Insight: Ecommerce Directors, what's the next step in your career?

4 minutes

On Thursday, 27th April 2023, we held our first event for our e-commerce community. We welco...

On Thursday, 27th April 2023, we held our first event for our e-commerce community. We welcomed E-commerce Directors from a range of organisations to understand how they can develop and progress in their careers from those who have been there and done it themselves.

Led by our specialist E-commerce Recruitment Partner, Adrian Ramani, our expert panel was comprised of: 

Rob Worthington, Customer Director at Anthropologie 

Rob's career spans an incredible 25 years of experience in e-commerce, multichannel, retail, direct marketing and branding. Ex-Multichannel Director at Office Shoes, his industry experience covers retail, media and publishing. 

Julie Austin, Chief Digital Officer at Everymile

Julie has an amazing 20 years of experience leading e-commerce, retail and marketing teams at many of the high street's biggest names - from Next to Bravissimo. Currently the CDO for Everymile Agency, Julie's philosophy is to make marketing as people centric as possible, turning transactions through outstanding experience to brand loyalty.

Martin Francis, Global Digital GM at FitFlop

Martin is a strategic and senior digital leader for many retailers and brands. He has held some impressive roles across the industry, from Trading Director at House of Frasers to Global GM for FitFlop. A true digital and transformational leader, Martin is now consulting.

Together, they discussed a wide range of topics prevalent to E-commerce Directors, including: 

  • What career path should an E-commerce Director take next? 
  • Does job title matter in e-commerce? 
  • How broad should your e-commerce job be? 

What career path should an E-commerce Director take next?

Career paths for E-commerce Directors are never straightforward. This fact is what brought us all together in the first place. 

E-commerce Directors are often referred to as a “jack of all trades” as they’re responsible for a wide range of channels. The job can mean something completely different depending on the company and the individual. As a result, Martin Francis shared his view that the title should become obsolete and Customer Director or Chief Customer Officer is where employers, employees and recruiters should be guiding their businesses towards.   

“I’m hoping that the title of E-commerce Director will become defunct.” 

The Chief Customer Officer role encompasses all of the channels that E-commerce Directors are responsible for – digital, e-commerce, marketplace, retail (bricks and mortar), and wholesale – whilst also positioning the customer as the focus of the role. Essentially, the job title brings together all of these functions underneath a customer-facing head. 

The theme of the customer was a focus of this discussion and our prior event for marketers, "How to transition from Chief Marketing Officer to Non-Executive Director". The overwhelming response is that companies are becoming increasingly customer-focused and, in order to future-proof your career, you should think about how your role helps to prioritise the customer. 

Does job title matter in e-commerce? 

The topic of job titles has been particularly prevalent in the e-commerce world recently, as many E-commerce Directors’ jobs encompass wider remits than online selling. It's confusing for businesses, e-commerce talent and even e-commerce recruiters.  

To an extent, your job title defines who you are. It's how internal and external people find you and define what you do. Rob Worthington experienced this first-hand when his job title was changed from E-commerce Director to Multichannel Director.

As his remit expanded, “E-commerce” no longer represented the work that he was doing on a daily basis. Rob was now responsible for developing in-store ordering, click and collect and loyalty programs that encompassed both online and in-store transactions. Thus, “Multichannel” felt more relevant to the job that he was undertaking. 

Our e-commerce recruitment consultants have seen similar job title changes happening across the industry. This certainly isn't unusual within e-commerce jobs.

How broad should your e-commerce job be? 

With so many e-commerce teams taking on broader responsibilities, there is an increasing confusion around the role of e-commerce within a business. So, we asked our panelists for their thoughts on broadening your remit as an E-commerce Director. 

Martin and Rob highlighted that broadening their horizons and taking ownership of new things was how they broke into e-commerce in the first place. Their careers are largely built on actively pursuing new channels and directions. 

This has been supported by Adrian's LinkedIn network, where 46% of participants said that more responsibility will benefit your e-commerce career.

On the other hand, Julie Austin shared an alternative perspective, advising E-commerce Directors to "choose your own adventure". Broadening your role and taking ownership of more channels will make you a generalist in a world where experts are in increasingly high demand. 

“There’s something to be said by a real expert in their field at director level.” 

If you want to get up to C-level, however, breadth does matter. Instead of taking ownership of a wide range of areas, Julie recommended having awareness of and opinions on each area of your company. Whether you own the areas or not, having an opinion on them matters. This will definitely reduce barriers to progress your career to C-suite. 

Continuing the conversation

A big thank you to all of our expert panelists for their contributions to this conversation. We hope that this event was beneficial for all involved and that E-commerce Directors feel more confident in where they can take their careers next. 

With so many excellent questions from attendees, we’re planning on continuing this conversation. Keep an eye on our website and LinkedIn page for more coming soon, or register your interest below and we will be in touch as soon as our next event is in the works...

Searching for more support in developing your e-commerce career? We can help. 

If you’re looking for more personalised advice on how to progress your e-commerce career, be sure to get in touch with our specialist e-commerce recruitment team. Adrian Ramani specialises in recruiting for e-commerce jobs across the UK, whilst Patrick Murray has a focus on Amazon and marketplace jobs. Not sure where to take your career next? Our team can help you. 

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