The Beginner’s Guide to Becoming an Outstanding e-Commerce Leader
March 5, 2019
Three Tips that will help you become your company’s most effective e-commerce manager, in 2019.So, you’ve just been handed the job of e-Commerce manager, or even e-commerce director, for your company’s leading brand – how can you ensure you succeed quickly in your new role?
First – like the cover to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy entreats – Don’t Panic! You may initially feel overwhelmed by your new job, but you are not alone. The position of e-Commerce Manager/Director is still relatively new in the consumer products sector, so there is no single individual who has all the answers today.
Each product category has its own nuances, online retail stores are constantly changing – much more so than bricks and mortar stores – and you will come across new competitors employing new and innovative tactics. Even if you possess all the secret wisdom necessary for now, tomorrow there will be something new to learn. That’s why I love working in e-commerce.
By far the best way to learn about e-commerce is by practicing e-commerce. So, by starting your new job, you’ve already taken the first and most important, step to becoming an awesome e-commerce leader. Here are three tips that will help you as you navigate your new role:
Tip 1. Don’t wait for perfection, get in and get your hands dirty.
If someone hired you for a position of e-commerce manager, it means you are a smart person.
Even if you are not entirely sure how to master your e-commerce business yet, I bet you have a gut feeling about where you should start. Build on it, browse through competitive products, read articles, and watch YouTube videos on the topic.
Speak to anyone who might provide insight, starting with your key account managers, and e-commerce key account managers (if your organisation has eKAMs). You must also have agency partners. Interview them. Shake things up a bit, ask other agencies with deeper e-commerce skills to pitch. Even if you decide not to use them, the pitch process will help you learn more about your brand’s e-commerce possibilities.
This groundwork should be enough to enable you to create your first e-commerce business plan. It won’t be perfect, but in the fast-moving e-commerce, arena execution is preferable to hesitation. Remember there are no all-knowing experts. As e-commerce evolves, everyone must ‘crack it’ over and over again.
Take voice as an example – commentators agree that 2019 will be a big year for voice-activated e-commerce, but do you think your competitors’ e-commerce managers are all voice search experts? I doubt they are, but if you start executing and experimenting today, you may be among the first.
Tip 2. Set-up metrics, success criteria and measurement from the start.
You may not know exactly how you are going to get there, but it’s important to know where you want to go. You’ve outlined your first tentative e-commerce plan, and you’ve even developed an e-commerce tool-kit for your e-retailers, but before you hit send make sure you’ve defined your goals, and the processes needed to measure results.
You started with your gut-feel and some hard work to create your first 80/20 plan and toolkit, but from now on, it will be a journey of constant improvement based on data. Well-defined and easily accessible metrics will be your roadmap for spotting opportunities, and setting prioritisation.
Tip 3. Embrace change.
E-Commerce moves fast. What works today may not work tomorrow. Your products change, online stores change, and competitors improve, so you and your plan need to be adaptable to stay ahead.
Assume that every e-commerce toolkit is an evolving work in progress. The day that you can say “I have fixed my e-commerce business” will never come. Even the metrics you use to measure performance will change. You must build an organisation that not only accepts change but also thrives on it.
It is remarkable how quickly a seemingly small change can make a significant impact. A few years ago many consumer goods categories didn’t see a need for video as a part of product content. It was reserved mainly for high-end or complex products such as consumer electronics. Now, with so-called “unboxing videos” we can expect to see widespread use of the medium in more categories. Was video in your plan yesterday? Should it be today?
Food for Thought
Hopefully, this article gives you some help to get started in your new role as an e-commerce manager. Remember learning e-commerce means practising e-commerce. The more you do, the better you get.
At eStoreMedia we’ve worked with hundreds of consumer goods brands across many categories, including consumer packaged goods, consumer electronics, DIY, pharmaceuticals, apparel and more. We’ve learned a lot over the years, but most importantly we know there is always more to learn from experience. But if you start with the three steps above, you’ll quickly be on the road to success.