The Retail Tech And Talent Growth Crunch

1Darren Hill WeblincFinding the right talent is currently one of the growth retail market’s biggest challenges. Once you’re over the $10 million mark in annual online revenue, things can change quickly.

You could be an owner/operator whose brand is taking off and find yourself in need of your first dedicated e-Commerce Director. Or the first person to own that role could have moved on.

Finding the talent to match your ambitions can be a challenge. And it’s a problem you can’t solve with technology.


There are e-Commerce directors with 15 years’ experience, a younger set with less than five, and a noticeable gap in between. Finding the right person is a prerequisite for achieving ambitious sales goals. If you’re looking to double your revenue, this person is critical.

If you consider the brief history of e-Commerce it’s pretty clear why we’re facing a talent crunch. Fifteen years ago, there were only a handful of retailers that had sophisticated e-Commerce operations. As a result, there are a handful of seasoned e-Commerce directors to fill the positions that exist within hundreds of retail organizations.

Beyond these veterans, there are experienced digital marketers who may be good at their jobs, but they’re not quite ready to run the shop.

Younger people who grew up digitally native know how to use tools like social media, but they don’t have an understanding of e-Commerce or retailing in general. To help get them to where they need to be, effective leadership is required. The younger set is focused on tactics, like executing a campaign, and not typically looking at the big picture. These people may look at data, but are they analyzing it? They need to move from trying things out to focusing on how to improve ROI.

But the good news is, they can learn.

Marketing is a great place to develop talent. Marketers know how to acquire customers and build a branded experience, which is critical to growing and sustaining an online business.

Take a look at the technology landscape in e-Commerce and you’ll find a similar story. In the middle, companies don’t have huge budgets. At the high end, the “big guys” have the resources to buy or even build what they need. On the low end, SMB retailers have access to fairly inexpensive tools that can get the job done. They don’t need sophisticated data analysis or merchandising capabilities to be successful and continue to grow.

Growth retailers are quite literally stuck in the middle making tough choices about where to invest in technology. They just can’t do it all. They need technology that’s complex enough to help them compete with the largest of e-Commerce giants, but easy enough to use that they don’t need a degree in development or data science.

Whenever you add or change tech, you’ll need to find talented people to manage it. Similar to the consumerization of enterprise IT tools, e-Commerce software is in the midst of a revolution. Technology providers are finally starting to put more thought into the business user’s experience. Retailers that look for the tools that are leading this charge will save themselves a lot of headaches.

Very few growth retailers can afford someone with 15 years in e-Commerce management. Likewise, they can’t afford to hire a team of developers to build a highly customized in-house platform. They need to strike the right balance between talent and tech, and stay focused on what really matters: growing revenue.


Darren Hill is Co-Founder and CEO of WebLinc, the commerce platform provider for fast-growing online retailers. In 1994, he founded WebLinc with his brother, Jason. Hill possesses nearly 20 years of e-Commerce design, development, and marketing experience.

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