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E-commerce core competencies still up for debate

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Despite consistent sales growth within the sector there seems to be differing opinions in the e-commerce community as to what its core competencies are, a new report reveals.

Of 200 e-tail directors questioned, 84 per cent said that their online revenues had increased over the last year, with over 60 per cent saying that they had grown by more than 20 per cent.

E-commerce solutions provider eCommera’s latest Trading Intelligence Quarterly research highlights a divergence of priorities for online retailers however, and all 17 of the suggested competencies in the report were ranked as either core or critical by the respondents.

It seems that the 99 UK and 101 French directors of e-commerce companies, view all areas of their business as needing an equal amount of attention but this is likely to change as the market develops past its initial stages.

Michael Ross, Director of eCommera, 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.

“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 e-commerce 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.”

Technical operations currently just edge other areas as the most important to retailers, with website design and site development rated as the highest priority by 53 per cent and 51 per cent of respondents respectively.

High growth e-tailers tend to favour analytical and technology skills as a core competency, with both prioritised by 44 per cent of these respondents.

The big shift in the future for many of the firms surveyed is likely to be more outsourcing, with 46 per cent currently managing their own technology, 47 per cent their customer service and 47 per cent also taking full control of product development.

Technology is planned to be outsourced by 42 per cent of e-commerce directors within two years’ time and only website design will be more internally controlled, with 36 per cent planning to move it in-house.

Ross continued: “The journey to becoming a high growth e-commerce 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.”

Published on Wednesday 13 April by Editorial Assistant

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