E-Commerce Is Driving Retail Employment

By Jane M. Von Bergen
The Philadelphia Inquirer

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Jobseekers in the retail industry who have a background in online sales are in demand. One job recruiter says “online” and “in-store” career tracks used to be separate but are now increasingly intertwined.


In retailing, “e-commerce is driving the bus,” said Ann Burton, founder of Wolfgang Harbor, a boutique Philadelphia-based company that recruits upper management in fashion, beauty, design, e-commerce and retailing.

When it comes to employment trends, specialty recruiters such as Burton are on the front lines of what is in demand in their sectors.

In the United States., nearly 16 million people work in retailing and, Burton said, what is developing are twin career tracks, online and in-store, that used to be separate but are now increasingly intertwined.

“The website has to drive traffic to the store,” she said, “and the store has to drive traffic to the website.”

In particular demand now, Burton said, are website merchandise managers, the online counterpart to a similar position in store divisions.

“It’s a candidate’s market,” Burton said, with compensations in the $90,000-to-$100,000 range for people with experience.

Merchandise managers, in stores and online, figure out what merchandise will be sold, how the brands will fit together, how they will be displayed and how they will be promoted. The managers take on larger areas of responsibility as they rise through the ranks.

In stores, they might decide which items would be grouped together, by designer, color, function. They might supervise store signage. They might devise the underlying “story” of the store, creating an image of high-fashion or casual chic or funky.

Online, it’s much the same, with the website telling the “story.” Plus, the online merchandise managers “have to know search-engine optimization.”

Website merchandise managers could be in line for a promotion to director of e-commerce, another job that’s in high demand and another position where there are more jobs than candidates, Burton said.

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