1994 seems to be the year in which the first ever online purchase was pioneered. Pizza Hut claims it was them, meanwhile one of the Internet’s first eCommerce sites, NetMarket, believes it was their sale of a Sting CD which changed the face of how the world trades. Since 1994 however, the world of eCommerce has erupted and evolved beyond all recognition. It has become a Goliath of a transactional platform where billions of global currency are spent annually. As a consequence, eCommerce recruitment has had to evolve alongside it. Recruiters have had to shift their focus toward individuals with a bank of diverse and far-reaching skills.

Fast forward 24 years from that first desktop purchase, however, and we enter a digital utopia where 38% of UK consumers buy products directly from their smartphones at least once a month. A world where apps with push notifications allow consumers to track purchases and returns, to seek alternatives and to ensure they are never paying more than they need. A world where GPS data from smartphones is used to track consumers’ locations and can direct buyers on a path to a potential purchase. One in which businesses are able to build stronger links with consumers than ever before; always present to capture their attention and be the devil on their shoulder, encouraging them to spend with “every step you take” (as that trailblazer Sting would say)!

The explosion of social media has also had its role to play. These far-reaching platforms have rapidly become a vast ocean of possibility. 39% of consumers use social networks as an inspiration for purchases. Plus, companies routinely use celebrity accounts to endorse their products. Marketing teams are able to use previous searches and “likes” to target individuals and advertise accordingly.

How this is changing eCommerce recruitment

Twenty years ago, eCommerce was all about conversion rates and customer capture. Now, it is fair to say that data is king and heavily dictates the landscape. Businesses use data to ensure that the whole process is personalised. As digital marketers, you are in a position to drive and direct user experience throughout the entire customer journey.

What has this meant though for eCommerce recruitment, and how has this adapted and evolved within such a diverse and multifaceted arena?

It would appear that the term “eCommerce” is no longer enough. Tapping “eCommerce” into the search box of Indeed.com, the breadth of requirements in each job description is staggering. Candidates must be skilled in customer acquisition, CRM, CRO, multi-channel platforms, PPC, SEO, UX, campaign analysis, web analytics – to name but a few. It has become a discipline in which you are looking for a T-shaped marketer; a role which requires a light level of knowledge in a broad array of skills, and a deep ability in a single one (or a few). Never has the term “a jack of all trades” been so relevant.

At Ignite Digital, we have advertised a host of “eCommerce” manager positions for our clients. Many times we have used different titles for these roles. Why? We must advertise what the client is actually looking for beyond the generic “eCommerce” job spec. Are they after an “E Retail Manager”? A “Digital Manager”? A “Performance Marketing Manager“? Or perhaps a “Channel Manager”? The list is endless.

The eCommerce recruitment of the future

With these points in mind, it might just be best in our world of recruitment to stop getting so hung up on the term “eCommerce” entirely. Maybe the whole gamut of the broader term requires it to be so. It could be argued that the smarter way to work would be to analyse the required skills of the position rather than concentrate on the job title alone; to avoid judging the book by its cover so to speak.

One thing is clear, however, online transactional activity is here to stay. We are not moving backwards, nor are we ever going to stand still. Over time, eCommerce recruitment will continue to change, requiring more fluidity from its professionals. A solid understanding of how data acquisition and usage will dominate this agile and ever-changing beast is essential. It is this that will secure success for retailers, and those looking to work for them.


How is your eCommerce recruitment going at the moment? I am highly experienced at placing ‘eCommerce’ candidates into high growth start-ups to FTSE 250 listed companies.

If you are looking for a new eCommerce challenge, please get in touch.

About the author: As a founder of Ignite Digital Talent, I lead our brilliant team to ensure we deliver time and time again for our clients. I also stay closely networked with industry influencers to ensure we are well placed to understand the issues and challenges our clients face.

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