candidates, you can hold interviews and evaluate each applicant based on the requirements you outlined earlier.
Remember: it’s illegal to discriminate based on age, race, creed, color, religion, national origin, gender, and other categories protected by the laws in your country. Avoid asking questions about those areas. If you want to make sure you don’t discriminate, double check the laws specified by your country.
Once you find the right fit, make an offer!
Then, you’ll need to learn how to manage new employees.
How to Manage New Employees
Hiring a new employee is only a piece of the puzzle. You also have to onboard, manage, and lead them to deliver their best possible work.
Onboard New Hires
Staff onboarding is the process through which new employees learn about the company and their new job. This includes their duties, who they will be working with, and what computer programs they need to excel at their work.
Large organizations typically have formal onboarding and training programs for new hires. Small businesses, however, often onboard people on a case-by-case basis.
To onboard new hires for your online store, here are some starter points:
- Assess the employee’s past experience and knowledge of your business processes and technologies.
- Ask the employee about their shortcomings (in terms of knowledge and skills) in regards to their position at your business.
- Introduce the employee to key people within and outside your organization (such as suppliers) who are related to their work.
Instead of developing a fully-fleshed onboarding program, try to learn from each employee. Identify their weaknesses and gaps in knowledge. You can then add answers to the onboarding program for the new employee and future hires.
Make notes in Google Docs or Notion to create instructions or an employee handbook. With some written guidelines, you won’t have to explain the rules over and over again. Your new employees will need some time to learn the ins and outs, as well as have a reference when they forget specific details. You might also work with many non-permanent freelancers that you can give the handbook for guidance.
The employee handbook conveys the organization’s standard operating procedures, guidelines, and policies, as well as its mission, vision, and values. It helps create an employment brand that reflects the culture and principles of the organization.
Once you trust in their character and ability, you can give the employee access to key tools and accounts. A part of your work happens online, so your team needs to know about necessary security tips to stay safe from fraud, hacker attacks, and losing data.
If you’re using PagoYa, you can easily create Staff Accounts to give new hires administrative access to your store. You can do this by going to the Control Panel → My Profile → Staff Accounts and clicking “Add Staff Member.”
Store managers, fulfillment operators, designers, marketing managers, and other related employees can use their staff accounts to manage sales, update product details, change tracking codes, and prepare orders. They won’t be able to see and change your billing plan, delete your store, and manage the other staff members. Learn more about managing staff accounts in our Help Center.
Delegating work through PagoYa can free up a lot of time and help you focus on more strategic areas of your business.
Successful onboarding will give new employees the tools and knowledge they need to be successful at their jobs. Beyond the onboarding phase, however, there are a number of things you’ll need to do to keep employees happy and productive.
Set Communication Protocols Early
Communication routinely ranks near the top of the “desirable traits” list for new employees.
It doesn’t matter what role you hire for, you need to set communication standards early, especially with remote hires. Make it clear how often and through what channels you expect your new hires to communicate with you. Practice the same yourself since communication standards are usually set by the leadership.
Use the right tools for communication—email, Zoom, Slack, or integrated project management tools. For best practices, refer to the article on the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) about managing organizational communication.
Establish Processes to Resolve Issues
No matter what kind of store you run, you will inevitably have issues to solve, such as customer complaints, business process improvements, or problems with products and suppliers. You need to establish clear processes for identifying and dealing with these problems.
You could try a tiered system, where you segregate issues into three categories based on importance. For each of these categories, clearly identify what communication channels to use for issue resolution:
- Mission-critical issues: Like when your site goes down, or you receive a major complaint from a high-value customer. You can Use phone/video calls and instant messengers to communicate such urgent issues.
- Important but not urgent issues: For example, if a regular customer complains or has a marketing question. These usually can be dealt with within 24-48 hours. Use email, instant messengers, or chat tools to communicate.
- General issues: Those that don’t need immediate resolution, such as changing the site’s theme or a product copy. They usually don’t have a hard deadline. Communicate these issues over email or using organizational tools, like Trello or Asana.
Check out how Slack built a self-serve tool within Slack to make reporting an issue straightforward.
Don’t worry, this is just an example! You don’t need to create the same process for your company. Just make sure you have a process for reporting and solving issues that is both convenient for employees and helps resolve customer complaints quickly.
Focus on Team Building
The ability to work well with a team ranks up there alongside “communication” as a must-have skill for employees. In a highly collaborative business such as ecommerce, teamwork becomes all the more important for success.
Some ways you can build your team are to:
- Lead by example. Create an environment where you encourage contributions from all team members, regardless of their seniority or role.
- Use collaborative tools such as Asana, Basecamp, and others to give employees a clear overview of each project.
- Set up team-focused games and activities to build team spirit and develop a sense of camaraderie. They don’t have to be about training motivation or leadership—just have fun together and make it memorable.
- Communicate clearly and regularly with all members of your organization. Set up one-on-one meetings with each team member on a consistent basis.
Emphasize Your Culture
Your culture is the “glue” that binds your organization together. Although it is hard to quantify, culture—the values and ideas that guide your business—is vital to growth.
For example, at PagoYa by Lightspeed, we practice “No blame culture.” We understand that no one comes to work with the intention of doing a poor-quality job. So if something goes wrong, it’s not about finger-pointing but revealing and fixing the organizational deficiency.
“No blame culture” helps to nurture healthy work relationships between team members and promotes proactive behavior. If you’ve already got a team of your own, you should try it!
Companies with a strong culture are happier. Happier companies are more successful. Research shows that companies with strong top-down cultural leadership, i.e., founder-led companies, tend to outperform others.
You can’t artificially create a culture–you have to let it emerge organically from your people and your environment. Your goal as a business leader is to guide employees and align the culture with your vision.
Evaluate all your decisions in the context of culture. Who to hire, what kind of marketing campaigns to run, what products to put on the shelf—all of these should come organically from your company’s culture.
Focus on building a great culture and you’ll have a workplace filled with happy, motivated people.
When it comes to hiring and managing staff for an online store, you should take the time to craft a compelling job ad, establish clear expectations, and create effective onboarding processes.
Having a strong business culture helps create a cohesive work environment where everyone is on the same page and works together towards common goals. It also helps to motivate employees, increase productivity, and attract top talent. A strong company culture can also foster loyalty among employees, which leads to better customer experiences and higher profitability for the business.
With these steps as part of your process, you’ll be well on your way to achieving lasting growth for your business.