Ecommerce skills for your digital commerce champion
As a company that aims to be the reference voice of the digital commerce industry, VTEX understands the value that an ecommerce expert team offers to the customers, the organization itself and the ecosystem. And, as a professional from this industry, a beginner candidate or just someone curious about the topic, you might naturally wonder: what is it like to be an ecommerce expert?
There are so many roles and opportunities within this market, so is there really an “ideal champion”? Yes, there actually is. And it does not depend on the knowledge of a specific technology, or on having been working for the big players of this field. Instead, it relies on developing the five fundamental skills that can turn you into an expert: mastering ecommerce operations, comprehension of market dynamics, knowledge of the technological front, understanding people and, last but not least, passion for learning.
Let’s take these ecommerce skills one by one, shall we?
1. You master an ecommerce operation
As an ecommerce expert, you comprehend every layer of the online business universe. You know that this goes far beyond buying and selling products and services through an online channel. Being present on the internet is the first step, but it is sustained by a multidimensional business architecture, which covers:
- Sales and merchandising;
- Finance and accounting;
- Supply chain and operations;
- Technology and data analysis;
- Digital marketing (including content marketing, search engine optimization and email marketing).
As an expert, you know you do not need to deeply understand every bit-byte of these matters. You can be an ecommerce professional with an IT, finance or marketing background. You must, though, develop a holistic understanding about the digital commerce universe, so, when you face a budget constraint situation, you know which marketing strategies can be helpful according to your business model, your investments metrics and the technological support you have at your disposal.
Or, when facing a sales conversion issue, you can gauge the scenario and tell whether this is due to the platform technology architecture, the customer experience or a logistic matter, and then take an action within your area of expertise or help whoever you need to.
Being an ecommerce expert means that your knowledge horizon is wide and, because of that, you are able to work in your field with much more accuracy and deliver much more value to your operation.
2. You understand the digital commerce industry dynamics
Part of your life as an ecommerce expert is dedicated to staying tuned to the dynamics and big trends within the industry. It means that you know — and, many times, you are in touch with — your main competitors: the obvious ones, the companies that have the same business models as you do, and the ones which have similar products or offer similar services.
Nevertheless, you are also constantly paying attention to the competitors that come from different industries. It is imperative to you, since doing business in the digital world is much more fluid, and the entry barriers are way less costly than in the traditional world. You can see it perfectly if you are in Sales, Marketing and Customer Experience roles: your relationship with the marketplace where you sell or showcase your products can be read as a partnership or a competition given your strategy, your products and your client preferences.
Actually, it is pretty clear to you that the online commerce business, being a direct offspring of the digital transformation phenomenon, can find its competitors and business partners on the same enterprises, since there is no “pure competitor”, nor “pure partner” along the digital value chain.
To know the market dynamics also means that you are one step ahead of the hot trends: you know the importance of being “mobile-first”, the power of social selling, what drives consumer behavior nowadays, the impact expected from live shopping strategies, and many more tendencies within ecommerce. You deep-dive into these topics not because they are nice and interesting (which they are!), but due to how they connect with your businesses, your product, your clients and your client’s consumers.
Therefore, you are someone who understands the market dynamics and, as an expert, you have the ability to adapt it accordingly to your business objectives, and take the most out of it.
3. You’re on top of the technological front
Technology is the fundamental enabler of an ecommerce business. As an expert, you know that technology per se is not enough, but without it there is no business at all.
To master the digital commerce industry, you understand the role IT plays within your company. Despite not needing to have actual technical skills, you know the areas in which you have to leverage technical dimensions and how to do it. You know that your digital operations depend on the availability of a technical architecture that is scalable, sustainable and successful given your business objectives.
You are aware that, to match your consumers’ expectations of a faster and smarter purchasing process, your product team must keep updated with the cloud-based solutions and integration functionalities that will enable a smart-checkout, for example. You are constantly concerned with the user experience matters that your platform must address in order to improve the usability dimension, since it is key to a smooth buying journey, and surely contributes to raise your consumers’ loyalty.
As an ecommerce expert, you are able to talk about the ecommerce technical dimensions using the simplest business language. You do not necessarily dive into the minimum aspects of the ecommerce platform, but certainly comprehend its key technological concepts and functionalities and get to explain them to the audience in a clean, convincing and efficient way.
4. You are a people expert, too
There is a famous quote from Simon Sinek that summarizes this soft skill:
“100% of customers are people. 100% of employees are people. If you don’t understand people, you don’t understand business.”
— Simon Sinek
As an ecommerce champion, you realize the value of listening to the people around you, no matter the role they might be playing in a specific context: whether they are your customer, your competitor, your employee, your manager, or your peer, the human behavior behind each one can tell you the path you must choose to be successful. For instance:
- You must understand consumer habits to look further into your product or service development;
- You have got to pay close attention to your employees if you are to build a better work environment, a sine-qua-non condition for a great product;
- You are continuously observing your competitors, so you can learn from them and realize how you can differentiate your business.
Since the beginning, commerce has been a voluntary exchange of goods and services between people, and, despite all the technological advances and new market conditions, there is no commerce if you do not understand who the stakeholders are, what drives their actions and what makes them keep on doing this exchange. It requires communication, context comprehension and analytics skills, but mostly a genuine will to read and connect with people.
5. You are driven by learning
Learning is your fuel. Your expertise comes from all the effort, time and patience you have been putting into your self-development throughout your journey. You have passion for learning and you consider every difficulty or novelty a chance to improve your knowledge. You understand that being an expert is not a permanent condition, but a consequence derived from a long path of studying and dealing with achievements and mistakes.
To be an ecommerce champion, you become interested in every topic, every subject that surrounds this universe: you are committed to understand business, technology, people; you want to discover what makes a trend, a tendency, and how can you position yourself one step ahead of it; you realize the importance of studying about topics indirectly related to digital commerce, because there is where the innovation comes from.
Your passion for learning is a characteristic of your curiosity, a sense of discovery and a willingness to make things happen, features that the digital world requires of the ones who aim to build their history in this place. You see a learning opportunity in every situation, whether it is a successful or a failed one, and this is what truly makes you an expert.
An ecommerce expert is a holistic professional
By the time you get here, you realize that there is no magic element, nor a single characteristic that makes an ecommerce expert. In fact, this is a consequential feature from the conjunction of lifetime skills. Describing each one separately might give the sense that you have to put in too much effort and conquer them one by one.
However, the fact is that they happen simultaneously, because they are the fundamentals of the digital realm and one calls upon the other.
To succeed in this journey of becoming an ecommerce entrepreneur (whatever that may mean to you), it would help you a lot to have an environment that provides the necessary incentives and resources, and this is what we have been building here at VTEX.