eCommerce Management: Defining Your eCommerce Initiative
“A quick search on a popular online job board for “eCommerce Manager” demonstrates that different companies have different ideas about just what an eCommerce manager is. Some businesses believe that eCommerce management is a marketing function, others an IT function; still others see it as a web design and development function.
None of these notions is correct.
For a company’s eCommerce initiative to succeed, a different type of manager is needed. In the past, responsibility for a company’s eCommerce site sat with the IT engineers and programmers, or with web design and development personnel. A company’s eCommerce needs today dictate that the eCommerce initiative sit with a true eCommerce manager.
An eCommerce manager is just that—a manager—involved in launching and running an eCommerce web site from a management perspective. To bring about a successful company eCommerce initiative, the eCommerce manager must be not a programmer, a marketer, or a web developer, but instead someone who is familiar with each of those functions and how to manage the personnel who provide those functions. The eCommerce manager must be familiar with the duties and responsibilities of the IT, web site production, and marketing departments, interfacing with those departments to create and promote the eCommerce side of the business.
Does that mean that the eCommerce manager must know how to perform each of those functions? No. The eCommerce manager’s job is to develop the necessary specifications to create and manage the company’s eCommerce web site, which requires an understanding of each department’s responsibilities and how that department functions in the overall initiative. The job is management, not administration: The eCommerce manager is the eCommerce evangelist for the company, acting as a diplomat to facilitate the various operations of the company to initiate and manage the eCommerce side of the business.
Good eCommerce managers have specific traits:
- They hold the company’s eCommerce vision.
- They’re skilled at forming partnerships within the company.
- They’re able to start new enterprises and recognize new online business opportunities.
- They’re well organized and can prioritize tasks.
- They understand that in eCommerce, “It’s the customer, stupid.”
- They recognize that the success of the eCommerce initiative resides in their responsiveness to customer needs and to moves by the competition.
- In other words, it all adds up to customer relationship management (CRM).”
The first question to be answered by the eCommerce manager is this: “What’s the goal of our ‘digital strategy’? Is it to sell products, services, information, or advertising?” Your company’s digital strategy depends on what your company is selling. What’s the prime purpose of the eCommerce site—content, community, or commerce? Individually or in combination, these strategies generate eCommerce revenue for all the businesses on the Internet today:
- If you’re selling content, digital or otherwise, generating revenue from the production or offering of information is the goal of your company’s digital strategy.
- If the purpose of your eCommerce site is to offer an online community experience, selling advertising to vendors wanting to reach your target audience is the goal of your digital strategy.
- If you’re selling products or services, commerce is the prime goal of your company’s digital strategy.