011 - E-commerce Onboarding: Streamline Success for Your Team

Welcome to Women Powering E-commerce, where we delve into the world of female e-commerce entrepreneurs. In this episode, we will explore the crucial topic of onboarding new team members. As an experienced entrepreneur in the field, I have refined my onboarding process over the years and encountered valuable lessons along the way. Join me as I share effective strategies and insights to help you streamline your onboarding and set your team members up for success.

Welcome to Women Powering E-commerce, where we delve into the world of female e-commerce entrepreneurs. In this episode, we will explore the crucial topic of onboarding new team members. As an experienced entrepreneur in the field, I have refined my onboarding process over the years and encountered valuable lessons along the way. Join me as I share effective strategies and insights to help you streamline your onboarding and set your team members up for success.

1. Streamlining the Onboarding Process

Creating a pre-arrival checklist is essential to ensure a consistent and efficient onboarding experience. Just as pilots rely on their checklists before taking flight, having a comprehensive list ensures no crucial steps are missed. The checklist includes important items such as preparing and signing a contract, clarifying reporting structures, setting up necessary accounts, and providing the right permissions. By following a checklist, you can save time and establish clarity right from the start.

2. Introducing the Onboarding Plan

In addition to the checklist, attaching an onboarding plan to a welcome email is a valuable practice. This one-page plan outlines the expectations of the new team member within the first 90 days of onboarding. It includes essential resources, training, platform access, and an overview of company culture, values, products, and services. The plan sets clear goals and outlines accountability expectations. By providing this comprehensive document, you empower your team members with the knowledge and confidence they need to excel in their roles.

3. Creating an Informative Onboarding Email

The onboarding email is a reference point for new hires throughout their training process. It consolidates vital information and acts as an important introductory resource. Within this email, informing the existing team members about the new addition is crucial. By sharing the news with the team, you create a warm and welcoming environment and allow everyone to prepare to support and guide the newcomer effectively.

4. Setting Expectations for the First 90 Days

To ensure a smooth transition and foster comfort within the new role, setting clear expectations for the first 90 days is important. In the welcome email, outline the initial tasks, training sessions, and coaching support the new team member will receive. Depending on the position, provide a roadmap that guides them toward becoming proficient and confident in their responsibilities. Highlight the importance of ongoing learning and emphasize that onboarding is an ongoing process tailored to their specific role.

5. Tailoring Onboarding to Industry-Specific Needs

In certain industries, such as e-commerce, onboarding may require an extended period of time due to the complexity of the products or services offered. For example, onboarding may involve extensive training on health-related topics in the pet health industry. By dedicating sufficient time to train team members, you ensure exceptional customer service and demonstrate your commitment to their growth and well-being. Nurturing a culture of care within your organization contributes to the overall success of your business.

6. Leveraging Online Training Platforms

To enhance the onboarding experience, many businesses have transitioned from traditional in-person or one-on-one virtual training to online training platforms. These platforms provide a centralized hub for knowledge and resources, making it convenient for both the new team member and the organization. Popular platforms such as Trainual and Notion offer comprehensive features that facilitate training and serve as reliable references for team members throughout their journey.

7. Continuous Improvement

As an entrepreneur, staying open to new ideas and adapting your onboarding process as needed is essential. Drawing from my experience running a SaaS business, I have gained valuable insights to implement in our future onboarding endeavours. By remaining receptive to new strategies and refining our approach, we can ensure that our team members receive the best possible onboarding experience.


Efficient onboarding is crucial for the success of any e-commerce business. Following a well-defined onboarding process can set your team members up for success and foster a culture of growth and collaboration. From creating a pre-arrival checklist to providing an onboarding plan and leveraging online training platforms, there are various strategies to streamline the onboarding experience.

Remember, onboarding is an ongoing process that requires continuous improvement and adaptation. By staying receptive to new ideas and incorporating industry-specific training, you can ensure that your team members feel valued, supported, and equipped to excel in their roles.

With a strong onboarding process in place, you can empower your team members to take action, achieve their goals, and contribute to the growth and success of your e-commerce business. Together, let's inspire and uplift each other as we navigate the exciting journey of entrepreneurship in the e-commerce world.

Episode Transcription

011 - E-commerce Onboarding: Streamline Success for Your Team

Suzie Cyrenne (00:00):
Welcome, e-commerce empresses, to this episode of Women Powering E-commerce. Join me every Tuesday and Thursday as I take you behind the scenes of my journey as a female e-commerce entrepreneur. Together we'll explore the highs, the lows, inspiring you to take action and achieve your own business goals. So let's get started.

All right. Today I want to talk about my onboarding process, onboarding a new team member. And I can say that over the years, I've onboarded a lot of people, and I still do nowadays on a regular basis, and I've changed my onboarding process as the years have gone by. I don't say that I have the official best onboarding process. I feel it still needs to be fine-tuned a little bit, but there are some things that are really working well, and that's what I'm going to share with you. And if there are some things that are not working as well, I'll maybe share that with you as well. But I'll explain to you why, just so if my experience can help you and not make the same mistakes, then great. You'll have saved some time.

So first thing I want to share with you is the fact that I have a pre-arrival checklist to make sure that I don't forget anything. If you want to make sure that you streamline your onboarding and make sure it's always the same, then having a checklist is the easiest thing to do. Just like pilots, even if they flew so many airplanes, what do they have and what do they do before they fly the plane? They check their checklist. So it just really assures you not to forget anything. So number one, I have a reminder to prepare a contract and also make sure it is signed before we work on anything. I didn't have a contract before, like a couple years back, but now whether you're an employee or a regular subcontractor or freelancer, we have you sign a contract. That way, we just feel that for both parties, it is just the easiest and simplest way to do things. That way everything's clear and you're set to go.

And in the contract, we had it legally made by our lawyer, just to make sure that we're covered, and we make sure that it covers us. It protects us, but it also protects the person who signs it, so always a good start. We make sure they know who to report to. So when someone onboards, it's easy maybe to forget to tell them, "Oh yeah, and your manager will be that person." So sometimes it's easy to just onboard, watch this training, read this, do that. But we want to make sure that the onboarding goes well, and they know who to report to when they'll have questions and need any support. So that's definitely one thing I try to do as soon as possible. So even during the interview, sometimes, I'll say, let's you're joining the marketing department, "Well, great. Well, if you work with us, you'll report to this person, and this person's role is to do this, and she or he will help you with this and that." It helps them already imagine in what department they'll work, where's the role within the company, so I feel that helps.

Then I have an item to set up all accounts and with the actual accounts to set up because it's so easy to forget one. Nowadays, we just have so many things and accounts to set up. So we want to make sure that we don't have to run back and forth. Oh, we forgot to give them access to this or that. And if you do give them access, you want to make sure you give them the right permissions because that, too, you can lose time over, "Oh, you gave me access, but I don't have permission to do this and that." So that's just one thing. We'd just like to check off a list.

I now attach what I call an onboarding plan to a welcome email. I create a just one-page plan of what they can expect to know within the next 90 days when they onboard. So it'll include all resources they'll need, training, platform accesses, kind of just a brief overview. I also write a set of goals and things they have to know at the end of the 90 days. So make sure you're comfortable with our company culture or values. You should know our products and services pretty well, all those things in general, and anything related to their department. I tell them also how they'll be accountable on it. So I'll include all kinds of things like that in the onboarding plan. I can maybe show you later, I'll give you a copy, but that's we what we do.

And we include all as much information in one onboarding email. It becomes like a reference, very important introductory email and that they can refer to later on within their training or onboarding process. So that usually is pretty much what I do. That's what's on our checklist and I'll add as well on there as the last item to remember to tell the team because sometimes everything goes superfast. I've onboarded people before and forgot to tell the team, "Oh yeah, we onboarded someone. We have a new hire. They're already working." So I feel that if you want your new hire to feel welcome, it's important to make sure you tell the team. And also, it helps your team prepare to welcome the person properly so they feel welcomed right from the start.

Did you know you can get a refund for all the late shipments from your e-commerce business? Yes. Keeping your carriers accountable for their shipments is possible. With Buster Fetcher, you can get all the available refunds you have by creating an account in less than five minutes. Visit busterfetcher.com and discover an effective way to reduce your next shipping invoice.

And I also make sure they know what to expect in the first 90 days. Yes, I have some of it laid out on the onboarding plan, the one-page onboarding plan I give them. But I also try to detail, okay, usually maybe I'll do it depending on the position, but in the email, the actual welcome email, I'll just list a few things like, "Okay, well, the first couple days you can expect this. You'll learn this," I'm usually more precise the first couple days, "And then the first couple weeks, you'll go through this type of training. This person will be your coach throughout the process. He or your manager that you'll report to, they'll be the one that help helps you." So just to give them kind of a path until they become very comfortable in their role and position.

And for my e-commerce and for the industry we're in, which is pet health, onboarding someone fully will take, for sure, the full 90 days because it's not like this for every position. But in our case, for our specific e-commerce, the learning curve is long because we include a lot of trainings since we're health-related. And we want to make sure that everyone who onboards our team, they have general things to know about our products, just health care information in general for pets, things like that, just to make sure they serve the customers very well. For us, it's very important. One of our core values at Zumalka is care. So we want to make sure that not only our customers feel cared for, but also even the ones that onboard, we feel that if we take the time to train them properly, they'll feel cared for. And then if we take care of them properly, they'll take care of our customers.

So to facilitate our onboarding, we decided to go from in person, or should I say one-on-one virtuals. We used to do our trainings like that, at the beginning, that's what I did verbally for, I blabbed for days. And then we moved that on to Google Docs. We listed all of our trainings, our procedures, did some videos. It worked out well. But eventually, we felt the need to have an online training platform, which we got. We used a platform that I still recommended, still loved up till today. It's called Trainual. It really served us for many years, but since we need to refer to the platform as a knowledge hub on a daily basis, it wasn't as convenient for us. So we decided to stop using that one. And now we're migrating to a platform called Notion. And Notion is excellent. It's an excellent all-in-one platform, and I've been using it in the past couple of months and absolutely love it.

So that was what we did before and what we're doing for the online platform. But as of today, and also from running also a SaaS business with my husband and helping companies lower their shipping costs, I've learned a lot of new things, and I definitely want to implement in our onboarding process in the future. So I'll share that with you. It's something that I'm actually implementing now in a more structured way. And actually that's one of the first things I'm trying to do is be more structured with the onboarding. I already am, but I see place for improvement. And one of those things, also, is to set goals in advance.

I used to hire someone. They had their job description. Yes, they knew what their responsibilities would be for their role. But then I just onboard them, let them get used to the environment or culture or company or products or services, and then we would sit down and talk KPIs and metrics. But I don't want to do that anymore. I see the value in right off the bat, just day one, what's your KPI? What's your metric? Even if you have one, even if they cannot measure it right away, they'll know exactly what to focus on in the first couple of weeks, which is tremendous. It helps the new hire know exactly where to focus on right from the start. I think it's very good for them, but it's also very good for us, of course.

Another thing I realize I am lacking and want to implement is book some meetings in advance when they onboard with the new hire. For example, I want to make sure I don't forget anyone and I follow up with everyone, so I want to book a meeting maybe because I don't usually do the training of the person. Usually the manager of the department will usually take them on and mentor them and coach them. But I still want to have regular meetings with them just to make sure they're doing okay, answer any questions.

If they have any administrative questions, then I'm the go-to person. Usually what I'll want to do and I have done, but not on a regular basis, is just day one, or even prior to that, you come in or here's your welcome email. I've already set up a few meetings in your Google calendar, for example. So end of first week, we'll meet, end of first month, maybe month two, month three at the end of your probation. So I think that setting those in advance and letting them know in advance will help them feel more confident already from the start. They'll know what to expect in that way. I'm also sure that I'm not going to forget anything and anyone.

So that's one thing. And finally we've started doing this as well, I'm still testing it out, is giving them some books or audiobooks to read or listen in advance. The reason for that is to fine-tune the culture fit. We'll put a lot of effort into making sure that they're a good culture fit, meaning that they fit within our company values, our mission, our vision. And in order to make sure they fit even more and they really get the way we're thinking about things, a really, really great way to do that is through reading and listening to audiobooks. So I've tested that for a couple of new hires lately, and we'll see. The power of reading is too important not to try to expand and grow that onto the other team members. It's just too much part of me. So I really want the others to benefit from it. And some of them, they don't read a lot. So it's a great way to introduce that great habit to some of the team members.

So here it is in a nutshell, and this is a short summary of what we do for the onboarding process. And if you have any questions, feel free to just email me, suzie@womenpoweringecommerce.com. I'll be happy to answer your questions. I'm there for that, too. So your support is definitely crucial in helping inspire more and more women entrepreneurs, and one way of doing that is by sharing this podcast.

Thank you for being part of this journey with me. I hope you gained valuable insights and inspiration today to keep growing and taking action towards your goals. Please follow me on social media. Also follow us on your favorite podcast platform to get notifications every time a new episode is uploaded. See you next time.