Electronic commerce is growing at a staggering pace as shopping goes digital. In 2021, the global retail e-commerce sales worldwide almost reached $5 bln. Over the next four years, it is expected to grow by 50%.
A quality website or app is the key element for an e-commerce business to hit the market successfully. To build one, you’d need an effective development team. Which specialists should you include? What is the best e-commerce team structure? How should such a team operate? Read this article to find the answers.
Benefits of outsourcing e-commerce software development
To begin with, let's make the focus of our article clear. The marketing team is of prime importance for the success of an online store. That’s why the search for an ideal e-commerce marketing team structure has become a popular topic.
However, in this article, we focus on the e-commerce software development team responsible for actually building an online store. Thus, when we mention an ‘e-commerce department structure,’ we mean the structure of a tech team.
While the marketing team usually operates in-house, outsourcing software development is a good idea. Here are the key benefits of such an approach.
If you don’t have an in-house development team with the required expertise, you’ll have to build it from scratch. Hiring, onboarding, and training new employees is a costly affair. You’ll also have to provide them with the necessary infrastructure. The outsourcing companies can do it much more efficiently due to the economy of scale and vast experience.
Moreover, the cost of software development services varies for different regions. In North America, the average software developers’ hourly rates vary from $49 to $210 depending on the experience, skill level, the technology stack, and the required commitment duration. In Central and Eastern Europe, for instance, the rates are much lower — $21 to $118.
Remote cooperation with top-level experts from all over the world allows outsourcing companies to offer quality solutions for a reasonable price. Such companies can efficiently work in distributed teams, coping with differences in time zones and cultures.
Specialized software development companies accumulate vast experience in using niche technologies and working in specific domains. An outsourcing partner with unique and proven expertise can be of great help to you.
DigitalSuits has completed multiple e-commerce projects of varying scale and complexity. Shopify and BigCommerce development is our core domain, and we know all the ins and outs of these platforms. Also, we are familiar with the e-commerce business structure and processes. As a result, our projects have tighter timeframes and smaller budgets.
Dozens of satisfied clients and an extensive portfolio are solid evidence to support those claims. On top of it, our company is an official partner of Shopify, Recharge, and Klaviyo. Clutch recognized us as Top E-commerce Developers in 2020, which is another testimony to our expertise.
Access to a large talent pool
Finding a specialist with specific expertise and skills demands time and effort. Both depend on your requirements and on the size of the talent pool you have access to. If your project has tight deadlines, you don’t have much time to search high and low for extra human resources. In such a case, getting the right professional really quickly may be crucial.
Established outsourcing software development companies, such as DigitalSuits, tend to be strongly integrated into the IT communities. We partner with multiple recruitment agencies and other software development companies. Therefore, we have huge talent pools. As a result, we can augment their teams quickly and easily if required.
Outsourcing allows you to augment your team at any time. Hiring and accommodating a new in-house specialist can be a complex and time-consuming process. Getting in touch with the professionals from an outsourcing company is much easier. On top of it, there is no need to micromanage the work of a reliable software development company. For instance, our e-commerce team is self-sufficient and maintains the highest standards, doing its best to meet the deadlines.
Dealing swiftly and efficiently with the small projects
It isn’t feasible to hire new team members for niche, short-term projects. That is especially true if the job has to be done quickly. Outsourcing is a great way to solve the problem. Finding an appropriate partner to outsource such a project will take less time and effort than the recruitment process. A reliable software development company understands the importance of speed. We at DigitalSuits will get your project rolling in no time. Our experienced team sets goals and defines schedules really fast. All specialists work as one to ensure that the project kicks off as soon as possible.
How to choose a credible software development outsourcing company
As we’ve pointed out, outsourcing your online store development is a sensible strategy. Nonetheless, choosing among a myriad of companies that offer such services can be a challenge. Here are some basic steps to get you moving:
- Check reviews and rates. The starting point of your search should be to analyze the experience of others. Companies often publish some reviews on their websites, but those selections can hardly be considered unbiased. Also, be careful while browsing review platforms. Use reliable websites, providing verified rates and reviews for multiple clients. DigitalSuits has 4.9 stars on Clutch and 5.0 stars on GoodFirms.
- Look for companies with profound domain expertise. Those specializing in e-commerce software development should be at the top of your list. They have experience in coping with typical challenges and peculiarities of e-commerce solutions. As we’ve already mentioned, DigitalSuits focuses on Shopify and BigCommerce development. Therefore, we have a large experience in dealing with those platforms and know all their nuances.
- Review portfolios. Each company tries to prove it is your best choice. However, not all have extensive portfolios to showcase their experience and expertise. While reviewing the candidates, check out the projects they have worked on. Ideally, you will find the description project similar to yours. If not, you may ask about it directly. We at DigitalSuits love to share the Success Stories of our clients.
Now let’s proceed to the question of an ideal e-commerce team structure.
Which specialists do you need for an e-commerce project?
Building an online store from scratch requires a full-stack development team. Its size and composition may vary depending on the type of the project, its budget, and other factors. However, in any case, the project’s success demands the right specialists with the right expertise.
We at DigitalSuits have an independent e-commerce department focused on Shopify and BigCommerce development. It is a fully-fledged team covering all stages of the project, from gathering requirements to release. Here is the best e-commerce team structure diagram, based on our experience.
A project manager coordinates the development process, keeping it on the right track. An e-commerce project manager is well aware of the best practices in e-commerce software development. Such specialists deal with the process of project estimation, planning, and execution. Their focus is on meeting the requirements, fitting the scope and budget as well as keeping up with the schedule. Project managers also communicate a project’s progress to stakeholders.
A tech lead is an experienced software engineer with profound expertise in domain-specific technologies. For instance, our tech leads are experts in Shopify or BigCommerce platforms. The role of such a team member is to find the best ways to leverage core technologies in a particular project. Tech leads are rather mentors than managers. A tech lead is interested in the success of a team as a whole. Such specialists code themselves, but it isn’t their primary responsibility. They perform code reviews as well as prioritize and delegate tasks. Tech leads share their expertise with other team members through interesting articles and even pair programming. Thus, they drive the technical expertise of the team up.
A business analyst has an especially important role in the initial stages of the project. Usually, it is a specialist with a profound background in the e-commerce domain who shapes the project’s vision. The role of this team member is to ensure that a final software product will have the expected business value. Business analysts serve as a bridge between stakeholders and the development team. To begin with, they help the clients to specify project requirements. Such specialists set up the primary product benchmarks and help to decide on basic KPIs. Then they ‘translate’ the requirements into tasks for developers. During the development process, BA keeps in touch with stakeholders and ensures that their feedback is taken into account.
This person ensures reliable communication between the client and the outsourced e-commerce software development team. An account manager is the lead point of contact, instrumental in building and maintaining strong relationships between both parties. Such a specialist regularly communicates the progress of the project to external and internal stakeholders. Also, the account manager assists in dealing with challenging client requests or issues. We at DigitalSuits believe that such a specialist is the key to transparent and efficient cooperation. Therefore, each of our clients has a dedicated account manager.
E-commerce developers will transform your ideas and specifications into a real online store. They should have intricate knowledge of e-commerce platforms to swiftly create a high-quality product. Experienced developers know the best ways to design all essential parts of an e-store, such as various product pages, personal accounts, shopping cart systems, and more.
In our projects, we employ developers who specialize in Shopify or BigCommerce. Those two are among the most popular e-commerce development platforms. Both platforms offer multiple built-in options and provide ample room for customization.
In e-commerce, the website or mobile app is your storefront. Therefore, your site should be easy to use and look enticing to the customers. The core value should be vividly presented via design using language and symbols which appeal to the target audience.
The best e-commerce UI/UX designers are not only familiar with the e-commerce development platforms but know the ins and outs of the online store design in general. For instance, they will take into account the type of business relations between the buyer and seller (B2B, B2C) and the typical environment in which the products or services are used. These factors influence the choice of layout, color scheme, transitions, and typography. Our designers can build a UI, which is simple to operate, contains strong branding, and supports the offer rather than makes it obscure. They will ensure that the navigation is intuitive and the products are presented effectively.
These specialists ensure your online store operates smoothly and complies with the specifications. Though modern e-commerce frameworks offer automatic tests of some basic functionalities, they don’t cover all the nuances. Some custom functionalities and changes have to be tested thoroughly.
You may require both manual and automated QA testing. Manual tests don’t require knowledge of programming languages. However, testers with experience in e-commerce projects have the advantage as they know more domain-specific nuances. Automatic QA engineers speed up the quality assurance process by creating scripts to test software.
Engagement models for e-commerce projects
If you decide to find a tech partner for your e-commerce project, you should choose the appropriate model of cooperation. The model depends on the core needs of a client and determines the e-commerce team structure which will be the most effective for clients’ projects.
Here are the most common engagement models for online store development. Note that you can work with DigitalSuits, using any of them.
Even if you have a great in-house software development team, some projects might need specialists with specific experience and skills. For instance, those may be Shopify or BigCommerce developers. If increasing your team isn’t feasible and the scope of work isn’t clearly defined, outstaffing is a great choice. Your technology partner will make your needs clear and provide you with the required professionals. You prepare the assignments and tasks for an outstaffed employee. Don’t worry about equipment, technical support, or paperwork. Just focus on using your augmented team to achieve your objectives.
As the name suggests, this model is focused on a particular project. A project-based model is most suitable for small or medium-sized projects with concise specifications. Also, the needs behind those projects should not reoccur too often — or you may consider some more cost-effective options.
Most e-commerce projects have clear timelines. Nonetheless, there are some which constantly grow and evolve. If this is your case, choose the retainer model. You will pay a fixed rate every month for a specified amount of work until the end of the predetermined period. In the long run, the retainer model is a cost-effective solution. You don’t need to negotiate the work to be done each month. Just reach out to your partner and get the job done. Another advantage is having a dedicated provider that is closely familiar with your company. We at DigitalSuits do our best to get a deep understanding of your business processes and goals. A prolonged partnership provides a great opportunity to get to know each other better. As a result, the cooperation becomes smoother, and we can swiftly deliver the services you need.
Support and maintenance
You may have the e-commerce solution ready but need experts to keep it up and running. In this case, your partner can provide specialists with particular skills as the need arises. It is the most flexible cooperation model of all. You pay for the time the partner spends fixing the problem or designing upgrades. Thus, you clearly understand what you are spending your budget on. We in DigitalSuits usually use hourly rates.
Transparency in communication
Aside from using the best e-commerce team structure, effective cooperation requires transparent communication and management of the project. We at DigitalSuits consider it one of our key priorities. This is what helps us to achieve it:
- Weekly progress reports with the lists of accomplished and remaining tasks. Aside from the progress of the project, such reports vividly illustrate the team's performance.
- A project manager on the team. This dedicated specialist coordinates the planning and execution of the project. This person can tell precisely where the project is going.
- An account manager. The client has a clearly specified contact point. Therefore, all issues are discussed and solved in no time.
- Demos. We provide our clients with proof of the product’s functionality even before it is fully ready. Demos are prepared for some important milestones in the project plan. Also, testing them can provide some ideas for improvement.
- Task management systems. Such tools like Jira and Confluence allow us to list all the tasks in one place, which is available both to the team and to the client. Thus, their prioritization becomes easier and more transparent.
- Regular communication with the client. We use Slack, Skype, and similar tools for chatting as well as weekly and daily calls.
- Agile approach. Our team monitors its performance, looks for possible pitfalls, and designs countermeasures.
- Legitimate contracts. We always take the local laws into account while preparing the contracts for clients from different countries.
Fulfill your most daring e-commerce projects with DigitalSuits
An ideal e-commerce team structure may vary depending on the project. However, most probably, you will need not only experienced developers and UI/UX designers but also a product manager, a business analyst, a tech lead, and QA specialists. Such composition ensures a transparent and efficient development process as well as high quality of the resulting product.
Building a dedicated in-house team may not be feasible for a number of reasons. If that is the case, you may outsource your e-commerce software development. DigitalSuits would be glad to help you with Shopify and BigCommerce development.
Our dedicated e-commerce team has completed a number of projects of various scopes and complexity. We can build an online store tailored precisely to your requirements. We value transparent and reliable communication and offer flexible terms of cooperation.
Contact us! Let’s discuss your future e-commerce solution in more detail.