I first published this post back in 2010 because I had several clients ask who (what role) typically owns eCommerce, what organization they report to and what some of their key responsibilities are. Eight years later, much of the original post still holds true, but I’ve updated it with a few things that have changed.
Most notably, the terms and associated titles/roles for “Digital” and “Omni-channel” have emerged to take a more holistic view of the entire customer experience vs. only focusing on the online or eCommerce channel.
Additionally, the tools and technologies used across the digital landscape have matured greatly (e.g., marketing automation, analytics, customer data platform (CDP), session stitching, etc.) and the overall expectations of the customer have increased significantly and now go beyond the web to mobile and an overall, Omni-channel seamless experience. The leader of that organization has to be very savvy at picking and using the right tools to optimize the customer experience and drive revenue.
original 2010 post:
Today’s blog is meant to address this at a high level – whether or not this is right for your organization is based on factors such as the organizational structure of your organization, maturity / sophistication of IT and other departments, the overall size of your company and the percentage of your overall business that comes from eCommerce.
Let’s start with what role is typically responsible for eCommerce. This role is typically a senior director or VP level at most organizations, often having some type of P&L responsibility for the online channel. I’ve seen this role live within the marketing department, the IT department or if your eCommerce channel is large enough – a dedicated eCommerce group / department.
In companies that offer multiple channels (e.g., eCommerce, catalog, brick-and-mortar, etc.) the eCommerce leader must be very savvy in working with the leaders of the other business units. The website / eCommerce system must often represent the interests of the other business units – while also driving online sales. This can be a real challenge.
Here are some of the most relevant phrases / responsibilities for the eCommerce leader’s job description:
The Director of eCommerce is responsible for collaborating with cross-functional partners to manage all aspects of the eCommerce business including, business planning, content strategy and development, promotional campaigns and other online marketing, website design, customer service, web analytics and web technologies
Serve as a liaison and primary point of contact within the eCommerce organization for cross functional partners acting as a project manager to evaluate, prioritize, develop, manage, implement and test eCommerce initiatives
Participate in the development and execution of strategic and tactical business plans with other members of the cross functional team supporting the eCommerce strategy
Manage the user experience of the website including site navigation, content development, checkout funnel and promotional campaigns
Develop and oversee the effective planning, QA and execution of content across the websites and online marketing campaigns to ensure efficiency, accuracy and timeliness of all web content publishing
Manage all aspects of web analytics related to eCommerce and communicate relevant information to team members, executive leadership and cross-functional partners
Partner with key cross-functional teams to ensure all relevant organizational goals and implications are factored into eCommerce projects
Build and direct a cohesive team of internal and external personnel to effectively develop eCommerce solutions
Proven leadership of large eCommerce projects
Experience with B2C or B2B eCommerce depending on your focus
Extensive knowledge of e-commerce technology and sophisticated analytics
Generate and implement new sales and marketing initiatives to increase eCommerce sales and profitability
Provide expertise on current eCommerce industry best practices. Consult on cross-functional projects to ensure eCommerce principles are incorporated
Identify new areas of eCommerce opportunity beyond current organizational thinking
Outstanding analytical skills, strong experience interpreting test results & drawing conclusions
Demonstrated strong business judgment and decision-making skills; ability to identify, prioritize, and articulate highest impact initiatives
The most important thing is that you have AN owner of eCommerce. That is more important than which organization it resides in and exactly what the job title / description looks like. The best eCommerce leaders I have worked with are business minded, but technically savvy.