The Retail Merchant’s Guide to Hiring an eCommerce Manager – Part 2

This post is the continuation of my series on hiring an eCommerce Manager, for the first part of my guide click here.

You don’t sell a product or its many great features that you think your consumers want you to go on and on about. You sell a solution to a problem – you do something that makes someone else’s life better or easier.

It’s the same logic you should apply to hiring an eCommerce Manager. In part one of this article, I talked about how finding a great eCommerce manager can be difficult, especially since the demand is so high.

If you want to find the right person for your team, you need to focus not just on the skills someone brings but the gaps they fill – the problems they solve in your organization.

Let’s take a look at the traits you’d look for in an eCommerce Manager if you were a business who is trying to create a new eCommerce division.

Scenario B: Existing Business Creating an eCommerce Division

For these merchants, I really recommend getting someone who is 75% hustle and 25% leader. I don’t like seeing this kind of merchant hire super experienced people because those people usually want to manage teams of “do’ers” under them rather than get into the weeds themselves.

The same rules for finding people from marketing or product management backgrounds apply to this type of merchant. You can still look for the person who best fills gaps in your current team, even if that team is just you the entrepreneur (also known as your business’s accountant, sales rep, webmaster, email marketer, customer service guru…the list goes on. We wear lots of hats, especially as we’re growing)

Choose a Tech Background

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For this type of business, I’d choose someone with a strong technology background, rather than a marketing or some other background.

My reason for this is simple: Most retailers, brands and wholesalers who have existing businesses are probably pretty strong in product knowledge for their industry and probably somewhat competent in marketing so they have some history to lean on when launching digital.

So really, these merchants need to bring someone in who will quickly make sense of the company’s existing (legacy) systems and make sound roadmap-driven decisions on what new people, technology and processes are needed to bring the business into the digital age.

I have actually seen some merchants do very well by hiring former software engineers with a strong set of soft skills – and they’ll be pros at building the right technology stack for your business.

If you happen to be the kind of merchant who is really strong in technology and is process-heavy, then maybe someone with a digital marketing background is a better fit. However, in all my years in this industry, I haven’t met too many merchants that can lay claim to being very strong in tech.

At this point, you might be asking yourself, why would I focus on technology when many platforms are getting easier to implement and use (i.e. Shopify is crazy easy to set up)?

Since you aren’t a technology-first business, let me try and answer that question so that you can see why hiring someone with a strong tech background is important.

The Democratization of Technology

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While I do agree that technology is democratizing very quickly, this same democratization is leading to a large degree of fragmentation in the landscape. This ultimately means that while the individual component technologies are getting easier and easier to implement and use, the sheer quantity of the components is making things more complex.

As you set out to build your eCommerce division, you likely have the further complication of legacy technology, which, to put it bluntly, is debt weighing down your organization.

In other words, you want someone with a strong technology background because you aren’t starting from scratch with brand new people, technology and processes. You have an existing business that your eCommerce division needs to sit on top of and work with/within. I can’t emphasize how difficult this really is.

[tweet_box design=”default” float=”none”]You want someone with a strong technology background because you aren’t starting from scratch with brand new people, technology and processes.[/tweet_box]

Hiring an eCommerce Manager in Summary

The bad news (kind of): You likely aren’t going to find a really experienced eCommerce leader that will have the perfect skill set balance of technology, merchandise and marketing.

But here comes the good news: If you accept this reality, then the guidelines in this article can help you find the right person for the specific need you’re looking for, based on the particular stage you’re at in your eCommerce journey.

Have any questions about hiring an eCommerce Manager? Click here to contact us!

About Matt Bertulli

About Matthew Matthew is the Co-Founder & CEO of Demac Media, a Commerce Agency serving mid-market to enterprise merchants with online and in-store technology products. Demac Media's team of 80 consists of Commerce Strategists, UX Designers, Front End Developers, and Engineers, all with experience in guiding and delivering commerce solutions for 80 retailers in North America.

» View all posts by Matt Bertulli

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