The rise of e-commerce has created a wealth of career opportunities in the retail sector.
E-commerce accounts for 8.1% of retail sales in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. U.S. consumers spent $349 billion online in 2015, according to a study commissioned by the online retail company, RetailMeNot. Globally, more than $1 trillion is spent annually on products purchased online.
Those figures are expected to continue to grow throughout the next decade, which is good news for anyone considering a career in online retail.
Amazon, one of the world’s largest e-commerce companies, prepared for growth by hiring thousands of new employees. In 2015, the online giant increased its workforce by nearly 50%, to more than 230,000 employees worldwide. That figure does not include Amazon’s seasonal, part-time employees, which typically number 100,000 or more each year.
Tech jobs naturally are important at any e-commerce company, and opportunities abound for web developers and analysts. Yet, running a successful online store is not merely a matter of IT know-how.
An e-commerce company is first and foremost a business. Online retailers face the same challenges as brick-and-mortar firms, with the additional challenges of staying updated on the technical aspects of online sales and keeping up with ever-evolving consumer expectations.
The ideal e-commerce retail employee possesses an advanced understanding of business, as well as one or more aspects of digital marketing. Here are some growing professions that are integral to the success of any online retail company:
Digital Marketing Manager
A digital marketing manager oversees and coordinates the company’s online marketing efforts. Depending on the size of the company, a person in this position may be responsible for email and social media marketing, paid search, online customer outreach (think “chat” functions for instant customer interaction), social media influencer outreach and other promotional efforts.
High on any list of digital marketing priorities is social media. Facebook drives 63% of retail visits and about 85% of online orders from social media, according to Shopify. And no company can afford to ignore the customer-service and crisis management aspects of social media, such as quick public responses to negative publicity.
Supply Chain Analyst/Logistician
As online sales flourish, the importance of supply chain efficiency increases. As supply chain analysts and logisticians ensure products make their way from manufacturer to retailer and find ways to improve operations by making processes more efficient. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in this field is expected to grow by 2% through 2024.
An online company must present its products in an attractive way that can be navigated by a user, and easy to complete a purchase. The web developer and designer are responsible for making sure all of those requirements are met, as well as a host of other duties.
Web developers work with the marketing team to determine the look and feel of the digital storefront. Developers must anticipate and troubleshoot website performance challenges and make adjustments based on the results of testing and data analysis.
This is one of the fastest-growing professions in e-commerce, with an anticipated growth of 27% through 2024 according to the BLS.
Market Research Analyst
As with any business, market research is an essential element in e-commerce. Without it, a company will only be guessing about the size and makeup of its customer base and product line. Customer behavior and industry trends would remain a mystery.
A big part of a market research analyst’s job with an e-commerce company is monitoring the valuable data available through online analytics. The analyst uses the information to figure out what compels a user to make a purchase.
Data can answer a lot of questions in real-time. Valuable insights can answer questions like:
- Where and when did users land on the website?
- Did they arrive via a social media referral, an organic online search result, a paid online search result, a panel ad from another website?
- How long was the user on the company’s website?
- Did they use a desktop computer or mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet?
- Where does the user live?
The analyst is trained to use the data to spot trends and help develop plans for marketing, sales, product development and product launches.
Content managers, editors and writers create the material users read, view and interact with on the website. Content can include product descriptions, informational articles, how-to articles, entertaining videos, infographics and more.
In addition to providing information, the marketing purpose of this content is two-fold: to populate a website with material that will rank well when a user searches online for information about the product, and to compel the user to become a customer or a long-term fan of the brand.
Content managers, editors and writers use the power of story to generate interest and to inform users. E-commerce companies thrive when they are able to form a personal, emotional bond with customers, and content creators are responsible for cultivating that relationship.
Not even the finest development, marketing, data analysis and content management minds in the world can save an e-commerce company if the business is managed poorly. Like brick-and-mortar stores, an online retailer needs a business manager to take care of bookkeeping, human resources, cash flow, supply chain, payroll, tax planning and preparation, and every administrative function required to keep a company in business.