Structuring Your eCommerce Team to Handle Scalability On & Off Amazon

May 12, 2021 1:00 PM2:00 PM EST

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Key Discussion Takeaways

Many companies feel underprepared when planning to scale and grow. However, this doesn’t always have to be the case. With help from Michael Southworth and Eric Morgan, you’ll feel ready to take your business to the next level. All it takes is a little bit of elbow grease and lots of structure.

Michael Southworth and Eric Morgan are the Co-founders of Elemerce, a full-service e-commerce marketing agency focused on increasing revenue and growing businesses. When they noticed companies sinking instead of swimming in the e-commerce space, they jumped in headfirst and dedicated themselves to providing whatever services are needed to lift them up again. They’re here to share their decades of experience with you — and teach you everything you need to know about structuring your company.

Aaron Conant hosts Co-founder and CEO of Elemerce, Michael Southworth, and Co-founder and President of Elemerce, Eric Morgan, in a conversation about structuring your business to thrive in the e-commerce space. Michael and Eric share why it’s better to hire talent by personality rather than resume, how to structure your business for efficiency and productivity, strategies to ensure your team has balance in their workday, and much more.

Here's a glimpse of what you'll learn:


  • Michael Southworth and Eric Morgan discuss some challenges companies face while scaling
  • What’s most important when hiring people: their resumes or their personalities?
  • Michael explains why it’s difficult to hire top-level talent and the high demand in the e-commerce industry
  • Michael shares some tips on assessing your company based on structure and ability to scale
  • Tools for staying up-to-date on trends in the e-commerce world, like LinkedIn
  • What role do systems and processes play in avoiding stagnation and falling behind?
  • How to maximize your company’s performance in both scaling and retracting mode
  • Michael and Eric talk about how they maintained cohesion within their team during COVID, and tips for remote teams
  • The benefits of having a clear structure and maintaining balance for your employees
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Event Partners


Elemerce is a full service eCommerce marketing agency that has successfully launched and developed several multimillion dollar eCommerce brands.

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Guest Speakers

Eric Morgan

President at Elemerce

Eric is CMO and Co-founder of Elemerce and has been a pioneer in digital marketing over the past 17 years. Eric has a natural ability to sort through the noise, identify what works and what doesn't work, and create systems to maximize performance in everything from campaigns to teams.

Michael Southworth

Michael Southworth

Co-founder & CEO at Elemerce

Michael is CEO and Co-founder of Elemerce, has been involved in product marketing for 15 years and eCommerce for the last 10. Michael is a visionary leader and a people person above all. Building strong relationships with partners and delivering value is what drives him daily.

Aaron Conant LinkedIn

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Event Moderator

Eric Morgan

President at Elemerce

Eric is CMO and Co-founder of Elemerce and has been a pioneer in digital marketing over the past 17 years. Eric has a natural ability to sort through the noise, identify what works and what doesn't work, and create systems to maximize performance in everything from campaigns to teams.

Michael Southworth

Michael Southworth

Co-founder & CEO at Elemerce

Michael is CEO and Co-founder of Elemerce, has been involved in product marketing for 15 years and eCommerce for the last 10. Michael is a visionary leader and a people person above all. Building strong relationships with partners and delivering value is what drives him daily.

Aaron Conant LinkedIn

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

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Aaron Conant

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution.

Co-Founder & Managing Director Aaron Conant runs the group & connects with dozens of brand executives every week, always for free.

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Discussion Transcription

Aaron Conant  0:18  

My name is Aaron Conant, I'm Co-founder and Managing Director of BWG Connect. We're a networking and knowledge sharing group with 1000s of brands who do exactly that we network analysis here together to stay on top of the newest trends, strategies, pain points, whatever it is that shaping digital as a whole, you know, tons of stuff going on right now across the digital landscape, nobody's surprised, and just completely ramped up, we'll do close to 300 virtual events this year. And we're going to look to get back to in person events towards the end of this year. So, you know, last year we were , we're supposed to do close to 100. But, you know, COVID had different plans. But if you'd like to be, you know, a part of that invite list as a whole, don't forget to ping us afterwards. I talk with 30 or 40 brands a week to stay on top of those digital trends. If anybody like to have a conversation on what's going on just one on one, never hesitate to reach out, always happy to jump up the phone, a strategic conversation. And also, if you're ever looking for any service providers, I've got a shortlist that the network regularly updates that we can send over. And that's everything from Amazon performance marketing, to fulfillment, international expansion, whatever it might be, don't hesitate to reach out, always let them the conversation. And I'll probably just pick your brain to is what are the upcoming topics that we should have for calls. A couple of housekeeping items as we kick it off here. At any point in time, if you have a question, don't hesitate to drop into the question section there of the GoToWebinar panel, or email it to me directly Aaron We'll field those, those questions multiple ways just throughout the conversation as a whole, you don't have to hold it to the end. The last thing is we're starting three to four minutes after the hour. And just a quick heads up that we're going to wrap up with three to four minutes to go and in the hour as well. So you have plenty of time to get on to your next meeting without being late. And that being said, let's go ahead and kick it off. As I noted, you know, talking to 30 plus brands a week. You know, we've had a lot of conversations around Amazon around, you know, Walmart around direct-to-consumer around, you know, find the right 3PL or payments or whatever it might be. And then you know, a lot of people asking questions or team building as a whole part of that is build versus buy. I just did a LinkedIn post on it. But at some point in time, we all have to build something internally. And what does that look like? And how do you scale the team for growth as a whole. So we've got great friends. They're great partners, supporters of the network over at Elemerce. So Michael and Eric are on the line today. And they've been, as you know, digital consultants. They're an Amazon agency that DTC side as well. But just thought leaders and helping brands to work with as a whole build and scale teams internally. And so ask if they jump on the line today kind of share what they're seeing across the board, because they have this broad perspective. And then, you know, answer any questions that we throw at them along the way. So, you know, Michael, off, you get over to you first, if you want to do a brief intro on yourself and Elemerce and then we can kick it over to Eric, and let's kick it off.


Michael Southworth  3:20  

Yeah, awesome. Thanks, Aaron. Good morning. Good afternoon, everybody. That's here. It's, it's always fun to be a part of this and love having these conversations. You know, Aaron, you said, well, we're, we're an agency marketing agency, we, you know, do of course, Amazon, other marketplaces as well as DTC. And really our expertise, I think one of our strongest kind of assets is really ability to build structure, processes and systems. And that's thanks to my partner over here to my right, Eric. But, but that's where we like to think are, were a little bit unique, in that, we try to partner with companies to to start where they are big kind of grow and build their internal teams and capabilities along with, you know, where we fill in the gaps, and then just let help that kind of evolve over time to meet those objectives. So let Aaron or Eric, we merged our companies about three years ago. So I started in the Amazon Marketplace space. And Eric is longtime digital guy.


Eric Morgan  4:29  

Yeah, it's great to be here. And really exciting topic. We've just seen a lot from people we work with just last happen, especially this last year with COVID. And I think some of the things we're going to be talking about are more important than ever. Really excited to be here.


Aaron Conant  4:44  

Yeah, awesome. And just a quick, I would base that I think Mike was saying, you know, if I just add a little bit really unique is it's not just an Amazon agency as a whole. It also has direct to consumer side of it as well. And so they have kind of this whole holistic view rather than just building out a single silo. What does it look like? You know, top the bottom? For those best in class companies that they see winning? What does that structure look like? And what are they thinking about? And then what are the questions they're asking of themselves? So, Michael, do you want to kick off? I mean, I know we have just a few slides here. If you want to kick it off, yeah.


Michael Southworth  5:22  

Yeah, for sure. This is this is pulled up, right, so everybody can, can see right now. So essentially, one of the challenges that we've run into, you know, repeatedly not only in our business, as we, you know, grow and scale and look to, you know, service brands, better and better. But with the brands that we work with, you know, either jumping into marketplaces or, you know, transferring from, you know, adding on DTC, in addition to say, Amazon or vice versa, there's, that we run into these kind of challenges repeatedly, over and over again, in terms of kind of lack of setup, lack of structure, to the business, lack of planning. And so, you know, Eric, kind of put together this, this visual to help understand how that, how we think about structure. And so that, you know, the foundation, of course, we view that as our team, the people are only as strong as kind of the people that are, that are managing the day to day of the business and executing on the on the objectives, or the or the tactics in order to kind of drive those objectives. And what we've seen a lot of companies do, in a lot of even agencies, you know, done to start, like, hey, let's, let's jump into this, I have to say, actually, this is how we started, let's get an expert, you know, we were going to, we're going to help companies on Amazon, we want to launch on Amazon, let's go find somebody who knows Amazon, there's an expert, she's kind of start with that expert, and then, and then let's go, and so jump right into it. And so that, you know, if you, if you look at this visual, you've just got that, that middle pillar. And so leave yourself, certainly subject to a lot of a lot of things going sideways or going wrong, and you know, being out of balance, and so then you then you realize, Oh, you know, what we, we need to kind of backup, backup in in, create some plans, create some actual goals, and really, you know, do some research on you know, this channel or that channel, really understand profitability metrics, or you know, a number of things that you realize, after you get going, maybe you didn't take the time to think through and plan out properly. So it's kind of like this, you know, more like one or two steps forward, and five steps back, you know, let's go way back here and figure things out. So. So that's what we see a lot. And then, and then, of course, we see just a lack of systems and processes. And that's something that we've really focused on. I mean, since merging companies three years ago, that's what we spent most of our time doing, is really dialing in our systems and processes around, you know, different e-commerce channels, and how do we onboard a new channel? What kind of research do we need to do what you know, what do we need to understand about the metrics and on and on and on. And so that's really what this is pointing to is that we can't have a balancers, there's not really the only healthy way to scale and maximize your e-commerce business is to really make sure all three of those pillars are solid. And not just okay, well, let's get a scrap together a plan quickly, as long as we have stronger expertise, that it needs to be really balanced and strengthen each one of those areas.


Aaron Conant  8:48  

No, I love it. Because I think, right now, there's been a mad dash for talent, you know, across the board organizations large and small in this idea, especially as you get to an executive level that I'm going to go hire a person. And they're going to take us to the next level. They I really liked this model, actually, because that one person, the expert in the middle can't lift that, that whole, that whole structure as a whole, right, there's going to have to be planning and then there's going to have to be the systems and processes in place. So that it all goes up together, you just can't have one pillar going up because then at some point in time, it topples. And so just you know, as people are thinking about, you know, building out the teams you're in, especially if you're a leader in the space right now. You can go hire the talent, and you should go hire the talent. But make sure you're equipping those people with the right planning and systems and processes. So I love this visual.


Michael Southworth  9:50  

Yeah. Thanks. And then Aaron, you just gave me another visual. You're saying that when you you know, when you hire a person with expertise, they're probably really good at one thing or maybe a couple things, but we often and we do this in our business, we try to find that that person that has, you know, can wear so many hats, and is good at so many different things, almost as can have different personality traits, in a sense. And we're really, you know, we call that person a unicorn. And if you try to picture a unicorn trying to balance, uh, you know, the top of this building, it's hard enough just to find the unicorn. And then the reality is, is that they, even though they can do all these things, they're still not going to be able to kind of run that show, you know, and manage that whole thing themselves. So


Aaron Conant  10:34  

Yeah, and you know, the other thing is, is if you are the resident expert, right, so all levels on the call today, if you are that resident expert, take that same visual and explain to the executive team, like, Listen, I can't lift this all on my own, I want to, I have the drive to, but physics or physics, right, that's, I can only lift that roof so high by myself. So.


Eric Morgan  10:59  

One thing I want to point out here really quick, just what's changed a lot lately or recently is that expertise, I think it used to be a lot easier to find top talent in e-commerce. And that's, that's very difficult now, just because of the strong demand and lack of talent out there.


Aaron Conant  11:17  

Right. I mean, which is an interesting point. And is, you know, just, if you think about it go back 15 months ago, all these eecom teams were undersized for where they're going to need to be right now. Right kind of kept off in the corner. You know, not a lot, Amazon can be our strategy, we don't need a DTC side, we don't need all this digital talent, we'll just ride in Walmart or catch up whatever it is. And those teams are kept small, and then you COVID hits, and everything gets ramped up. Now, e-commerce is five times bigger than it was, but those trained people is still a small percentage, that needs to be five times that number of people. So there's only one person available for, you know, five positions out there and digital right now. And yeah, so I agree. That's, it's a it's a crazy thing that's this taking place. So yeah.


Michael Southworth  12:10  

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, and that gets into, you know, the kind of underpinnings of, of this structure are really sorry, but you know, how you how you continue to evolve the team, and train the team. So if there's not enough people, you know, experience people out there to bring onto your team, you need to be able to hire people that don't have the experience necessarily have the characteristics of someone that you want on your team, you know, pulling pushing with you, and then the but the resources and, and the expertise to be able to give them to train them. And that's where we've found our you know, we've been able to be successful, because our, you know, as we built those processes, it allows us to hire the right people, for the team, as opposed to just the people with the right resume, which makes a huge different real difference, and really is much healthier, and from our perspective in the long term. So at any rate, it's this climate now, it almost forces you, in a way if to make smarter hiring decisions. But But you've got to have that that infrastructure, and the information in the way to disseminate to the train on an information. 


Aaron Conant  13:39  

Yeah, I love it. Yeah, cuz work on those two other pillars, and then the expertise in the middle, you can train it, but you also can find the perfect fit for your organization, whether it's, you know, personality fit, whatever it might be less on, hey, they've got 10 years of CPG DTC experience, they've launched three websites, go for somebody with the drive, and then provide him with the tool sets to grow. Awesome, right? So is this like a kind of like a self analysis that that people can? 


Michael Southworth  14:08  

Yeah, yeah, at the end of this, we've got an actual kind of assessment, the self assessment that we can email to anyone to go through and kind of score your score yourself, score your organization. But this is just some questions to, you know, to ask yourself that we ask ourselves, are we in a situation scenario where we're, we're most likely to kind of retract or our business will contract, you know, because of, because of, we're lacking in some of these areas, or kind of the, the, where we need to be if we want to scale scale these things. So the first one is this weekend is, you know, you're very reactive versus versus proactive. Are you just kind of like dealing with what needs to be done today. I've got to get I've got to get these listings up or we have this issue with Amazon's pressing a listing or we got, you know, where we are as a team mostly working in a kind of a reactive mode and just looking for direction, who are they? Are they spending enough time really being proactive and working from a plan? You know, and this is what we find is probably the number one thing when there's not a clear enough plan there, it's, it's really hard for people to to be proactive. They're just going to look for what can I do that needs to be done right now, or that's kind of like the next most important thing to do in So


Aaron Conant  15:34  

Yeah, I like that from even the list standpoint, right? Like everybody can have that list of things to do. But if you're not prioritizing it, right, then you're just randomly doing the next thing on the list. Not the most important thing. But the flip side of this is, you know, if you are are putting together a plan, but you still find yourself in your team works in do in a reactive mode. You know, some of that may be because, hey, this is an indication, I need to hire somebody. Right? When you're going back to the executive team, say, Hey, listen, we've got the plan, we can't execute on it. Right? Like, we need to scale the team. And here's what we're going to be able to do as opposed to, hey, we need to scale the team. Why? Well, because there's things we can't do. Why not? Like, but I don't know, is a different answer than hey, here's the plan. We're not executing on the plan. And we need to scale the team so we can execute on the plan.


Michael Southworth  16:27  

Yes, absolutely. I literally last week, I was going to networking event in me with it. There's a great company here, local local Utah manufacturer called Little Giant Ladders, you might might have heard of them, they make they make really great ladders. And I was speaking with their head of head of ecom. And, and he was speaking to that exact issue that they have so many things that they want to do, and things to do, but they're their team is limited. And upper management, you know, won't kind of allow them anymore, you know, resources or putting more money to it. So they're their capped. Because again, you can only do what you have bandwidth to do. So this is about having the plan is important that we increase but then you have to have in place, but then you have to have the resources in a structured time to be able to address those things. As opposed to because there is going to be reactive stuff. Like there are issues to deal with, there are things that are on the list that need to get checked off and done. But you in order to scale and really get get growth and maximize the growth, you've got to be able to put the time and resources towards the more proactive activities. Sorry, let me get into the next. Next thing moving ahead here. So another another thing there is around staying on top of trends or being behind just kind of like status quo, always playing catch up the unbind. And again, it's just a it's a resources, thing, because if you don't have the time or the structure time, so I I'd say it's in two happens in two ways. It's just sometimes it's the way the way people operate. Because they don't have that mindset. And they don't have their time structured well enough so that they just make time to to learn and educate themselves and understand what they should be doing or taking the time to be proactive. And sometimes it's just a matter of better resources, like you said.


Aaron Conant  18:36  

So when you think about trends as a whole, so besides, you know, BWG Connect events, right? How are you? You know, how are you guys staying or advising brands you're working with? To stay on top of e-commerce trends? Are there tools that you're using? Are there ways we'd love to hear your thoughts there? How do you keep your team up to date? How do you keep yourself up to date? I would love to hear if there's anything that you can share with people on the line?


Michael Southworth  19:04  

Yeah, for sure. Well, you know, there's a number of BWG is one of our our favorite sources already because always because Aaron is is the most connected and smartest person in e commerce that I know so so I'm making a point to chat with this guy at least a couple of times a month. So that's that's key. You know, there's a number of people that I follow and other people on our team follow on LinkedIn. And when we see a cool interesting article that somebody else is sharing our conversation that's going on, we're sharing that internally with each other and making sure that everybody takes time to dig into that understand and then you know, certain topics like a dig in and research this more on your own you know, and and find what you can there's there's great channels for e-commerce news out there, like just even Associated Press, you know, some of the biggest hottest things that come out and air posted one just yesterday right about Amazon, you know, crushing taking down 10 billion accounts or something counterfeit accounts like you know, really going after things in a big way there. There's an article, I saw that today on Digital Commerce 360 about Kroger, you may have already seen this, you know, last month, they opened their first robotic fulfillment warehouse last month, and they are plans to build 20 of them. So there's, there's a number of great new sites like that, that stay on top of kind of what what late what's the current kind of current events, current things happening? Another thing, we do have these kinds of conversations with different partners. You know, we work with a number of software companies, even even clients and brand partners, like just having those those collaborative conversations, the same kind of conversations that we have Aaron about, you know, what are you seeing? what's what's kind of keeping you up at night? What have you heard, you know, that kind of thing, those those, that networking, and collaboration is, is a key.


Aaron Conant  21:04  

I think from the planning aspect, that's key, because even the large organizations that you see kind of get caught up and go with Walmart, right? This seems like they're constantly playing catch up with with Amazon, where Amazon is not thinking about the next six months, Amazon is thinking five to 10 years down the road, what's the next thing we're going to dominate? And in that, you know, that long term perspective, hey, what's coming? What do I need to build for? What are the experts I need to bring on hand? What are the tools and systems and processes I need to put in place ahead of time? You know, that's where the networking, the education, the information, the, you know, setting aside, it's time to, you know, mine some of that data is, you know, it is self development, but it also helps you plan and execute for the next phase of your business. And, you know, most of us probably thinking, you know, the next year, which is probably good, because nobody knows where we'll be a year from now. And nobody can protected where we're at right now, you know, 15 months ago, but still the ability to plan and put that that that structure in place is invaluable.


Michael Southworth  22:16  

Yeah, absolutely, absolutely huge. And one of the things that we've done, it's been kind of fun at Elemerce too, to share that is we, we created it, we created this campfire, you know, in our, in our, our basecamp. In our project management system, where we, we all communicate, and we, we everybody comes with something that they've seen, you know, throughout the week, like, Hey, I came across this article, or, you know, as I was digging in to this account, I found this, you know, and this is something that worked on there's this constant that so fostering a culture of that collaboration within the team, and highlighting people and recognizing people when they bring those nuggets to light mood, and we'll we'll pick one of those, and then we'll share them like on our company LinkedIn profile. And so it's kind of getting everybody involved in that sharing, as opposed to just kind of top down, you know, we have a platform for training and we're, we're capturing all these things, but a lot of that kind of harvesting those nuggets, and those those new learnings are coming from within the team. So that everybody's kind of engaged, you know, in in finding and mining new information, as opposed to just one or two people.


Aaron Conant  23:38  

Awesome. Love it. And just a reminder, if people have questions, you have comments, drop them in the question section there shadowman, email them to me, Aaron And yeah, we'll we'll bring them into the conversation for sure. Cool.


Michael Southworth  23:55  

So again, this is another question, right? If you're, you know, marketing efforts are kind of status quo and stagnant. Or if you're always testing new strategies, and new channels, new opportunities, you know, we've really found that that that requires those systems and processes, the expertise is something that you're going to have to gain in those cases, there's something that's brand new, hey, we're going to test something you're not going to just go hire somebody with TikTok experience because we want to test this channel. You know, we've got we've so we've come up with systems processes for this is how we test something this is how, how much budget we start with, you know, this, these are the metrics that we're going to measure to find out and determine and we're going to prove with the client, you know, whether it's a win or not. So those things in this space, which obviously is evolving so quickly, like that's one of the best ways to stay on top of stuff is just keep looking for new opportunities and new things to test and just have a way to test those efficiently. Get the data back and determine, you know, is this is this good for us? Or is it not?


Aaron Conant  25:04  

Yeah, I like this, especially testing new strategies piece, because when you think about hiring, and the fact that we chatted like talent pool way under size for what we need right now, but you know, with strict digital experience, but the talent pool, as you know, as a whole isn't undersized, there's highly talented people that may lack digital experience, but might have, they're the perfect skill set. You know, for an ecom team, for a digital marketing team, if you think of it from the standpoint of where marketing is at today, like my background, I'm a chemist, right? You know, my, my degree is actually in chemistry and biochemistry. And I ran through what when I got to the e-commerce side of the house, basically undertaking, you know, the approach to anything from content to marketing, with a scientific approach where, hey, I'm gonna test as many things as quickly as I can, and then find the ones that fail and find the ones that win and run with the win, ones that win, and then fine tune that, and do that over and over again, as fast as I can. And if I can do that faster than anybody else, then I can beat everybody else. Because I know what works and what doesn't, ahead of everybody else. And so that's a unique mindset that you there, you know, millions of people out there whose brains think that way that you can go tap into while you're building your team, and setting aside that, hey, they have to have, you know, 15 years of digital marketing experience and go more with that, hey, a strategic person. Yeah, do you have? So a quick question that comes in here, give a recommended number of people, recommended number of people in their roles for a company with 100 ASINs, or 25 million in sales? Like, if that were to play out in Amazon, you know, and somebody were to build it or build their drive to consumer site? How many people do you have on that? How do you structure that? Is that a director of e-com? Is that a VP and a director? And is that tied in a performance marketer? Is it tied in an agency like you would love to know what to break that down? And then more than happy to connect you afterwards for a deeper dive? Because sometimes those questions, you know, can go down rabbit holes, but, you know, if you're, if you're taking a look at that, how do you see it 25 million in sales? About 100 ASINs so not 1000s, but 100 is pretty good number?


Michael Southworth  27:46  

Yeah. Well, I think at a high level, you know, at that, you know, at that level, and not see, you know, kind of maintaining that level, let's just call it a director level is probably, you know, is adequate to lead that team, I don't think you have to go to VP, but then you can, you're going to need, you know, your advertising, someone's that that's strong in the advertising sides when the strong and the marketing and content side. And then, you know, granted, you know, do you have the graphic, you know, the design team, copywriting team, and all that in house already, you know, for other purposes that can address that. So, if those things are said that you've got a minimum than then then then customer service, obviously, is another, you know, huge piece and kind of answering buyer messages and reviewing, you know, reading all the reviews and making sure that you're you're you're taking in the customer feedback. So, so I would see that as a, as a team of kind of a minimum four or five people. Probably commanders that you know, or you could hire an agency to that kind of has all those resources built in. 


Aaron Conant  29:00  

I mean, so that's a it's really an I have another question that comes in, that goes right down that path I just did, literally a LinkedIn post on this is the dilemma of build versus buy. Because if you're gonna go on, try to hire five people right now. I mean, it's expensive, you've got the training, the average time, so, you know, I'm talking to 30 or 40 brands a week, and what's the average length that somebody stay in a role, it's 14 to 16 months before they're jumping. So, you know, you'd love to have that person internally and Unbeknown or the brand and love it and grow it. And yet the flip side is, they may be gone because you know, somebody offers more money or, you know, relocation or whatever it might be. So it just says related to what you just asked, how do you determine if it's better to add members to the team or bring an agency on board? No, I did our job really quick is I wonder if something doesn't apply to this retract versus scale where you Do the assessment. You know? And if you're always in retract, then maybe you maybe bring, I don't know, maybe bring somebody in or maybe it's more advantageous to fix that and then bring on a I don't, or maybe if you're in retract you find an agency until you fix those things and then bring it in house. So you can maximize the performance?


Michael Southworth  30:21  

Yeah, yeah, well, it can, it can certainly, I mean, I think both both methods could address could be a way of addressing, you know, those issues in your, in your in retrack. mode. In my opinion, in my experience, if an agency is solid, and good, and going to deliver, you know, on, on what they promise, and really get the work done, that you're, the whole point there are, you know, half the point is kind of shortening that learning curve and speeding that up. So it takes you much longer to build a building, than to just go buy one that's already built, especially if it's the first time that you're building a building, and you have no experience doing that, you know, it's going to take much longer. So, I mean, this is all we do, every day, for many years. And it's taken us three years, to just, you know, to get to where we are, which is pretty solid, which is really solid, but there's, there's always so much work still to do, to keep to continue building, you know, it's not, it's never done. So it's kind of like I've looked at some great software ideas, I think, at least I think they're great ideas in my life, when I've been in a different business, anything, hey, I'm just going to build the software, it's great, I'll get some developers and we'll just build this thing, this tool, and it'll be cool. It'd be awesome. Though, anytime I talk to somebody that's in the software business, it's built an actual software company and been successful. They spent millions and millions and millions of dollars on development and maintenance and constantly keeping up you know, and so anyway, that's, that's my, of course, I mean, I might be a little biased coming from the agency side, I think, hey, let let let somebody else take that headache and kind of deal with the quickly cycling through people. However, I see real value in having an in house team, especially the direction things are going and we see that a lot with, with brands, with more and more of retail becoming e commerce, that this isn't a competency that we want to have in house. So, you know, to me, maybe the maybe the healthiest answer and a lot of cases is to be building your, your team internally, with the help of an agency, you know, kind of fill in those gaps and help in helping you kind of build that and train those people and grow, grow that team until you really have a solid, solid system, you have that complete Foundation, that complete structure built internally,


Aaron Conant  33:02  

What I see a lot is if you're going to hire an agency to be successful, you can't just say, Hey, I'm going to hire an agency to handle Amazon. And then just say, hey, go handle Amazon. Right? There's still somebody internally that owns Amazon. Right? And I mean, this was this was, you know, me before when I was on the brand side is, you know, when I'm growing an Amazon business, I'm in the middle of it. And I think Well, what do I do? If I hire an agency? Does my role just evaporate? The reality is no. value is now I'm more of a strategic player, because they can't make district strategic decisions agency doesn't make strategic decisions on what products to promote, you know, what is the pricing when we put in price creation, what is you know, final say on AVNs. But then on the performance marketing side, you know, in marketing, and then partner selection around fulfillment or whatever it might be, you're able to operate a different level. But that role can't go away. Like you're saying, like the digital, there has to be somebody guiding the agency partner that you bring in to just go hire an agency, any kind and you just set them loose, they're going to fail. Because they need that, that direction, those guardrails to be able to perform hey, here's the tool sets this what we want to do, you know, let's, let's go and you can't just turn it loose, they're there to make the Ferrari work. Not necessarily, you know, drive the Ferrari.


Michael Southworth  34:31  

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. That's a great point. And yeah, we need that that person kind of driving a lot of the decisions and collaborating with us and making those decisions. I mean, that's one of the things that holds us up the most when we come with an idea, you know, a proposal for something like hey, let's do this to try this. It's it's getting decisions. We're not going to go make all those decisions. So perhaps so all the really good gives that person that's the They're running Amazon or running DTC internally themselves. Yeah, exactly. It just gives them, it gives them now a whole team to be able to execute on all the things that they want to do.


Aaron Conant  35:11  

Right? Awesome. And the more I see this retract versus scale is gonna be interesting, as we keep going through here, the more I think I'm doing a self assessment, as I build out, and I scale a team, if I'm more in retract phase, I'm going, I'm going probably with an agency, that, for me to bring in a talent, if I don't have the processes, if I don't have everything in place, the tool sets, then it doesn't matter who I bring in, they're not going to maximize the potential. So bring in an agency so you don't get behind he keep pace or accelerate, and then fix all the internal issues until you get to the point where now not only, not only do you have things in place to maximize when you bring a person and then you can make the real actual business case, or is there value add to bring that person in what is better for the company, do I bring it internally, and these are the dollars I save on an agency. But you know, I give up on on salary and compensation and maybe performance, maybe not. But then you can actually do a base, a business case and a side by side to say, but I don't think I'm doing it. You know, if I'm in the retract phase, which you have laid out here, I think it's a it's a cool assessment.


Michael Southworth  36:27  

Right? And you're right, if you're, if you're in scale, if you got all these things at scale, and you're ready, you're rocking, like, That's awesome, you know, just keep bracket rockin and pour gas on that, you know that the next one we have on the list is related. It's just this is training education, you know, constantly advancing as a team, is there a platform, you know, not just in staying on top of trends, are they learning new skills are they are they, you know, expanding their toolbox in their capabilities. So that, you know, maybe they came on and they knew one thing, you know, Facebook, but now they now they know, you know, for things, buy things they that you know, or getting getting deeper and deeper in that in that specific field, or, or discipline. Again, we talked about already capital collaboration and communication, I mean, this, this really has to be structured. I mean, with as fast as quickly as things move. And as much work as there is to do it is so easy, and to get in kind of your own little bubble, and just get to work and crank and especially with this type of personality. You know, most people that are like kind of digital marketing experts and stuff, we found a lot of those people that are really analytical and smart cranking on things, they may not be the first ones to kind of reach out and collaborate, you know, with others on things. So it's, it's really easy. If you're not, we're not creating opportunities for that and structuring time and in events for that to happen, then it's it really very quickly gets missed. And


Eric Morgan  38:08  

Especially lately, too, with COVID, you know, everybody working remote, that's kind of changing now that that's that's an additional challenge of collaboration. But just fostering those environments that people can get together and you encourage that collaboration is definitely possible. We've found huge success with it, but um, you just have to put some effort into that.


Aaron Conant  38:29  

Are you doing like, like team events or anything? Like how did you guys handle cohesiveness across a team during COVID?


Michael Southworth  38:38  

Yeah, you know, we've have, we have kind of pods within our company, that it's like the account manager team and the advertising team and the copywriting teams and those teams and they'll have their own sort of sessions and collaborations, you know, once a week and some of them bi weekly or monthly meetings and monthly, we have a you know, an event event, meeting, a monthly company meeting. And we just try to instead of that just being a checklist of hey, here's where we are, here's how things are, here's the things we need you to work on. Like we try to kind of switch that up to have different members of our team of our management team, running in contributing to those meetings, training on something new or different, bringing in an outside kind of motivational, inspirational trainer, that's, that's giving some some training or coaching around kind of a life life skill, you know, not specifically something that obviously benefits them in their career in their life, but but just in life in general. And that, you know, we find that in our culture are big. We have a keyword that LMS that's grow and it's kind of an everything that we do that you know, that's what we exist to do for our clients. We're committed to kind of growing each of us individually and as As a team, as people, so as we kind of live up to that, you know, culture and that keyword and bring. So we just try to bring those elements to, you know, all of the meetings that we have all of the collaboration and communications that we have, we're really kind of fostering, that, that growing kind of thing. And it's, it's, it's great, I think we get a lot of feedback from people that it's that they enjoy being here. And back to your point about people, you know, cycling through quickly in this in this space. And just in the in the world, in general, these days in the business world. Having something like that we're making, we're a culture that makes people feel valued, and really part of a team that goes a long way to that retention.


Aaron Conant  40:48  

You know, I think what I found, you know, organizations that I'm talking to what you're talking about, as well as the communication aspect, right, build that in, right, that is core to building a team to scaling a team to having them feel like, they know why they're making decisions. And then as they grow in maturity and independence, you know, they have you know, that, you know, like you're saying the planning, where do we want to get too big, and then start to make decisions on their own without, you know, having to take up other people's time, and they can start feeling more independent and more ownership, and then that ties directly into, you know, retention of employee, right, I feel like I value here, I feel like I own what I'm working with. And I feel like they give me the freedom to make decisions that I want all those little, you know, intangibles that, you know, really keep a core foundation in place as a whole.


Eric Morgan  41:43  



Michael Southworth  41:43  

Yeah, sorry, Eric. 


Eric Morgan  41:44  

Yeah, I just say one other thing that I think gets overlooked sometimes is that balance too, because you don't want people in meetings all day long, you can have a stopping with your, you know, everybody, every day for two hours. So that how we structured it, like Michael said, is there's teams like the graphic design team, the copywriting team, the advertising team, or what whatnot, but then those leads just one person from each of those teams collaborate on a regular basis, and then bring pertinent information back to their teams. So you know, you can kind of be efficient and let people do their job and have time to do their job, but still have that collaboration where it's not overwhelming. 


Aaron Conant  42:23  

Awesome. Agree. Agree.


Michael Southworth  42:27  

Right, that's so cool. Well, I think our next thought was about about, you know, if we're spending time trying to this, this relates right to that training, a couple of things up the new scales, you know, if there's spending so much time trying to figure out how to deal with issues or find something, you know, or if they're able to get through those issues quickly, and spend more of the time on on more productive, you know, more proactive growth, you know, kind of focused initiatives, just the, the output is going to be, you know, dramatically different, obviously, and that speaks to kind of training and structuring the time and, and, of course, the resources. Again, to that, you know, dealing with a crisis, putting out fires all the time, again, it's, it's, there's so much of this, without the structures and things in place, in the right expertise in place, and the right systems and processes, then, then you just, you're in that mode, you're in crisis mode, you're dealing with issues, everything that comes up, like Amazon says to me, oh my gosh, what are we gonna do, you know, like, in everything becomes this, this big fire in this big focus, and then, you know, can can be almost all consuming, you know, to, to a person or to a team, if there aren't already kind of things in place on how to deal with that, and how to make sure that you keep everything else running, you know, that supposed to be moving forward and going well, this, this issue gets dealt with over here.


Aaron Conant  44:06  

So this is the processes port portion, right? I mean, I feel that a lot of just random, you know, calls and questions around Hey, XYZ happened. You know, pos didn't come in you know, FBA inventory got cut, you know, products got delisted. And, you know, there's the, there's a two ways like, Hey, we're gonna deal with this, or there's the mass scramble, we have no idea what we're gonna do. It seems like that comes down to processes as a whole. Is that kind of what this does?


Michael Southworth  44:39  

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. The information should be there. You know, this is, this is the procedure, here's how you go through it. Here's what you work on. Here's the frequency that you need to, you know, follow up and push through and if you're not getting the results you need, you know that so you've got using multiple layers of how to work through those those issues. But then you've also got You know, contingency in place like, here's, here's how we're going to deal with it, or here's a person that gets is going to deal with it. And then, and this is how we're going to make sure all of the other things that need to be worked on are going, here's our identifying if this is frozen right now, what other, you know, where, where can we divert resources that are, that's a value, you know, so. So it just kind of like, this stopped right here, we have to deal with this issue, what are we able to keep moving? What else are we able to now work on, you know, now that we've got this other time freed up here. So that's all you know, if those things are in place, you can still be efficient and keep things moving forward. And even, you know, turn lemons into lemonade kind of, you know, situation, if, if you've got those things in place. Awesome. See, in, you know, I mean, basically, if you have all if you're in so many of so many things in this retract side of the equation, you know, you're gonna be you're, you're dealing with problems, you're missing a ton of opportunity. Because you don't, you know, you're not spending adequate time on the on the other side of it, on the on the scheming side. And so you're, you know, where you could have made an investment, or you could have fixed an issue quicker. Or you could have found a new a new opportunity, or, or, you know, been quicker to the game, on a certain channel, you know, all of those things are just, you know, that that's where that's where we're just missing those growth opportunities, is it so this is basically kind of, at the end of the, you know, at the bottom of this list, you add all these things up, and this is what it turns out to be, but what you got, if you got all the systems in place here, make sure that your, you've got, you know, best practices are being you're up to date on those you're implementing them. And then there's checks and balances on all the compliancy issues, and all the things that are going to, you know, kind of keep the machine running, you just create that balance that, you know, kind of the Eric was referring to?


Aaron Conant  47:20  

Yeah, no, I love it. You know, especially as everybody's trying to make that evaluation of what to do next. You know, how do I do it? How do I scale I know, you know, even if it's stagnant growth, you're like, hey, how do I grow, I know, there's a ton of opportunity, roll through this list and say, Hey, you know, a real self assessment around, hey, you know, what, I'm 90% into retract mode, let me go through and fix all those. In the meantime, you know, jump out and find, you know, somebody to help you until you can get all those in place. And then if you're bringing somebody internal, you know, be closer to the scale side. So you can do that evaluation and give them the tool sets give them the process of planning to actually succeed as a whole. Everybody's much more fulfilled at that point in time. You know, are there other things that are like top of mind? And you know, if people have other comments or questions, you know, I think it's just some of the things that like examples of things that have come in for you know, whether or not you know, how big a, how big an organization should be, it's just thinking about, you know, the content, the product, catalog, advertising, marketing, analytics, reporting, orders, inventory, there's fulfillment. And then it says, here that forgot to add creative images, videos, customer service, new new providers mark a night, like you're saying, TikTok, how do I test it? Right, should I have SMS, you know, messaging, and, you know, all these different ways. There's a ton of stuff that's going on right now. And I think it's tough to find, like you said, you know, somebody that can handle it all. That's incredibly tough. So anyways, any kind of like, I see where we've probably got about three minutes left here. You know, I want to kick it over to like key takeaways. If there's anything else, he said, there's a self assessment or something that you could send out. If anybody wants that we can, we can have Michael and Eric shoot it over to you afterwards. But I do we want to say a quick thank you to everybody who dialed in and sending questions as a whole. We'd love to have a follow up conversation with any of you I don't have we don't sell anything here at BWG Connect. We're a networking group as a whole. If you'd like to, you know, have a list of our upcoming events. We'd love to have you join some of them. We have a think it's next week, a half day event that we're putting on and then pretty soon we're ready to back to in person events. I hope q3 sometime, but also if you're looking for help across the board, we've got a shortlist of service providers. That's everything from Amazon DTC performance marketing, SEO. You know, content syndication international expansion digital H3PLs more than happy if you're looking to outsource something to make some recommend We got a shortlist provided by the group in this area as a whole, clean Amazon DTC. You know, the team at Elemerce great brands, great partners, supporters of the network as a whole worth of follow up conversation for surely working with a bunch of different brands in that work. And that's where they came recommended from. So, you know, Michael and Eric, thanks for your time today. But yeah, key takeaways as a whole?


Michael Southworth  50:21  

Yeah, I think then, thanks, Aaron, so much. And it's a pleasure to be here and always a pleasure to have conversations with you, I think, really, it's just that we know that just about every company that's in the space is dealing with, you know, is probably in retract and somewhere, you know, in one of these areas, just because we we run into a time and time again, we run into our with ourselves and so, you know, what we're happy to do is just have a conversation with anybody that's running into these things and talk through you know, some of those issues and maybe ideas on how to how to address them. You know, what we do is, you know, we're, we're, we're happy to do take on as much of it as you need as an agency. But where we're unique is, is we really want to help help grow the team if that's the goal, and help grow your internal team then it would be really be a part partner in that in that evolution. And so you know, that can that so let's just start with a conversation I'm not I'm not here to try to you know, sell anybody on Hey, you should outsource everything to an agency because i don't i don't think that's the kind of long term goal and in the best interest of a lot of e-commerce brands a lot of companies that are that are making e-commerce a big big piece their business so I guess that's to me, that's a big v bind. We know their issues, we know their challenges, it's a challenge for us every single day, you know, and we welcome it. And it's fun because this is what we do. And we just love to to put our heads together with with other people out there and see how we can help.


Aaron Conant  52:07  

Awesome I mean, that's awesome because you guys come over is yes, you know, the references great partners, great partners for growth so in with that I think you know Eric, key thoughts in your side before we wrap it up here?


Eric Morgan  52:21  

I think Michael just hit it spot on. Yeah, it's just it's a fun space like e-commerce is growing we love being in it. Everybody on this call you're obviously have some kind of connection to e-commerce. It's it's a fun growing field. So just Yeah, thanks for inviting us, appreciate it.


Aaron Conant  52:37  

Absolutely. Well, thanks for being such great friends and partners and supporters of BWG network as a whole. Thanks for your time today sharing this data letting us ask you some questions put me on the hot seat. You guys you guys are awesome. Once again, thanks to everybody who dialed in look for a follow up email from us. We're also going to start posting a lot of this on our the event landing pages so if you check out and go to their the forum section and upcoming events. We're gonna start posting a lot of this content there as well, key takeaways. So we're just kicking that off right now. So there's not a ton of content but over the coming weeks, we should fill it out pretty nicely. So check that out. hope everybody has a fantastic Wednesday everybody. Take care, stay safe and look for a follow up email from us. Love to have a conversation with you. Take care, everybody.

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BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.
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