What To Know, Do, And Think For A Career In E-Commerce Marketing

If you’re seeking a gold rush, look no further than the growth of e-commerce. Driven by digital transformation, accelerated by economic shifts and the Coronavirus, e-commerce retail sales continue to rise in nearly every category globally. This creates more than billions of dollars in revenue for companies; it creates thousands of great jobs for ambitious people.

As an advertising creative turned marketing strategist, I think about the skills needed to go from one job to another, even within related industries. There are things you have to know, things you need to know how to do, and increasingly, mind shifts you need to make.

I spoke to three e-commerce marketers about what it takes to be great at online commerce. 

What you should know

Depending on the size of your company, you will need a degree of familiarity or proficiency with five common marketing levers:

In addition to the above capability areas, there are several functional areas to understand:

“There’s not much you can’t learn on the job,” notes Joan King, SVP Ecommerce at Crate & Barrel, who shares that the company grows a lot of their talent internally. “Certainly, it helps to have people who know the trends and the areas. There are a lot more levels of technology and breakouts of roles.” 

While some roles require specialization, many successful folks are T-shaped, with broad experience in multiple and depth in one to two topics, according to Ricky Busby, director of eCommerce and website content strategy at Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products. “You need familiarity with all these areas and how they work together,” asserts Busby, “But you don’t need to be an expert in everything to succeed.”

What to be good at

The field has matured far beyond platform identification, buying keywords, and coding. Here are five skills identified by these pros:

Who you should be

There’s not a traditional path to an e-commerce career. Busby is an art historian by training so, as mentioned in last month’s piece on the wave of new customers, he brings a fresh visual perspective with the end user in mind to the digital shelf. Wemple has a long-time category experience in beverages, as well as broader CPG consulting. King started in tech, creating multimedia software for training; early on, she became attuned to designing customer-focused experiences.  These are a several of the successful behaviors highlighted:

It’s a great time to get into e-commerce, confirms these three professionals in different ways.  “The bar has been raised in creating great experiences, and that’s a great time to go into an industry,” says King. 

The bottom line is the breadth and the depth needed. The field continues to grow with deeper specialty and become more influential in a company’s balance sheet. “The goal is not to be an e-commerce marketer,” adds Wemple. “You’ve got to be a world-class marketer.”

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