How to Hire an eCommerce Developer

These days, it can seem like everyone is a developer. And when it comes to building a simple website or programing for social media, they are abundant.

However, developers are becoming more and more specialized. There are so many different technologies out there with different programming languages, integration points, and development approaches. Companies with a specific platform, like the ones we work on, struggle to find and keep qualified developers to work on them.

The Diversity of eCommerce Developers

Complex websites today can have 5 to 10 different programming technologies at play. What platform is it on (Linux vs. Windows)? What base language does it use (PHP vs. C#)? Which Javascript framework does it use (React, Knockout, Angular)? Will it use a CMS or eCommerce platform (Episerver, Wordpress, Kentico or BigCommerce)?

Development is becoming more and more highly specialized, fragmented, and skilled. It is difficult, if not impossible, to truly be a “full stack” developer anymore.

What does this mean for your company? A one- or two-person IT department isn’t going to be able to effectively maintain and work on your eCommerce site. You need a team of developers with particular skills, or access to people with those skills.

Some of the roles include:

  • Front end design – creating the look and feel of the site, designing the User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX). This isn’t technically a developer role, but it’s an important skillset and part of the development process.
  • Front end development – building the HTML and CSS frameworks, creating the structure of the pages and the site
  • Javascript framework development – building interactive UI
  • Back-end development – working in the database structure, creating integrations to external systems and ERPs, and customizing in the specific platform (e.g. Episerver)

Think of it like a techy version of the A-Team. Remember the old television show with Mr. T? Each person has their role to play, only in this case they are sitting in front of computers instead of chasing bad guys.

The Problem of Poaching

When you have a particular platform, like some of the ones we work on, it can be really difficult to find and hire people with experience in that technology.

We have talked to companies recently who have been looking for someone for 6 months or more. HR departments aren’t used to not being able to find people. They don’t really get it, and aren’t set up to compete for these sought-after individuals. Companies end up engaging recruiters who work in the technology space.

This has created an environment where poaching is common practice. Our development team here at Brilliance gets calls all the time, nearly on a daily basis.

This can be frustrating for companies because they bring people in and invest the time and resources to train them, only to have them leave or be poached by someone else.

Hacks For Hiring eCommerce Developers

At Brilliance, we go through an extensive process to find the right people. We have refined our hiring process several times to identify and attract the best fits for the position. We’ve worked hard to build and maintain our A-Team of developers.

When looking to hire a new member of your development team, you most likely will not find any one person to meet all the detailed inventory of your needs.  So, plan to do extensive training and focus your hiring on these two parts:

  1. Technical Exam - We require a technical exam that takes several hours of commitment by the candidate to show us they know what they’re doing and perform a deep dive into some, but not all, of the skills required. One of our experienced developers performs a mini-code review of the exam results with the candidate when they come in for an interview.
  2. Great Cultural Fit - It’s important to find an eCommerce developer who fits into your company’s culture. We use our company values in our hiring process, and ask candidates how they demonstrate and embody those values.  We like to use a panel interview to show the candidate the importance that this hire represents for us.  This also gives all the panel members a chance to hear the same answers from the candidate.  Our panel includes a senior level manager, direct manager, project manager, and a peer.

Taking the Time for Training Your eCommerce Developer

At Brilliance, we also have a 3- to 6-month long onboarding process for training new developers and getting them up to speed. Of course, they need to get to know processes, customer-specific situations, and our tribal knowledge. Usually, they need additional technical training on specific tools and platforms beyond the basics and even advance knowledge of the languages. But, it’s also important to engage them in practical projects as quickly as possible so they can contribute in a tangible way. This is usually done by having them interface and work with other developers on a project, which improves the development experience as well as the outcome.

The A-Team Alternative

It has taken a lot of time and effort to establish these systems, to put together an A-team of developers and stay up-to-date on the skills needed for the work of eCommerce development.

Companies who are considering taking on an eCommerce project on their own should be aware of these challenges. It’s not that easy! This is why Brilliance offers not only eCommerce development but also eCommerce maintenance packages.

You may have developers who know your internal systems really well. We encourage our customers to bring in their internal developers to work alongside the Brilliance team and even take over the site after the major development is done.

We work closely with our clients’ development teams during an eCommerce build. There are training options for many platforms to teach your team the basics, and we are able to help your team take the next step after their training. But adding a new technology to someone’s skill “stack” is challenging. One thing we do a lot for our clients is field questions from their internal developers when they get in over their heads.

Perhaps the best option isn’t to try to hire an internal eCommerce developer for your company, and instead… "If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire…” the Brilliance A-Team. (Nod to my 80’s brethren).

What plans or goals do you have for your company’s online sales? Reach out to Brilliance and we can help you figure out what it takes in terms of talent and technology to reach them.

David McDonald

Director of Development

About

David McDonald

David serves as the Development Director at Brilliance Business Solutions and is an Episerver Certified Developer.  He has over 25 years of software development and database knowledge from companies such as NASA and Rockwell Automation that equips him to provide architecture and expert services to Brilliance clients.

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