What Makes a Great eCommerce Manager?

This article was written by Antal Managing Partner Peter Wharton. Find out more about Peter Wharton and the Geneva, Switzerland office here.

One of the roles I am seeing currently in high demand across all industries is e-commerce management, particularly since the COVID 19 crisis has increased focus on driving on-line business for both B2C and B2B markets away from traditional channels. 

Managing a vast array of responsibilities

It’s a complex, high pressure role and the long list responsibilities will usually include:

  • Managing day-to-day online store operations
  • Optimising sales performance 
  • Forecasting and managing inventory
  • Defining pricing and promotions
  • Managing payment transactions and mitigating fraud
  • Driving continuous development and improvement of online technologies 
  • Manage internal teams or multiple suppliers 
  • And depending on the size of the company, the e-commerce manager may well be responsible for all digital activities and online partner and channel programs too.

So what makes a great e-commerce manager?

  • Strong understanding of digital technology
  • Marketing experience
  • Good communication skills
  • Must be very analytical
  • Strong negotiator
  • Very keen attention to detail
  • Outstanding organisational and management skills with great business sense

Identifying the right competences for your company

When you look to recruit an e-commerce manager, the best candidate will depend on the size your company, the resources in house and externally.

For a company in start-up or scale up mode you will probably have budget to recruit just one person who does everything, which may also include managing the website so you will need a manager with very broad experience and the ability to negotiate with and manager a wide variety of suppliers, while being ready to roll up their sleeves and execute as many tasks as possible. Experience in your particular industry is probably not so important as experience in setting up e-commerce sites. The ability to write content, have a good eye for design, understand how to maximise SEO and strong organisational skills will be key.

If you are recruiting for a mid-size company your goal for the hire will probably be to improve online sales performance and scale up the business dramatically so a detailed knowledge of the very latest digital technology and marketing techniques will be crucial. There will no doubt be in-house resources as well as external services to manage so proven management skills will be essential as will an aptitude for change management. Similar industry knowledge will also be important as marketing to customers groups will be specific for your market.

When hiring this role for major corporations, the pressure and ability to manage C-level relations will be essential. The need to work with senior management will be important as the visibility and scrutiny of the online store will bring a lot of internal as well as external pressure.  Tight management of the budgets and focus on return on investment will be constantly under heavy scrutiny constantly so an excellent business knowledge will be key. Whatever the size of the business, recruiting the right candidate is crucial. Once they start, it will take a few months to see how successful they are so defining the job description, aligning it with the company objectives and knowing what the necessary skills sets are is critical.

Peter Wharton is Managing Partner of Antal International Geneva and specialises in search and recruitment in two key areas – eCommerce and digital marketing roles cross industry and exec management, sales, product management and marketing for international software tech companies. Prior to starting his headhunting business Peter was a senior international marketing and sales executive in the tech industry.