The e-tail market is growing - and so is the demand for skilled candidates to help organisations drive online success.

You can buy pretty much anything you're after on the internet these days...clothes from your favourite high street shop, specialist groceries, furniture and more. Retailers know that consumers want the choice of where to shop, and increasingly they're choosing to make these transactions online.
The e-commerce industry has scaled up drastically over the last decade; online sales have risen from £1.8bn in 2001 to a predicted £81bn in 2011, according to research from the IMRG. Organisations, both established retailers moving to a multichannel offering and new e-commerce start-ups, require skilled professionals and emerging new talent to support sustained growth and increase market share.

E-tail skills shortage

Given that the e-commerce market is less mature than more traditional retail channels, organisations have reported challenges in sourcing exactly the right candidates to fill their newly-created roles. "It's a difficult part of the market, there aren't significant numbers of people who've moved on to develop the full range experience and there are supply constraints," according to Nick Wharton, chief exec of UK homeware retailer Dunelm, who are developing an increasingly robust e-commerce offering in addition to their physical store presence. "The market hasn't yet had the time to evolve to equip a sufficient number of candidates with a full e-tail track record," said Graham Lucas, director of Michael Page Buying & Merchandising.

Skills in demand

"Demand for candidates with a proven track record in an established, pure-play e-tailer is incredibly high, with several organisations always vying for those available on the open market, and proactive approaches made to those secure in their e-tail jobs," added Graham. Equally, candidates with multichannel exposure are sought after by traditional retailers looking to develop their online presence.
So if you're an online buyer, merchandiser or product manager, or retail e-commerce professional looking to develop your career, there are several opportunities for growth in what's otherwise a tricky retail climate.
For those candidates whose backgrounds lie in bricks n' mortar, these skills are also required by many e-commerce start-ups. Some emerging e-tail brands have been launched by entrepreneurs with little knowledge of the retail market (Groupon for example), so they look to bring traditional retail experience on board. These new e-tail leaders may have the strategy and technical know-how, but they lack brand knowledge and don't know the best places to source, consumer behaviour, customer insight, product knowledge and more. Retail professionals with strong market knowledge are able to add value to start-ups in these areas.
Michael Page partners with a range of retailers, from established multichannel players to online start-ups, to recruit their e-commerce talent. Have a browse of all the digital jobs we're handling for them now.