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On Thursday, 9th November 2023, Adrian Ramani held an event with Ecommerce Leaders disc...
On Thursday, 9th November 2023, Adrian Ramani held an event with Ecommerce Leaders discussing how they can transition into a consulting role.
In recent years, we've seen an unprecedented growth in Ecom Consultants. With many brands lacking expertise in-house, there is a greater demand for consultant services. To support more Ecommerce Directors in taking the same route, attendees heard from established consultants:
Each of our speakers have taken different career paths to reach this level, providing unique perspectives on each topic. Together, they discussed:
Read on for the key takeaways from their conversation.
Adrian kicked the conversation off with asking for our panellists’ definition of an Ecommerce Consultant.
Consultants are often brought into businesses with smaller teams to support on a range of activities. These could range from delivering ecommerce strategies to executing marketing activities.
“The best transformational projects are the ones you’re the most uncomfortable in."
Your main responsibility, however, is to be the transformational expert. It's important to understand that Ecommerce Consultants are engaged to bring about change, not to continue executing the previous strategy. As a result, Chris shared the importance of being comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Adrian also asked our speakers to share the top qualities and skills they believe Ecommerce Consultants should bring. These included:
Our speakers shared that 90% of the time, what you’re asked to do initially isn’t what the company actually needs. As a result, the discovery period is crucial to uncovering the problem they face and its source. Each of the above skills are crucial to that discovery stage.
“A digital background is invaluable."
A strong background in digital is arguably the most important. Often, the problem ecommerce businesses face, doesn’t lie within ecommerce. Issues can also be rooted back to marketing, product, operations, brand, so it’s key to have a strong knowledge of the entire ecosystem.
This experience gives an understanding of the common challenges faced by companies and allows you to ask the right questions to best support business growth.
Adrian asked our panellists why they chose to become an Ecommerce Consultant and what attracted them to the role. As each have different career paths, they had a unique perspective to share.
Chris shared how he found that he had hit a ceiling as a Head of Ecommerce. His responsibilities were sometimes crossing over into CMO, CTO and COO territories without having the job titles. As a result, he felt that he could have a bigger impact on organisations as a consultant in the long-term.
On the other hand, Zoe hadn’t planned to make the move. At an uncertain moment in her career, the opportunity to consult for a circularity start-up. This was an area that Zoe and her business partner were extremely interested in, so felt like the right move at the right time.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth had a very different start in consulting, becoming a Senior Consultant as a young graduate. It was the consulting role that first attracted Elizabeth, and she found herself joining a retail consulting firm. She was then able to leverage these agency skills to become a solo consultant.
To sell your Ecommerce Consultant services, it can be useful to define your offering early on. For our panellists, this largely came from their career backgrounds, specialising in the industries that they knew best.
For example, Elizabeth had focussed on luxury fashion consulting from early on in her career. As a result, this has continued to be her niche moving forwards.
She has also found the same trend in terms of business size, working with smaller organisations throughout her career. While this has been quite organic and natural due to her experience, it is also her preference.
Your offering and sell may differ depending on whether you’re a solo consultant or joining/starting an agency.
For instance, Chris has worked as a solo consultant as well as grown his agency. As the former, Chris would often perform the role of an Interim Chief Marketing Officer or a Non-Executive Director. In these roles, he focused on solution-based delivery.
Now, having started his agency, they mainly work as an ecommerce function for a business where they fully integrate, run and grow ecommerce. They work as a growth function, working holistically across every channel.
Zoe’s focus as a consultant is on supporting businesses with their ESG efforts – a subject that she is deeply passionate about. As this is a growing area of focus for many retail businesses, Zoe has found herself in high demand, working mostly from referrals.
While not part of a wider agency, Zoe does have a partner in her consulting. This works well as they each specialise in different areas and can deliver a breadth of support for their clients.
The majority of work for each of our speakers seems to derive from referrals, having built up a strong reputation in their full-time leadership and/or consulting roles. However, there are other ways to engage clients, too.
Chris has taken the following steps to continue growing his agency and win work:
Each step has contributed to growing his award-winning agency.
A big thank you to Zoe, Chris and Elizabeth for sharing your time and knowledge with us. It was a really useful and productive session for those Ecommerce Leaders interested in becoming a consultant.
If you missed out, but would like to join us next time, be sure to register your interest in future events below.
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