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Online retailers unsure when it comes to skills

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The complexity of ecommerce is challenging online retailers, uncertain about the best way to resource their businesses.

eCommera’s latest Trading Intelligence Quarterly found that most (84%) of the 99 UK and 101 French ecommerce directors it quizzed were enjoying a rise in online revenue. More than 60% were seeing growth of more than 20%, and only 4% saw a decrease.

However providing the right resources and staffing levels was proving tricky for retailers, who ranked almost all of the 17 skills suggested in the survey as core or critical.

Technology functions edged ahead in terms of priority, with 53% saying website design and 51% citing site development as their highest-rated competencies.

Some 44% of high-growth retailers believed analytical and technology skills were equally important. These businesses tended to rate customer experience, product and marketing skills more highly than lower growth ones.

Lower growth companies generally had less regard for all of these areas, while mid-tier companies tended to overemphasise technology skills, the research found.

UK ecommerce directors were more likely than their French counterparts to rate the management of technology infrastructure (44% vs 35%) and marketing performance (44% vs 34%). French retailers place a greater emphasis on technology development and infrastructure than those in the UK.

Michael Ross, director, eCommera, (pictured) said: “The findings are indicative of an industry sector which is challenged by the breadth of the agenda and is still experimenting with how best to resource the activities.”

He added: “The findings are indicative of the early stages of a major shift within the industry. The way in which functions are perceived today and how they are being managed today is destined for change. As the ecommerce industry matures, retailers are slowly moving their focus away from mechanical enablers to those skills that drive real differentiation in the increasingly competitive online marketplace.

“The journey to becoming a high-growth ecommerce company requires a transition from the technicalities of operating the online store, to a conscious focus on the measurement and analysis of all the online activities. Understanding what drives conversion is imperative as is being able to use those metrics to improve operational effectiveness.”

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