E-commerce: How to Get Upper Management to Approve Additional Hires
Understaffing often is an issue for developing departments. Management would prefer that existing staffers handle emerging needs, leading to lost opportunities, due to a lack of available bodies. Nowhere has this been more prominent within the catalog business than on the Web. Brad Wolansky, director of e-commerce at outdoor gear catalog Orvis, explained in a session at the recent eTail conference in Philadelphia how he convinced management to bolster Web staff, leading to increased sales on Orvis’ Web site. Following is his step-by-step strategy.
1. Identify an issue and a possible solution. “Eighty percent of companies use just 20 percent of their data,” Wolansky said. With the rise of comprehensive Web analytics packages, catalogers collect more information about what happens on their Web sites, but they don’t have the resources to act on the data. In fact, merchandising decisions at Orvis often were made on a monthly basis, meaning that any changes made to the site were often based on month-old data or results across the previous 30 days. In spring 2005, Wolansky realized he could keep up with the the data on a daily basis and increase sales if he had an additional Web analyst/merchant and a separate Web-dedicated art director.
2. Create a statement that lays out the goal. For Orvis, this meant crafting what Wolansky called an “I Firmly Believe” statement, or IFB. In this case, his IFB was that a dedicated Web merchant and art director could improve sales per visit (SPV) by making daily merchandising decisions and changes based on current Web analytics. Once he had his IFB, Wolansky presented it to the stakeholders at Orvis and got permission for a test.
3. Prove the IFB with a test. Wolansky stressed that any viable test should be temporary and have the ability to be halted if it goes bad. So, he received permission to have a senior marketing staffer transfer his duties to the project full time, as the Web merchant, for a period of six weeks. To ensure that the merchant’s changes were made in a timely fashion, a freelance art director was contracted for the same length of time.