Read This if You Are an Aspiring Ecommerce Professional

Ecommerce Professionals Are a Strange New Breed

Ecommerce Professional
••• Ecommerce Professional. Floresco Productions / OJO Images / Getty Images

I often make reference to the "astute" or "successful" ecommerce professional. Interestingly, I never found it necessary to define the characteristics of a successful ecommerce professional. Today, while addressing a small round-table, one of the participants told me that she was a regular reader of my articles, but she had a grouse. Being an ecommerce professional herself, she would often wonder when she would measure up to the picture I had of a successful ecommerce professional.

So, this article is dedicated to her and others who wonder what it takes to be a cutting-edge professional in the ecommerce industry. Here are some of the important characteristics that could foretell success as an ecommerce professional.

A Perspective on Technology

Even people who are credited with defining and creating some of the most advanced technologies have at some point or another displayed acute myopia about their understanding about the march of technology. Others have been unrealistically exuberant about some specific technological breakthrough that eventually did not see the light of day.

Such mistakes are perfectly ok and expected in a technology-driven industry such as ecommerce. But an ecommerce professional should have an intuitive understanding of technology. This intuition is not gained genetically. Instead, the professional has to develop it painstakingly by learning about the history of technology, failures and setbacks, current development, and trends.

This means that the veritable ecommerce professional spends time reading about the latest, and also attends industry events that help shape an intuitive understanding of technology.

An Understanding of the Customer's Purchase Process

An ecommerce professional needs to be a marketer at heart. And I am not talking about someone with a lot of tactical experience in marketing.

Instead, I am talking about someone who understands the basics of marketing, especially in an electronic world.

For instance, the professional must have a perspective on:

  • What triggers a purchase?
  • What are the tools and methods the customer uses to research a sale?
  • What is the gap in competitor's offering that can be addressed?

Open Mindedness About Industry Trends

It would be arrogant to think that anyone can predict the direction ecommerce will take. Of course, we all have our views. For instance, I was nearly exact in my prediction of how much sales will be generated on Cyber Monday 2011. But I was far from correct in my prediction of the level of adoption of ecommerce.

The key question here is: does the ecommerce professional have an open mind about emerging trends. Such open-mindedness is critical to be able to change course midstream if one's expectations seem to have turned out incorrect.

In addition, when new technologies such as Clickstream data and behavioral targeting offer new opportunities, the professional should be able to rapidly understand and adopt these technologies.

A Successful Fundraiser

In a large ecommerce business, there are specialists for each function. But given that the survival of smaller ecommerce businesses ends up requiring a regular dose of investment, professionals in these smaller establishments find themselves facing prospective investors far more often than they would initially imagine.

In such situations, the professional should be predisposed to talk the language that investors understand.

Respect for the Backend

It is a common rookie mistake to focus entirely on the front end: the images, branding, visuals, product descriptions, and the like. No doubt those elements are critical. But equally critical is the back end, which include ​logistics, reverse logistics, locating suppliers, evaluating suppliers, hosting, authentication, and the like.

An Eternal Learner

This is not really a separate point on this list of characteristics of a successful ecommerce professional. Instead, it is the basis of all the other characteristics listed so far. To survive in a rapidly changing environment, you need to learn and adapt.

Some Common Sense Economics

While ecommerce businesses continue to fight the scourge of profitlessness, they know this is an unsustainable position.

An astute ecommerce professional should bring in a sense of common sense economics in all their decision making.