The ecommerce industry is growing sales by an average of 30% each year and reports show that the industry will reach $1.6 trillion in sales this year.
Digital commerce is by far the most complex type of business. Customer expectations have risen dramatically. Modern consumers — who are used to interacting with brands across multiple channels — expect an online company to provide a joined-up experience.
Responsibility for overseeing your ecommerce site, utilising sales channels, online branding and other related tasks falls to one key player in your organisation — your ecommerce manager.
Although you need no formal qualifications to get a job as an ecommerce manager, this person must be trained to take commercial ownership of your profits and losses.
They need to be responsible for overseeing, leading and effectively managing the ecommerce business and ultimately driving it forward.
As a business owner, you need to be confident that your ecommerce manager has the right mindset and an ability to
create the right commercial environment in your company.
Your ecommerce manager must have a strategic mind
An ideal ecommerce manager:
- Envisions long-term market potential and business opportunities;
- Generates strategies for addressing future market scenarios;
- Positions the business to capitalise on them using innovative and analytical thinking.
Further, the right strategic thinker will be competent at:
- Employing research and customer data;
- Drawing upon best practices to drive the business;
- Seeking out opportunities, making improvements and suggestions that will positively improve your business.
Your ecommerce manager must know how to drive results
Strategic thinking is indispensable but an ecommerce leader also must have an excellent track record of driving results.
Results ultimately mean SALES and SALES alone. The ideal candidate cannot only project the goals, mission and strategy — they must also know how to turn it into a viable plan to deliver on the commercials.
Personality traits that serve this role well are pragmatism and flexibility. The candidate will also possess the ability to focus and execute in a competitive and fast-paced selling environment.
Ecommerce management touches on so many areas that it's unfortunately easy for key players to get distracted with time-consuming tasks that do not affect the bottom line. Successful leaders in this field will be able to focus on the key issues and make useful and sensible recommendations outside their area of expertise to their team or partners.
Like a good Project Manger, a good Ecommerce Manager will work towards a key goal, but rely on strong teams and experts to help get them there. They'll gain efficiencies by allocating internal or external partners to carry out key tasks. They'll take responsibility for these partners, but learn to trust and take actions based on results, rather than micro-management.
The right ecommerce manager is one who steps up and accepts responsibility for results — whether good or bad — and expects the rest of the ecommerce team to follow suit.
Successful operational leaders can balance the drive for business urgency with the ability to motivate, attract and retain strong talent that will form the backbone of a successful team.
Your ecommerce manager must be a skilled influencer
The ability to influence is a critical skill for success in ecommerce, as ecommerce often requires strong partnerships with merchandising, marketing, technology and retail operations.
Without strong, effective coalitions, processes and relationships, ecommerce will not thrive.
The most successful people in this sector possess both personal confidence, a willingness to listen to other ideas and act on them when relevant.
They are confident and tenacious but also have high emotional intelligence. These are traits that allow them to push the business forward while building consensus along the way.
For your online business to succeed, you must be confident that your ecommerce manager is performing on each of these functions, without any excuses.
Digital commerce is all about growing sales in line with company strategy and objectives — technology is just a tool for achieving that end. Therefore being able to manage and implement changes effectively are key drivers for success in this role.
Although the ecommerce manager is the evangelist for your company, the key to any successful online business is their ability to improve your sales.
Note: The original version of this article was published in June, 2015.