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Build an Ecommerce Team Structure: Key roles You Need to Fill

For ecommerce success, brands need a skilled team with industry experience, strategic foresight, and cross-functional capabilities. If you’re just starting to form your ecommerce team, it can be challenging to know where to begin. While it may seem straightforward, business leaders need to do more than simply find the best developers or designers. Establishing the optimal ecommerce team structure involves ensuring that the team’s work aligns with business goals and that they’re prepared for the challenges that accompany growth.

How do you ensure the team’s success and demonstrate that you’ve done everything right when setting up a team structure for an ecommerce business? In this article, we’ll provide insights and strategies to use when creating a company structure.

Exploring Organizational Structures for Ecommerce Businesses

When establishing an ecommerce team, the structure you choose is a pivotal factor influencing the company’s dynamics and culture. Below are various types of structures commonly employed in the ecommerce realm.

Functional Structure

  • Overview – Organized hierarchically by departments (e.g., marketing, finance).
  • Pros – Clearly defined reporting lines, efficient decision-making within each department.
  • Cons – Communication challenges between departments, potential for isolated information.

Flat Structure

  • Overview – Emphasizes shared decision-making, reducing layers of hierarchy.
  • Pros – Promotes agility, fosters innovation, facilitates quick decision-making.
  • Cons – Requires a culture of trust and open communication among team members.

Geographic Structure

  • Overview – Teams organized by geographic regions for localized management.
  • Pros – Effective for global businesses, allows tailoring strategies to local markets.
  • Cons – Necessitates hiring local talent, potential coordination challenges.

Product-focused Structure

  • Overview – Teams dedicated to specific products, fostering in-depth expertise.
  • Pros – Deep understanding of products, prioritizes innovation in product development.
  • Cons – Best suited for larger ecommerce brands with complex and diverse product lines.

Brand-focused Structure

  • Overview – Employees assigned to specific brand teams functioning as independent business units.
  • Pros – Cultivates ownership and accountability within brand teams.
  • Cons – Particularly applicable to companies managing multiple successful brands.

Market-based Structure

  • Overview – Teams grouped by customer segments (e.g., adults, teens).
  • Pros – Deep understanding of customer base, facilitates personalized marketing.
  • Cons – Ideal for businesses with highly specialized products requiring tailored approaches.

Process-focused Structure

  • Overview – Employees organized by functions such as sales and supply chain management.
  • Pros – Enables the hiring of experts in specific functions, specialized expertise.
  • Cons – Potential for siloed expertise, focusing on specific functions rather than holistic perspectives.

Essential Team Roles to Hire for Your Online Store

Running an online store is a bit like juggling many tasks at once. It involves various skills, from handling inventory to providing excellent customer service and making smart marketing decisions.

When putting together your online store team, each member should help tackle the challenges you’re likely to encounter. Although every company is unique, there are some crucial roles that every online store needs for a strong foundation.

Marketing Manager/ Copywriter

This person leads the charge in promoting your brand through ads, email campaigns, engaging content, affiliate programs, and social media.

Product Manager

Whether you create your products or use a drop-shipping approach, you need someone to curate and optimize your product lineup, manage suppliers, pricing, and stay aligned with customer demand and market trends.

Customer Service

The face of your business, your customer support team bridges the gap between your brand and customers, turning a one-time visitor into a lifelong fan.

IT Specialists

Essential for building and maintaining your website, managing integrations, and optimizing page performance.

Inventory Manager

Keeps track of stock levels, handles order fulfillment, and manages returns and replacements efficiently.

Logistics Manager

Works with carriers and shipping authorities to ensure orders reach customers on time and in perfect condition.

These roles are just the start. Growing ecommerce companies also need accountants, HR managers, legal experts, office managers, and more.

Consider whether to hire internally or outsource responsibilities for each role, weighing the pros and cons. For instance, outsourcing customer service can enable faster scaling, but poor outsourcing may reduce the quality of your customer experience. Choose the approach that aligns with your strengths and budget.

Building an Efficient Ecommerce Team Structure

When setting up an ecommerce team, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. For a small team, roles might be flexible and loosely defined to allow for agility. However, as your business grows, you might find the need for a more organized structure.

Let’s be clear: organizational charts aren’t a bad thing. They bring clarity, helping everyone understand who does what and how teams interact in your ecommerce organization.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or revamping your existing team, consider your company’s lifecycle, strategy, and competitive environment.

Company Size and Budget

Your team’s size and structure depend on your budget. A smaller budget might favor a streamlined, flat structure for quick decision-making. On the other hand, larger organizations might need multi-level hierarchies, especially when launching new products or entering new markets.

Business Goals

Align your team structure with your goals. If rapid scaling is the aim, reduce bottlenecks and empower decision-making. If superior customer service sets you apart, invest in a strong support team. Consider having support leaders report directly to key executives to prioritize customer experience.

Customer Preferences

Understand your customers. Tailor your team structure to meet their needs. For instance, a mature audience might value phone support, while younger customers may prefer social media or live chat.

Choosing Between In-House Staff and Freelancers

Deciding between hiring in-house staff and freelancers depends on several factors such as the nature of the work, budget considerations, and talent availability. Seasonal or project-based jobs are often outsourced, while essential business functions like customer service and operations may necessitate an in-house team. Extraneous tasks such as content creation and social media management are typically suitable for outsourcing.  

When evaluating the decision, factors like continuity become crucial. Roles serving an ongoing, critical business need, such as a business intelligence analyst requiring continuous attention, may not align well with freelancers who might face availability constraints. Control is another aspect to consider, with roles like project management benefiting from in-house staff who can deeply collaborate and are more invested in the business.  

Additionally, the specific skill set required for the role plays a vital role; freelancers, known for their niche expertise, are ideal for specialized tasks like PPC or email marketing, where on-the-job training is not necessary. Ultimately, aligning the hiring choice with the unique demands of the work ensures a tailored approach that meets the business’s specific needs.

How to Retain Specialists in Your Online Business

Ensuring your team sticks around is vital. When setting up an effective team structure, make the workspace comfortable and motivating. While your eCommerce team works on reaching goals with their skills, you’re responsible for creating an environment that keeps them committed for the long haul. Many eCommerce projects need specialized roles, like Magento developers or experienced tech leads. However, it’s crucial for companies to do more to retain and reward their top talent.

Efficient Onboarding Process

  • Start Strong – The onboarding process kicks in when a new hire accepts the job offer. It’s not just about paperwork; it’s about making them feel valued from the start.
  • Clear Expectations – Clearly define their role and where they fit into the organizational hierarchy. This sets the foundation for a productive journey.
  • Ongoing Support – Regular one-on-one meetings, periodic check-ins, and informal discussions with both team members and specialists create a supportive environment.
  • Peer Mentorship – Assigning a peer mentor helps newcomers navigate the intricacies of the company culture and their specific role.
  • Customization – Tailor the onboarding process to the nuances of each role, recognizing the unique requirements of different positions.

Career Advancement Opportunities

  • Motivation through Growth – Career development is a powerful motivator. Showcasing clear paths for advancement communicates value and recognition.
  • Increased Responsibilities – Correlate career growth with added responsibilities, giving specialists a sense of progress and achievement.
  • Incentives for Well-being – Consider incentives that contribute to well-being, such as additional days off or flexible work hours.

Healthy Work Environment

  • Recognition and Transparency – Regularly recognizing individual success stories and maintaining transparent communication foster a positive work environment.
  • Promote Collaboration – Encourage a collaborative atmosphere, emphasizing teamwork over competition within the team.
  • Trust and Autonomy – Avoid micromanagement, placing trust in your team members. Provide them with the freedom and flexibility to pursue their goals.
  • Team-building and Feedback – Invest in regular team-building activities and establish a strong culture of feedback to enhance camaraderie and mutual understanding.

Prioritize Flexibility

  • Personalized Management – Acknowledge individual personalities and tailor the management process to meet the specific needs of each team member.
  • Remote Work Opportunities – Offer flexibility, including remote work opportunities and flexible hours, catering to the preferences and work styles of different individuals.
  • Hybrid Work Format – Embrace a hybrid work format to accommodate both in-office and remote work preferences. Leverage automated reporting and management tools for seamless collaboration.

Challenges in Creating an Ecommerce Team

Building an ecommerce team involves assembling individuals with diverse skills covering areas like website design, marketing, and logistics. In the competitive ecommerce industry, company leaders face several challenges in kick starting their projects. Below are key considerations when putting together an ecommerce team.

Lack of Agility

  • Issue – Ecommerce businesses must adapt to seasonal changes, evolving customer expectations, and market-driven shifts quickly.
  • Consequence – Failing to provide an excellent shopping experience can lead to lost sales and hinder business growth.
  • Solution – Create an agile team structure capable of making swift changes in design, content, loyalty programs, and user experience. Hire individuals adaptable to change and customer-focused.

Skills Shortage and Talent Loss

  • Issue – 55% of decision-makers struggle to hire specialists at the right price.
  • Consequence – Talent shortages hinder productivity, and a negative work environment may lead to turnover.
  • Solution – Prioritize a positive work culture to attract and retain skilled professionals. Create an environment that values a pleasant work experience.

Compliance Issues

  • Issue – Handling sensitive customer data requires adherence to privacy laws and regulations.
  • Consequence – Violating privacy rights can damage the company’s reputation and result in legal consequences.
  • Solution – Implement strong data security measures and comply with local laws and regulations to prevent legal issues and protect customer data.

Changing Customer Expectations

  • Issue – Staying updated on industry trends and quickly responding to evolving customer expectations is challenging.
  • Consequence – Failure to adapt can lead to a poor customer experience and losing ground to competitors.
  • Solution – Assemble a team capable of scaling efforts to meet customer expectations. Emphasize proactive individuals who deliver personalized service and create a flexible team structure based on customer feedback.

Technology Challenges

  • Issue – Wrong technology choices can impede development and jeopardize software delivery.
  • Consequence – Performance issues, lack of differentiation, and failure to meet business goals are risks.
  • Solution – Conduct thorough research to select fitting technologies, considering current goals and future growth plans.


Creating a thriving ecommerce team involves having the right people to handle various business functions and selecting an effective organizational structure. Crafting precise job descriptions and screening for relevant skills are crucial steps. Even if a hiring manager isn’t familiar with every role, understanding the key skills to prioritize during screening, interviewing, and candidate selection is essential. As the business expands, its hiring needs will too.