Who To Hire? Agencies, Ecommerce Managers, Consultants
When it comes to hiring to continue growing your eCommerce brand, there are a few factors that you need to be aware of to make the best decision. Each time we speak to a new or prospective client, we often have these types of conversations, not only to ensure and solidify how our partnership will work with them but also to educate them on the benefits and or potential roadblocks that could come up in hiring us externally versus hiring someone internally. The services that we provide could and are realistically available to a business owner through a series of direct internal hires, or perhaps by hiring an agency, so it’s very important for us to breakdown what it looks like to the client to partner externally with us, sometimes instead of making those hires, or finding an agency to contract with.
If you’re in a position where these types of questions about you, typically, it’s pretty early on in the life of your business. This might not always be the case, as we have clients that have grown fairly large, maybe they have a large wholesale presence but have not shifted their focus or allocated the resources to eCommerce yet. The main thing to remember is that you have options. There are options to hire internally and externally find some resources you might still need, or options in partnering fully externally with an agency or company that has all the resources for you. This depends on the business and the timing.
Analyzing Your Current Resources
The first step would be to analyze what and who you currently have as resources that could help manage the growth of your eCommerce business. There may be potential experience and background under your roof that you may be unaware of, who might be able to move into or take on that position, just be sure to verify their experience to vet them properly. If you do not have this person, look to hire them. This means being aware of what you’re looking for. We tend to find with companies that are just starting in eCommerce that they lack the understanding or fail to have their expectations dialed in before they make a hire. Often they are shocked to learn that there are many external resources needed to get certain aspects or even overall goals and plans of this position accomplished. We’ve been on this side of the brand, and what tends to happen is this one hire is then handed unrealistic expectations, or made to feel that they need to handle everything themselves. This leads to a situation where your employee spends their time being very reactive and unable to dig themselves out of the weeds. They’ll likely never get ahead, which is not the position you or they want to be in. This is huge because one of the overall goals we set for our clients is to be ahead of schedule, and getting everything planned out in advance just allows us to focus on other aspects that need attention. You end up only being able to handle what’s right in front of you, and become stretched too thin. Many times, due to the size of the company or financial reasons, these resources aren't available even if asked for, so it’s important to also know your needs. You may end up placing internal employees into positions that they aren’t qualified for, which will just end up hindering your eCommerce growth. These employees will get things done but aren’t exactly the best options for fostering a growth mindset within the company. Therein lies the potential issue with internal hires for eCommerce growth, making sure you have enough leeway to get the things done you need to, without holding yourself back.
Hire An Agency
Hiring an agency allows you to work with someone directly who can manage certain areas of your eCommerce growth, particularly marketing. Similar to what our company would do, we offer marketing consulting services, web development, advertising, social media, etc. You get access to all of those resources when you hire that type of agency or a partner like Porters. Some agencies have specific specialties, an advertising agency, for instance, might not have web development or other resources that you might need. You could end up looking around for multiple agencies to handle different aspects of your business. Also, these agencies typically won't have an eCommerce Manager, which is someone who would be able to update new products, keep things looking fresh, oversee what's happening, making sure that the website is at the top of their mind at all times. Typically, you would have an agency that builds your website and hands it off to you and trains you on how to operate it. Then they would require you to go back to them for updates. Or you might have an agency that is hands-on in advertising and digital marketing areas but doesn't get involved in the day-to-day with your company. This is where an agency typically isn't your best choice. Agencies tend to not have any real investment in your company, offering someone’s time to oversee the bigger picture within the work they’re doing. Usually, each person in an agency has a specific role so it’s difficult to find one agency that will be able to fit all your needs.
Hire A Consultant
Consultants will analyze your business, step in and help develop a plan for the growth of the company at a very early stage. A first step could even just be having a general conversation with an eCommerce consultant about where you are with your business and what possible next steps might look like. You could hire a company similar to ours that does much more than just consulting. We dive in and get involved in the execution of the strategy and the tasks that need to be done. This is often the best option for most companies that don't have the resources before making internal hires, because, in the end, you’ll end up spending more on that singular hire without resources, than a consultant that will strategize and manage your business with you, while providing all the resources we have to you. It also affords you the peace of mind that someone is in your corner and won’t just leave you hanging when things go sideways. Having someone who has worked on the brand side that understands the growing pains your company is dealing with or who works with the urgency needed to push out a last-minute deal or sale will ultimately help you continue moving forward and scaling your company. Whether it’s adding a single new hire or building out a whole team there's no way that one person can do this without some help and resources. Many of the marketers and eCommerce managers we know and work with will tell you the same thing when you work on the brand side, you will inevitably have to wear multiple hats and throw yourself into projects and develop skills by learning on the fly. That's why we tend to have a broad knowledge of eCommerce because we've likely been thrown into it. Whereas when you work with a traditional agency, they may have only worked on the agency side but have never been part of a small business, a growing business, or a growing brand.
Hiring an agency right away unless you have an agency background or in managing an agency, tends to be too high of a cost and not enough of a return for most smaller companies. Don’t think you can’t have success with an agency, though. Where we’ve seen success is when we can work with them for their specialty. Could be that you need advertising, and if we were managing an agency directly for their advertising specialties, you would see some good results. This also allows us to protect the brand from the maybe not-so-great advertisers who don’t have your best interest in mind. Speaking of best interest in mind, we find that having a hands-on owner or founder is a huge plus when it comes to strategizing a growth strategy. This doesn’t necessarily have to be an owner, this is one of the great reasons to internally hire. Especially that hire with a quality experience, adds so much more to the partnership.
These are just a few of the many options that you might be faced with as you begin to grow and scale, and in the end, it’s such a unique decision for each business that you should think about and know what you need and talk to someone before making the decision. But in a perfect world, the ideal situation would be to have a Director of Marketing that manages the eCommerce manager. In our opinion, oftentimes you can’t have one without the other. If you do, one is most likely acting as both roles which lead to some of the issues we spoke about earlier.
So really begin to think about where you are, how much money you have, and what you can realistically bring on. If you choose to bring on someone internally, just know that you're going to need some other resources for them to help them grow. Realistically, they're not going to be able to do it on their own. If you're going to move to an agency, it would be better to have an internal hire or someone managing that agency or make sure your interests are represented. If you're looking for an outside partner, look for a consultant that also has resources that are included in their service, a company that will partner with you to work alongside you as you grow. We hope this helps you begin to sort out a few of the options you have, and if you do have questions or would like to consult with us, please go to porters.io and reach out anytime.