Rob, discusses the ever-evolving world of ecommerce, specifically how new customer demands are shaping the structure of ecommerce teams. Rob looks at the new titles and departments that are starting to fall within the traditional ecommerce function.

Please find a transcription of Rob's video below:

The main change I'm seeing is multi-channel teams are moving in a potentially different direction. A lot of retail directors, or the people who head up the retail side of businesses with both a store and online presence, are becoming multi-channel directors. We’re seeing this with a couple of our clients and I find it really interesting because it's a huge role with an enormous amount of responsibility, if 'multi-channel director' means their remit is to look after retail and all the logistical elements of that, as well as in-store and online.  It makes a lot of sense of course, having retail and online stitched together in a non-siloed way, but it's a very interesting trend that puts a lot of responsibility in one role. Really it just leaves a few things on the outside, such as warehousing and finance. 

Another trend that I'm seeing can be demonstrated through House of Fraser's model. Andy Harding recently spoke at the Demandware XChange conference - Andy used to be their Multi-Channel director but he’s now their Chief Customer Officer. He sits at board level and isn't necessarily responsible for a large multi-channel team any more because a lot of that team have now cross-fertilised back into the business. So, the online merchandisers work with merchandisers, same with the buyers and the marketing teams are now just marketing teams across all channels.  What they have now is a much smaller, customer-centric team that looks after the customers' needs. I believe this is the next step. There is a definite movement from giant multi-channel teams, to pushing everything back into their own appropriate discipline - the role they had before online came along.   

So, we’ve gone down this trajectory of online appearing and being its own small department. Then online got bigger and bigger and it started  having more remit across the business, growing again and then all of a sudden it's too big. So the solution is it spreads back through the business. It makes a lot of sense; why wouldn’t an online merchandiser work next to a 'normal' merchandiser? Why wouldn’t the people doing the visual merchandising on the site work next to those doing it in-store? Yes they’re slightly different disciplines but really those roles working together makes a lot more sense than working in siloed separate departments.

What underpins all of this is the customer journey and what works best for the customer.  If you are truly customer-centric, then this model works. You can focus on the customer and being there for the customer, making sure the different parts of the business are working towards that goal instead of having two sets of people looking after potentially very similar things.

So that’s a very brief look into what I'm seeing happen within ecommerce teams and structures within retailers in general. It would be interesting to get your feedback and hear what’s happening within your teams. One thing is for sure though, over the next two or three years you’ll see some seismic sifts inside these roles, especially at director-level. So, what are you going to do? Where do you want to focus within your career and within your business? How should your department be structured to take best advantage of what’s coming up and what the right focus should be on the customer?