The importance of skills diversification in ecommerce excellence

Underestimating the size your team needs to be and the skills required can have catastrophic impacts that lead to staff churn, stagnation or even diminishing returns. Brendon Peters asks: Is your ecommerce team equipped to continue accelerating performance in a post-pandemic world?

The Australian ecommerce market is projected to reach AU $63.52bn in 2022, with an annual growth rate of 13.28%.
As the ecommerce pie in Australia continues to grow, the diversification of skills in ecommerce and digital teams is becoming increasingly important.
Whether you are just starting your venture, have a small ecommerce business or have a legacy brand, assessing the diversity of skills in your ecommerce team should be part of your roadmap for growth.
Underestimating the size your team needs to be and the skills required can have catastrophic impacts that lead to staff churn, stagnation or even diminishing returns. Latency of business growth can enable your competitors to poach existing or potential customers and erode your market share.
Is your ecommerce team equipped to continue accelerating performance in a post-pandemic world?

Assessing ecommerce capability

Every business will have team members who wear multiple hats. These generalists are still crucial for success, but as the company grows and consumer expectations transform, the demand for a variety of skills increases.
To assess your future needs, you should first consider:
1. How your current skillset stacks up against your channel mix
2. How these channels stack up against category benchmarks
3. How much effort is required to maintain this performance
For channels performing in line or above benchmarks, you may need to designate more resources against the workload to ensure performance as the business grows. With channels performing below benchmark standards, you may need to recruit specialist team members to ensure they don’t get left behind.
It would help to think about whether channel non-performance is an always-on problem that requires a permanent solution or whether it’s an obstacle that an agency or contractor could solve with a specialist skillset; for example, Conversion Rates can be tackled by a CRO program.

Have you identified your ecommerce business objectives?

While some ecommerce objectives may echo the overall business, your ecommerce channels should have bespoke short, mid, and long-term objectives that evolve with the market and ever-changing consumer expectations.
Clear and relevant objectives will help your business identify the skills you already have, and the skills required for growth.
While your current channel splits have likely determined your existing skillset, forecasting how your channels need to change to hit your targets is a bottom-up approach to anticipating the types of specialist skills you should recruit for.
For example, legacy brand A may have brand awareness and an existing email database that results in Organic, Direct and Email accounting for the highest share of their traffic. The ecommerce team likely has an email marketing or CRM resource. A business objective could be to grow engagement from a new audience across social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, which requires excellent digital marketing and content investment.
In contrast, new-to-market brand B may have built their brand on social media and relies on paid channels to drive traffic, employing social media and content specialists alongside an agency. Business objectives could be to build their email database, grow organic traffic, increase purchase frequency, and enhance the website experience to improve Conversion Rates. Brand B likely needs a more generalist resource like an Ecommerce Manager to help improve processes, analyse data, and effectively steer the ship.

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Critical skills for today’s ecommerce operation

Mckinsey reported that 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase when a brand offers a personalised experience , and over the last few years, personalisation has grown from offers and discounts to encompass the entire user journey. Engaging the right customer at the right moment in the right environment, is critical.
You can no longer throw money at paid media and expect conversions. Optimising the end-to-end customer experience is key for growth in today’s market.
Critical skills in a growing ecommerce operation are effective planners that can identify product gaps and forecast performance, skilled ecommerce managers that understand the onsite experience, digital marketers that understand the channel mix and who the customer is, and a solution-based agency partner that understands the individual brands’ needs.

What if I need results fast?

Agencies offer a wealth of skills and knowledge across multiple disciplines.
1. If there is an opportunity to promote internally, an agency can be used to take pressure off the teams while the roles are transitioned.
2. If you’re having difficulties recruiting, the headcount budget should be repurposed for an agency or contractor to build momentum and set the operation up for success once the full-time resource arrives.
3. High-impact work like Conversion Rate Optimisation and Email Marketing Automation will have demonstrable and often immediate return on investment. These types of projects and retainers require minimal input from internal staff once onboarding is completed. An agency partner is best placed to drive them as they can hit the ground running with already established frameworks and access to costly tools and technologies.

Brendon Peters, ecommerce director Havas Market


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