Finding Your eCommerce Leader

Finding Your eCommerce Leader

Finding Your eCommerce Leader

The online world and eCommerce baffles most business executives.  In the past, executives viewed eCommerce as technical and seemed only the geekiest could manage it.  Therefore, companies tasked IT with running the majority of the eCommerce business.

In order to run your website like a DigitalBranch, you’ll want someone in place who is responsible for oversight of your website(s), digital sales channels, online branding, and all related areas. This one key player must have two vital characteristics:

  1. Broad eCommerce experience with at least one specialty (digital marketing, website management, etc.)
  2. Management skills (proven experience fostering teams)

Depending on the size of your company, the other resources you have available, and the sophistication of your digital channel, you’ll need first to identify the experience level required. You might be able to get by with a lower level manager who has some digital marketing experience and can keep projects on track because they’d report to a deeply engaged and savvy Sales/Marketing professional.  Or you may need someone who spearheads the digital channel for a company that is competent in internal supporting roles like Finance and IT, but does not otherwise have a strong handle on online business.

If you’re lucky, you might stumble onto one of those few eCommerce professionals who got into the industry early enough to have seen it evolve over the past 15-20 years. They’re a rare breed, and because that moment has passed, there are no new inductees.

The Evolution of the eCommerce Professional

I’ve seen the hiring trends over time. What started as a mysterious, IT-managed project, then became an outsourced service often provided by a sinfle consultant. As the economy tightened – the consultant was seen as more budget-friendly than building a dedicated internal team.

As digital businesses became more valuable and more complex, it became necessary to build out the team. This is where companies started to look to bringing the role back “in-house.” But it’s not always a smooth process. It’s challenging for executives to define the necessary roles, figure out how to delegate responsibilities, and understand when to bring in additional help.  eCommerce talent is a very new specialty and mostly unknown to many hiring managers.

With your eCommerce leader at the helm and support from the executive team, you can begin to develop the team around that key player.

What Does the eCommerce Leader Do?

In order to find the candidate, you’ll need to define what is and isn’t their role. In all cases, you want your leader to have:

  • Strategy experience and a strategic approach to building your online business
  • Team-building and management experience
  • Creativity, diligence and agility

This role should oversee, but may not include the day-to-day functioning of the following. The tasks might be managed by existing departments, new hires or promotions or outside agencies:

  • Marketing
  • Merchandising
  • Creative/Design
  • UX/Usability
  • Operations
  •  IT/Development
  • Analytics/Optimization
  • Customer Service
  • Project Management
  • Finance

Driving Growth and Innovation

Your eCommerce leader should be challenged with growing your business. There are a few key metrics for defining what good growth may look like for your business:

  • grows revenue
  • improves margin
  • increases offline sales
  • improves company experience
  • providing value against competition

The executive team will be charged with setting these priorities and objectives for these growth goals. Once in place, the eCommerce leader is empowered and entrusted to build out the strategy and tactics to deliver these results.