Retail Week: Your Guide To Landing A Job In E-commerce


Over the past decade, e-commerce firms have taken the market by storm.

2017 is set to be the year of e-commerce, with internet sales accounting for an estimated 15.5% of consumer expenditure as a whole, up from just 3% at the end of 2006. While this information hardly seems surprising, the growth of companies such as Amazon and ASOS embody the progress that has taken place within the marketplace.

So what is ecommerce, exactly? At the core, the term refers to commercial transactions conducted electronically via the Internet. The increased accessibility of internet access and the advent of popular online sellers in the 1990s and early 2000s allowed e-commerce to grow into the giant that it is today.

Having evolved from being a mere fad, e-commerce has now become a favourite shopping option for many consumers. With experts predicting that online sales could represent a third of all consumer spending within the next decade, the growth of this exciting field is showing no signs of slowing down. In turn, this means more job opportunities for students and graduates! Since pursuing a career in any emerging field can sometimes seem intimidating, we’ve put together a short guide to landing a job in e-commerce.

Think Towards The Future

At one time or another, you have definitely heard someone tell you that “the future is now,” which isn’t true, at least not in terms of your employment. The future is definitely later, but not much later. “Later” is where your career is hiding, so you should do everything in power to understand the developments and progress of your field. To gauge where you fit into the vast world of online commerce, you have to asses where the technology is showing signs of slowing down, and by contrast, in which areas it is growing.

The total market for e-commerce today is huge – it’s a 1 trillion dollar industry, and considering recent innovations, that number is predicted to grow at 17% each year. This is only the beginning! There are immense growth opportunities left in emerging markets such as mobile app development, social media, marketing and traditional web development.

One of the notably significant areas of development in the sector today is security, as consumers are submitting more and more personal information over the internet. Don’t start your career search before educating yourself on the technologies that are taking over this second and boast new job opportunities. Mobile commerce is just a few years old and is already capturing 20% of e-commerce sales. E-commerce is only going to grow as tablets and smartphones sweep the world in the next 10 years.

Think Practically

Most companies that are in any business in sales have created an online platform at this point and have evolved from being a mere web presence to a place where they conduct large chunks of business. There are also millions of exclusive online retailers in the market to compete with. With so many options how can you utilize e-commerce to start your career?

Maybe you’d want to raise money for charity, or turn a hobby into an extra source of income. Maybe you’d want to help an existing company spread their brand and product – or develop your own. Being smart at e-commerce is something practical and relevant that can last a lifetime, considering you can do so much with the medium. With e-commerce, there are a wide range of IT skills that would be useful to have, but the core skills to create an e-commerce platform include experience with programming, business analysis, servers, network management, desktops, applications and product support. As well as technical skills, a willingness to learn is essential since the internet changes so rapidly.

If you don’t currently possess any IT skills, not to worry! It may be easier to start off in a smaller scale e-commerce organization like Etsy or look out for other entry-level opportunities in larger companies. Alternatively, you can take the technology consulting route, for example. In this role, advising clients on their web technology and strategy is a part of your work. There are plenty of other careers in e-commerce that don’t require IT skills because they mimic the structure of in-store retail, so you could work as a buyer or designer. Alternately, positions in product development, marketing, product management on online platforms could be more your style!

Most Importantly, Think Big!

Whether or not you decide to turn e-commerce into your long term career, starting out in the sector will give you skills and experience that will continue to be an asset to any organization for the next 10 years. In addition to hard business skills, an early career in e-commerce can hone your soft skills, such as in communications and customer relations. E-commerce encourages development in these areas because it considers the world from the consumer’s point of view. It’s one of the many reasons why the industry is booming. If you weren’t already considering a job in e-commerce, think again!