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October 5, 2020

It is now, more than ever, important to build capability and invest in Digital & E-Commerce recruitment. We are.

Billy MaddockOver the last few years, I have been fortunate enough to have been involved in some major Digital Transformation projects for some huge UK brands across Retail, Hospitality, FMCG & Leisure. Throughout this time, I have met some fantastic individuals (candidates and clients) who operate at a senior level within Digital & E-Commerce recruitment.

There is no denying that the role of Digital & E-Commerce is now a critical growth channel for the majority of businesses. During the last 6 months many of us have had no choice but to shop online, consequently multiple shopper missions have shifted channels and now show a clear preference for buying online. Organisations will continue to enhance their Digital & E-Commerce capabilities, roles in these fields are here to stay and everything that has happened this year has just accelerated it.

‘Digital’ & ‘E-Commerce’ are extremely Grey terms, different organisations interpret them in different ways and some forget to use them altogether and instead choose ‘Web’ or ‘Online’ when referring to their Digital & E-Commerce activities. Why? Well the simple answer is that Digital & E-Commerce is still in many cases very much in its infancy as a business function. Whilst it has evolved and will continue to do so, there remains a lack of understanding and experience at Senior Leadership & Board level within this space.

For example, many Marketing professionals have Digital & E-Commerce teams reporting into them, but they themselves do not have the subject matter expertise now required to lead a successful Digital or E-Commerce function. Further problems arise when individuals find themselves constantly solving problems from a previous regime as opposed to evolving for the future. Digital & E-Commerce is now a huge focus for most organisations and it is important that these businesses invest heavily now or they’ll get left behind. “There is no alternative to digital transformation. Visionary companies will carve out new strategic options for themselves — those that don’t adapt, will fail.” Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

Businesses differentiate hugely in their interpretations of ‘Digital’ & ‘E-Commerce.’  This is linked to a lack of maturity in these functions versus their counterparts in HR, Marketing, Finance etc. who have been established for much longer.  E-Commerce, as the name implies, took commerce into uncharted territories – the brand new digital and online world. In layman’s terms, it is simply commerce through electronic means. Everything you buy on a website or order via email or mail-order, will fall within the realm of E-Commerce. Digital Marketing essentially has the same goals as traditional Marketing but it brought Marketing into the world of electronics (in the same way as E-Commerce did for commerce). Essentially, Digital Marketing compliments E-Commerce as it offers the best of both worlds, REACH & ROI.

The misunderstanding between the two may explain why now, in 2020, there is a real lack of talent available for specific roles within Digital & E-Commerce. Most people who begin a career in ‘Digital’ have Marketing in mind, not Sales or Trading, and therefore when ROI becomes a key performance metric, a disconnect can become very quickly apparent.

In essence, the depth of experience within Digital & E-Commerce recruitment is still limited and thus talent pools are scarce. If a company is looking to identify an individual who is both commercial and creative then they must be prepared to compete financially. High demand here is creating a real war for talent.

Now is the time to invest in Digital & E-Commerce, your customers are online so you need to be too. Investing in people and capability are critical success factors. We have an established network of great talent in these functional areas, companies just need to bottom out the skills and experience required for any specific requirement.

I absolutely love learning about Digital & E-Commerce and its continued journey, and hence my decision to join MKJ and launch a dedicated Digital & E-Commerce business function. MKJ have been a trusted recruitment partner within the FMCG industry for over 15 years. Following feedback from our customers and listening to the market we firmly believe that Digital & E-Commerce within FMCG is only going to continue to evolve and that is why now we have now decided to launch a Digital & E-Commerce recruitment division. Exciting times!