Updated: Feb 18
In 2020, when offline stores stumbled during the pandemic, the eCommerce sector generated a revenue of $64 billion in India and is poised to grow at 18% year on year.
As a direct consequence of this accelerated growth, the eCommerce job market is booming and is expected to grow exponentially. That means that now is the best time to build a career in eCommerce.
But how do you leverage the eCommerce job market? What skills do you need to start a career in this booming sector? How do you upskill and prepare yourself for the ride? This guide will answer all of these questions.
4 reasons to start your career in eCommerce
1. Limitless opportunities and roles
eCommerce is a complex sector and nearly everything can be sold online today. Once you get into this sector, you can either take up a technical role or settle for a more creative one in the company.
Plus, every retail business covers various functions from inventory control and order fulfillment to marketing and sales, so working in eCommerce will equip you with skills that will remain in demand for at least the next 15 years, and could even set you up for success in your own venture
2. Managerial outlook
The eCommerce business sector today has several startups, and direct-to-consumer retail is a growth opportunity today. Most of these up-and-coming entities are run by small teams. Consequently, you will gain exposure to running and managing business operations even if you sign up at the entry level. The skills you pick up therein can open up several opportunities in India’s booming startup market.
3. Customer obsession from day one
Being able to directly interact with your customers in a sales context will give you great insights into consumer behavior. It will allow you to train your focus to always enhance a customer’s satisfaction, which further determines what changes need to be made to your product or your offering.
There’s that old adage- the customer is king. Retail will show you that indeed, a customer today is God- with all of the tools at their disposal today, they are empowered to form and share opinions far and wide. And customer obsession is a skill that will eventually help you succeed in leadership roles.
4. Improved decision-making skills
eCommerce businesses work with real-time data to make more informed decisions based on the current metrics and instant feedback from your customers. As you implement strategies based on these parameters, you will see changes taking place in real-time. There’s no better way to learn than in the real world, and eCommerce retail is as real as it gets.
Reading data and making data-driven decisions every single day exponentially improves your learning curve.
The Technical And Non-technical Skills Needed For A Thriving eCommerce Career
Now that you know WHY eCommerce, you must be wondering how to get your foot through the door. Here are the skills you need to succeed in eCommerce, split into technical and non-technical skills.
Legendary composer Hans Zimmer has just said that his most important musical instrument is the computer. Not a violin, not a piano
Creative professionals, non-tech workers, managers, leaders- everyone is using technology today, knowingly or otherwise. The trick is to let tech empower us without being overwhelming.
Here are some skills that will always hold you in good stead in eCommerce.
2. Data analysts are also vitally important to an eCommerce brand. With vast swathes of data flowing in from so many sources, an analyst has the job of categorizing this data and using it to derive business insights. To be hired as a data analyst, a degree in statistics followed by working knowledge of R or Python, and some experience in data visualization is asked for.
3. In eCommerce, customer experience is at the very core of the business itself. If customers have a good shopping experience, they are likely to recommend the store and even come back for another purchase. This is why the role of a UX developer is vital for eCommerce companies. Using a mix of code and visual design tools, you get to craft and tweak the user experience on the website, and measure the outcomes of your efforts. HTML5, CSS, Java, and Flash are in the toolkit of every good UX developer.
While technical skills are necessary and are most often asked for in interviews, succeeding on the job will involve looking beyond your core skill-set to find areas that are of interest to you, and are valuable for an eCommerce company. Some example include
1. eCommerce Marketing: If you intend to look beyond the basics, dig deeper into aspects of digital marketing that will help you grow your audience.
For starters, focus on SEO and its impact on product pages, how to write and run Google Ads, how to set up and run Instagram as a sales channel, and how to set budgets for these activities. A basic course on digital marketing would help here.
If you are more inclined towards content creation, you can look at designing your company’s content marketing plan, writing blogs, making social creatives, and so on. eCommerce marketing is a vast domain and there is something to explore for everyone
2. If your interest lies in retail operations, working knowledge of how to manage product catalogs on an eCommerce website, including adding and removing products, editing product pages, adding products to the online inventory, and so on is helpful. The best way to learn this is to set up a dummy eCommerce store account and explore it.
Retail operations cover the entire gamut all the way from inventory management and ensuring products are not out of stock, to accepting orders, picking, packing, and shipping. In the eCommerce context, retail operations go right up to order fulfillment and returns logistics.
3. Customer success is a key role in every eCommerce company, and it closely ties in with UX design and development. If you are a UX developer with an interest in customer success, you would be a very valuable asset for a growing brand. In this domain, you address and handle customer complaints, design better feedback loops, understand what happens beyond order fulfillment, and work to better the customer’s experience at every step.
eCommerce is a particularly fast-moving domain and the smallest of errors can prove to be costly. Communicating what you need in advance helps prevent these mistakes from ever happening.
Finding The Right eCommerce Job
If you’re looking to begin a career in eCommerce or move to a different eCommerce company, one of the best ways to find a job is to ask friends and acquaintances who are in the same domain. People who know us personally are more likely to give us an opportunity.
Another great way to find relevant opportunities today is to set up job alerts on LinkedIn. You can set up alerts for specific roles in your city, and also reach out to the person who posted the job.
Once an opportunity presents itself, the next step is being noticed. As we’d discussed earlier, several eCommerce ventures today are small businesses and the people in the system may not have the time to go through every application that comes their way.
Taking the time to write a relevant cover letter highlighting why you are a good fit for the job will often get you better responses than a standard application. When sending out your CV, ensure that your cover letter addresses your suitability, while also directly speaking to the recruiter.
The eCommerce domain is expanding faster than it can expand its workforce, and there’s no better time to get on the opportunity train than right now. Apart from building a meaningful career in a domain that directly faces the customer, a stint in eCommerce will give you great insights into people and set you up for success in whatever you choose to do later.