Ecommerce Marketing

The demand for ecommerce specialists soared during the COVID-pandemic. As the transition to ecommerce needed to be accelerated, companies went on a hiring spree.

Many of these newly created roles are filled by classically trained marketers who have added ecommerce responsibilities to their current roles. New graduates embrace ecommerce as their first marketing job, without the brick and mortar experience many senior marketers have experienced at some point in their career.

I am an example of classically-trained marketer who shifted focus to digital marketing and ecommerce. Having spent more than a decade in a traditional marketing role, I am able to reflect on the benefits of ecommerce:

  • Results are highly quantifiable. Unlike traditional marketing, where the outcome of a particular initiative is often difficult to measure, Ecommerce produces highly quantifiable results. More importantly, ecommerce created the “revenue marketer”, who is able to directly influence and generate revenue for the company, with potentially very positive impact on personal earnings. For more on the advantages of being a revenue marketer, check out this article.
  • Ecommerce fuels marketers with customer data that was difficult and expensive to access in the past. In fact, the amount of data available today can feel overwhelming, and difficult to process. With so much data at their disposal, eCommerce Directors are able to fine-tune marketing initiatives for a personalized customer interaction.
  • The opportunity to start your own business full-time or as a side-hassle grows exponentially. Starting an online business can be quick and straight forward once you acquire the skills needed to sell online. With product sourcing and building your e-commerce eco-system becoming faster, easier and cheaper, online success is greatly dependent on how you market your brand; these are exactly the skills you will perfect in your ecommerce role. Many new brands are launched by entrepreneurs exclusively online, and gain physical distribution once they carved a solid niche in the category.
  • Ecommerce roles are not location-dependent (at least in theory). Ecommerce specialists can be as productive in a traditional office environment as logging in from a remote location with good internet connection. This reality has made ecommerce appealing to many traditional marketers and new graduates looking for better work-life balance. As a positive “side-effect”, many ecommerce teams can be assembled based on skills, rather than employee location, which allows companies to tap into the international talent pool.

What is the Role of the Ecommerce Manager?

The ecommerce Manager is responsible for generating sales via online channels. These may include the company’s own online store(s), independent online retailers, (, and online marketplaces (, Many ecommerce strategies and tactics are similar to those employed by the traditional marketing channel, with one important adaptation to the fact the customer is not able to physically interact with the product at the time of purchase.

What Skills Do Successful Ecommerce Managers Have?

Data Management and Analysis

As mentioned above, one huge benefit of ecommerce marketing is the amount of data available.

In my dual marketing role (ecommerce and brick-and-mortar), a big obstacle I have to overcome when marketing through intermediaries is the lack of end user data, which drastically limits decision-making. Marketing a brand through intermediaries does not offer a complete picture of its customer profile, why it’s being chosen, and how it’s being used. Distributors are often very reluctant to share customer information with the manufacturers, for the fear of becoming irrelevant in the supply chain.

In contrast, E-commerce offers an abundance of data, to the point where it can become overwhelming. Every tool you decide to use to market your business online provides insights that can be used to make intelligent business decisions. For this reason, collecting, analyzing and interpreting data is a critical ecommerce skill.

Data analytics allows Ecommerce Managers to make intelligent, fact-based decisions by:

  • Understanding the customer journey at granular level, which allows the personalization of marketing efforts for an enhanced brand experience.
  • Optimizing the supply chain and improving operations to increase customer satisfaction, and grow net profits.
  • Finding optimal price for products, that strikes a balance between profitability and moving inventory.
  • Launching new products, based on customer’s expressed preferences, and trends in shopping behavior.
  • Providing more accurate forecasts, by studying what worked in the past, and adjusting future initiatives for a better outcome.
  • Enhancing the customer’s interaction with the brand by proving solutions that are tailored and adjusted to her/his individual needs.


Operational excellence is a huge differentiator in ecommerce. In fact, Operations is the key department that can make or break your ecommerce channel. Operations is a broad term that includes picking, packing, shipping, and storing products for optimal and quick delivery.

One of the key benefits of in-store shopping is instant gratification: you are able to see, touch, smell, feel the product, and own it instantly. Ecommerce cannot quite match this shopping experience (yet). In order to overcome this disadvantage, product delivery is no longer an operational metric in ecommerce, but a key marketing tool used to grow the digital channel.

Depending on the size of your company, some examples of the key operational tasks that might require your input include:

  • Warehousing strategy that allows for fast, safe and cost-effective processing and delivery of online orders.
  • Stock selection, replenishment and optimization across multiple distribution points.
  • Product packaging to ensure it is delivered undamaged.
  • Software implementation that allows for optimal order processing, carrier selection, order tracking, and customer notification.
  • Carrier selection to ensure faster shipping options, such as overnight or two-day delivery are available at checkout.
  • Implementing an effective and customer-friendly system for processing returns.
  • Analyzing logistics reports that track operational performance over time.

A competent Operations department will make your ecommerce channel run smooth and profitable. Constant communication between the Ecommerce Manager and Operations is critical to ensure efficient and effective workflows.


Understanding financial concepts might not come to mind as must-have skill in ecommerce, but it should be. The ultimate goal of the e-commerce channel is to generate profit for the company. Ecommerce is no different.

The e-commerce channel can become very complex, quickly. Imagine this scenario: you might start selling on your own website, and soon expand to Amazon. As your brand becomes popular, third party online distributors are coming onboard to sell your brand on their website.

As e-commerce manager you are already exposed to three business models that are completely different. Regardless of the platform, you need to be able understand if the online business model is viable, across various platforms. There are financial metrics you can track; below are the most important:

  • Total product cost, including costs associated with manufacturing product, packaging, and shipping to the distribution centre.
  • Costs associated in listing and marketing your brand online (excluding shipping). It might look simplistic, but tracking and understanding these costs are not easy. For example, the costs associated with selling on Amazon are very complex and include: account fees, the FBA/FBM fee, long-term storage fees, disposal fees, advertising fees and so on. Typically, medium-sized companies have dedicated resources to track these costs; your task is to monitor expenses and make adjustments that will ensure the brand is profitable.
  • Shipping costs. These costs can make or break an online business. Depending on the type of product, shipping costs can account for more than 100% of its selling price, making some products unprofitable online. An item that retails for $7 and costs $5 dollars to ship, will not be profitable online. Shipping costs are also a high deterrent to online shopping. Crafting a shipping policy that is appealing to customers while remaining profitable  is the big challenge the ecommerce manager needs to tackle.
  • Online revenue-while a no-brainer, for multi-channel brands it can become a challenge to differentiate between online and offline revenue. It is important to have tracking mechanisms in place to identify each revenue stream, and the associated expenses. Otherwise it will be difficult to determine the profitability of the online channel, and decide on proper resource allocation.
  • Gross and net profit margin. “Profit” is the magic word in any business. If the online channel does not turn a profit, it will be very difficult to justify it. While the initial expenses might make ecommerce unprofitable for the first few years, the upper management has to be able to see “the light at the end of the tunnel” to keep investing in it.

Multi-Channel Management

Just like in the traditional business world, online sales growth can be achieved by growing existing channels, and finding new ones. Initially, the eCommerce channel mix typically consists of the company’s own website and popular marketplaces where products can be listed immediately, such as Amazon or eBay.

These platforms alone can offer enough growth potential and challenges to keep Ecommerce Managers busy for years.

The company own store offers full control over the ecommerce process, and better access to customers. The challenges are generating traffic that converts, and building trust in the brand.

Established marketplaces offer these benefits. The challenge is to make your brand stand out among a multitude of competitive offerings.

The Ecommerce Manager’s responsibility is to manage each of these channels, and look for additional platforms to reach new customers.  Some of the tasks include:

  • Identify the online platforms that offer a profitable business model, fit the brand image, and provide growth opportunities.
  • Create, optimize and update listings across various platforms, including descriptions, technical details, imagery and other digital assets.
  • Design and manage marketing campaigns designed to bring traffic that converts.
  • Work with third-party platforms to launch new products, improve existing listings, run promotions, implement price adjustments, and resolve customer-related issues.
  • Present new buyers with proposals that ensure assortment expansion to new platforms.
  • Analyze and monitor the key performance indicators to ensure channel profitability,  identify trends and opportunities to improve the customer experience.
  • Collaborate with designers, developers, copywriters, photographers and videographers to create a user-friendly digital experience.

I hope this article offered a glimpse into the life of an Ecommerce Manager. The role is complex, dynamic, and rewarding. Although the return to normal life has re-established the balance between ecommerce and traditional channels, the need for ecommerce specialists will continue to exist for the foreseeable future.

Photo credit: Prachatai on flickr