E-commerce & Internet Retail

How to Scale Your E-commerce Merchandising Team Without Hiring a Single Employee

  • September 15, 2017
  • Daisy McCarty
  • 4 minutes

One of the most frustrating things about managing an e-commerce merchandising program is lack of personnel. You have plenty of good ideas, and you know what needs to be done to implement them. But there just aren’t enough hours in the day (or enough hands on deck) to make it happen.

Your existing team is often busy managing day-to-day tasks to keep up with the influx of new inventory. They don’t have time to take on fresh initiatives. And you can’t justify hiring new employees for a large-scale project – no matter how big an impact it could have on the company’s bottom line.

First, you probably can’t get the budget approval for a meaningful increase in your headcount. Just look at this article from the Manager’s Resource Handbook about what it takes to get approval for adding even one employee to a department’s quota.

Second, when the project is over, what then? Is there enough work to keep everyone employed full time? If not, do you lay everyone off after the project is complete? If you did, would they be willing to come back on board the next time you need them? Not likely.

What Can You Do to Increase Your Labor Resources Without Hiring?

This is not an uncommon problem in the online retail world, and there is a simple solution: scale your workforce with freelance talent. This approach has several benefits:

  • You can immediately act on new business opportunities and stay abreast of best practices.
  • It’s easier to make a business case for a project budget than for a headcount increase.
  • The cost per person for onboarding freelancers is very low compared to traditional employees.
  • Freelancers have no expectation of a long-term engagement but can be brought back for future assignments if desired.
  • Existing employees are not disrupted or displaced.
  • The ROI is very quick since all work efforts are highly targeted.
  • There are no ongoing costs for maintaining the on-demand workforce at the end of the project.

What Projects Are Suitable for Freelance Teams?

Hiring freelancers at scale is not realistic if you must train each one individually on how to accomplish complex tasks. You will see the most benefit from hiring an on-demand workforce to handle tasks that:

  • Have characteristics and parameters that are easy to define
  • Require some experience but not a high level of skill
  • Are repeatable, with the same basic instructions for all similar assignments
  • Will be simple to track in terms of quality and completeness

In the merchandising world, these tasks tend to fall into one of several categories:

Simply put, your scalable independent workforce should enhance your team’s efforts by shouldering a sizable portion of the workload. As a result, your core team can leverage their more specialized skills to focus on high-value initiatives that require a deep knowledge of your organization’s brand.

Scaling Makes Your E-Commerce Merchandising Team Bigger and Faster

Once you’ve defined the objectives of your project, hiring and onboarding freelancers takes days – not weeks or months. And a project can be condensed into an incredibly short time frame.

Take online resale and consignment shop thredUP, for example. Using a team of 35,000 OneSpace freelancers to tag products, they were able to clear their existing inventory backlog within 30 days and start onboarding new products the same day they arrived at the warehouse – all without hiring additional employees. You can read the full case study to learn more. When time is of the essence, there’s no limit to how many independent contractors you can bring on board simultaneously to accomplish your objectives.

Do you have a high-ROI project that you’d like to complete but lack the manpower to do so? OneSpace is here to help. Our prequalified network of over 100,000 independent professionals is available on demand 24/7, letting your team focus on the initiatives that matter most. Sign up for a free consultation to see how your merchandising team can become more efficient.

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