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How to Effectively Manage Your Virtual Ecommerce Team

[By Xiaoyun TU, Global Head of Lead Generation at Brightpearl]

With more people than ever working from home, knowing how to manage your ecommerce team remotely has never been more important. Working from home is likely to continue long term, after all.

You might have an entirely remote team, or some people still working from the office. However your team is set up, you’ll need to address the unique challenges that come with virtual work and remote employees. 

There’s no right or wrong way to manage your virtual ecommerce team. There are a lot of moving parts in this area of business, for this reason, there are some tips that you might wish to follow. 

Why is Managing Your Remote Ecommerce Team Important?

One of the major drawbacks of remote work is that there are fewer opportunities to communicate with your team. It can also be difficult to train new team members in digital operations and technical skills. 

This can cause delays in project delivery and morale issues. Effective management can get around these issues.  

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You’ll also find that effective management can make remote working a real positive for your team. Some of the pros include:

- Better productivity

- Work/life balance

- Improved team morale 

This will ultimately make your team more cohesive and better at working together. 

How to Manage Your Remote Ecommerce Team

This advice will take you through some of the ways that you can manage your ecommerce team remotely. 

1. Set Early Expectations

One of the great things about remote working is that it enables flexibility for the whole team. But flexibility might mean different things to different people. And that’s great, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of working. 

For example, team member A might prefer to complete their work between 5am and 2pm. Whereas, team member B might prefer to work 4pm to midnight. These are examples of the varying productive periods between two individuals.

If that’s works for you, then great. If, however, you have a regular team meeting at 3pm that both A and B need to attend, make sure that they know that. Be clear on how much flexibility you’re willing to allow. 

You should also be clear on any flexibility that you might need as a team leader. Let your team know when they can expect you to be away from your phone and emails. 

Knowing when they can get hold of one another will help your team to adapt to one another’s schedules and improve team cohesion. 

2. Invest in Communication Infrastructure

Working remotely has the potential to disrupt communication. This is particularly true in something like an ecommerce team, which might have a lot of different positions within it. 

However, this doesn’t have to be a barrier to effective management. Remote team management technology is a lifesaver for businesses with remote ecommerce teams. If your systems allow for effective communication between team members, you’ll be on your way to success. 

On a basic level, be sure to check your emails regularly. Try to have a video or phone call or conference at least once a week, depending on your workload and current projects. Give everyone in your team a chance to speak and share issues relating to the work. Allow time to properly resolve any issues and address concerns.

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You should also make sure that different areas of your team have got the technology that they need. This should be readily accessible from their remote work space, and might include:

- Marketing - Can they easily communicate with external partners and advertisers?

- Customer representatives - Can they answer incoming calls or messages quickly?

- Operations - Can your developers access the software that they need for updates?

One of the things that you might want to consider if you’re thinking about a big overhaul is cloud ERP software or similar solutions. These tools allow teams to plan and manage their ecommerce activities via the cloud, which is often cheaper and more accessible to remote workers. 

3. Agree on a System

Similar to setting expectations on flexibility, but this point is more focused on working methods. 

For example, say part of your team in marketing is tracking numbers of sales across this quarter. Without face-to-face communication, it’s a good idea to have team members to agree on ways of keeping track of this data and sharing it with others. 

If they’re using a spreadsheet, are they using Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel? Are they using a compatible device? 

These are potential issues that may arise from a geographically diverse team with different working styles. 

Another way that you could avoid this issue is to ask yourself whether automated processes are an option. Automating simple processes—thereby making them uniform—can remove friction in the team. It can also free up attention for new projects. 

As a team leader, it’s a good idea to give relevant people input on these systems. However, someone should be visibly in control of the working plan for ecommerce. If this doesn’t happen, the work can feel disorganized and difficult to manage.

4. Trust Your Team

This is perhaps the most important point. 

Trusting your team to do their jobs effectively in a remote working environment is a sure-fire way of maintaining team morale. 

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In practice, this means that you should avoid micromanaging your team, especially if they’re experienced. Make sure that they know what they should be doing, but allow them to get on with their work. 

Some team leaders can feel like they don’t have enough control over their team and its work. This is down to going days at a time without visual contact with team members. Remember to communicate regularly and speak to your team if a problem arises. 

Adapting to remote working can be difficult, so be sure to allow time for adjustment. 

What Next?

It’s good to have a discussion with your team about how to work effectively from home

Discuss with your IT team about the software that you’ll need for effective remote ecommerce management. Does anything need replacing or updating?

With the right software and planning, a lot of ecommerce work can be done remotely with minimal disruption to business. 

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