Digital staff drive
The growing e-commerce ecosystem is spawning a new breed of specialists. People with knowledge of search-engine marketing or search-engine optimisation, statisticians with skills in analytics and data crunching, and savvy e-commerce professionals have become highly sought-after talents.
"The e-commerce-savvy person must be open-minded and technology-driven," says Alan Lim, CEO of E-Services Group. "They should understand that the rules aren't fixed, but changing all the time."
E-Services Group relies on standard key performance indicators (KPI) to gauge employee performance. "E-commerce companies like us are numbers-driven, and these are easy to measure. We have over 100 people in Hong Kong and everyone has quarterly and annual KPI. The numbers pick the employee of the month," Lim says.
At Groupon HK, sales staff understand how powerful the online sector can be. "Our salespeople understand that everything is moving to a digital platform. They're able to let more traditional businesses realise that we're moving into the new internet age," says Danny Yeung, CEO of Groupon HK.
Yeung is on the lookout for highly motivated individuals who know not just about the daily-deals industry, but also what's happening around the internet.
"They should know what's happening in companies that are making a big name for themselves, such as Fav.com and Nasty Gal, which are growing like crazy. There are a lot of new and interesting models out there," he says.
Groupon HK is constantly hatching new and creative ways of engaging its employees. A few weeks ago, they did the "Harlem Shake", a short comedy sketch based on a viral internet video. A more recent initiative will see every new employee that joins the company asked to sing in front of the entire staff.
"I believe that great culture equals great numbers. To have great numbers, we have to get great people. They have to enjoy what they're doing and doing what they love to do," Yeung says.
Lim offers practical advice to businesses that want to jump into e-commerce. "Rethink your business from scratch. Start by hiring an experienced e-commerce manager from outside the company, and not promoting or assigning an internal staff member to explore this opportunity. The know-how and mindset needed are completely different," he says.