The Future Of Retail: Ryerson Grad Enters A Career In eCommerce


Gone are the days when buying a computer meant a visit to your local brick-and-mortar office supplies or electronics store.

With a few mouse clicks, you can now have your entire office – appliances, furniture and all – delivered straight to your doorstep.

For John Panighel, it’s all in a day’s work.

The eCommerce revolution has been a life-changing development for John, both personally and professionally.

He graduated in 2011 from Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Retail Management with a Bachelor of Commerce and a minor in eBusiness, but says his fascination with several aspects of the industry started much earlier than that.

Now holding the title of Digital Merchandising Specialist, John says he’s always loved studying and analyzing data about customer purchasing and website navigation, but that this love “came to be more of a passion” when he landed his first job with another retailer during the eCommerce boom years.

Three months ago, John was finally given the chance to cultivate his enthusiasm for the industry when an office supplies retailer recruited him for the role he currently holds.

“eCommerce isn’t just a trend. It’s a shift that’s happening in retail,” John says. “I believe that in the next 20 years or less, the total dollars earned from online retailing will surpass that of physical retail outlets.”

His advice for students and new grads looking towards a career in eCommerce? Approach the industry with the curiosity and hunger, and never stop learning.

John Panighel

What are your responsibilities as a Digital Merchandising Specialist? What is a typical day like?

John: My job entails a lot of different aspects of digital retailing. A typical day for me involves looking at data pertaining to how our target consumer is interacting on our site and adjusting to any patterns s/he forms.

I also look at our sales figures to see if there are any trends.

Once a week, I meet with the different buying teams to review sales data and to inquire if they have any particular items they’d like to focus on for the assortment of products coming up.

What have you learned from the job in the past three months?

John: The office supplies business is very competitive and it’s important to know how your consumer shops.

I really like studying analytics about how a consumer is interacting on a website and make the necessary adjustments to better suit their shopping needs, so I’m enjoying that aspect of it.

How is your work-life balance?

John: My work-life balance is fine since it’s a regular 9-to-5 job. But if I have something I need to finish or prepare for, I will come in early or stay late. It really depends on how your day unfolds.

What do you like best about the job?

John: I like the consumer shopping and site navigation analytics the best. I love learning about new consumer types and reacting to their shopping behaviours. Making it easy for your consumer to find and purchase what they are looking for is the most important aspect of any retail website.

What would be your advice to new grads hoping to follow an eCommerce management career path, especially in retail?

John: eCommerce and digital channels for retailing are always evolving, so constantly reading or studying new shifts in the market is pivotal to success in the industry.

I personally enjoy being in the new and innovative part of retail, which is why I chose to study and work in e-commerce. My passion for learning about new trends and shifts in the market helped propel my career in the industry.

Retail Week featuring jobs from Loblaws, Reitmans, Target, Starbucks, Rexall and TJX Canada / Winners Merchants International

Photo credit: Hegemony77

About the author

Jeleen Yu is a long-time TalentEgg contributor and former assistant editor. She graduated from Ateneo de Manila University (Philippines) in 2007 with a degree in business management. She was all set to start a career in the corporate world, but a sabbatical made her realize that her real passion lay in writing and the publishing industry. After serving as a writer and editor for the newsletter of a non-profit organization in the Philippines, she now resides in Vancouver and is currently working towards an editing certificate at Simon Fraser University.