The Top 10 Ecommerce Interview Questions: What to Expect When Interviewing for a Job in Ecommerce

It’s no secret that the world of ecommerce is booming. While brick-and-mortar retail is going through challenging times due to the pandemic, some ecommerce categories are seeing a surge in sales, including food and beverage, personal care, and home fitness.

With that success comes a slew of employment opportunities in the ecommerce space. 

Whether you’re interviewing for a job in ecommerce or you’re conducting interviews for your next hire, it’s important to have a list of interview questions ready to ask and to answer. 

This is more important than ever before. 

After all, more than millions of people in the United States have filed for unemployment since the pandemic put the economy at a standstill. 

For many, lives and careers have been upended and, while change is difficult, there is endless opportunity in new fields and roles, especially within companies that have seen massive booms during the pandemic. 

Applying and interviewing for jobs in the ecommerce industry

If you are looking to get into the ecommerce industry, flexibility and knowledge of the market are two crucial traits hiring managers are looking for. You’ll need a deep, fundamental understanding of the industry, the end customer, and the channels necessary to implement both short- and long-term strategies. 

Luckily, most of us are already online consumers. Even studying your own habits or providing suggestions on how you would make the experience better — based on your own experiences — is a great way to begin in this field. Whether you’re pulling from direct experience in ecommerce or as a consumer, if you can prove your experience is valuable, a fruitful career as an ecommerce manager, marketer, or any other related role is possible.

MarketerHire uses a set of questions to pre-vet top tier marketing talent across a variety of industries including those in the ecommerce space. The freelancers on our platform work with Outer, Quip, and hundreds of other ecommerce brands, with more than 98% of them maintaining freelance contracts with those ecommerce brands for more than 3 months. 

Before your next job interview (or if you’re a hiring manager looking for interview questions), take a look at these 10 expert-prepared interview questions. 

Who are these ecommerce interview questions for?

These ecommerce interview questions are for a variety of different roles including brand marketers, content marketers, and any type of strategic role that relates to attracting and retaining customers for an online brand. 

A lot of skills earned or learned in other industries can easily transfer to one or more positions. This means you have real skills to bring to the table, and an outsider’s perspective, which can be incredibly helpful for any brand — so don’t underestimate yourself or your experience. 

Whether you are a job seeker or a hiring manager, use the guide below to help identify the right roles based on responsibilities. 

Amazon marketer

Necessary skills include:

  • Optimization and A/B Testing
  • Paid advertising
  • SEO for Amazon
  • Promotion management

Ecommerce brand marketer

Necessary skills include:

  • Brand strategy
  • Creating and managing marketing calendars
  • Analyzing customer data and insights
  • Developing content and campaigns
  • Knowing how to work cross-functionally with creatives

Chief marketing officer (CMO)

Necessary skills include:

  • Brand position
  • Lead generation and management
  • Retention and engagement
  • Research and analytics
  • Budget management 

Content marketer

Necessary skills include:

  • Copywriting
  • Journalistic-level research skills
  • Ability to collect and analyze data to tell a story
  • Project management
  • Inbound marketing expertise

Email marketer

Necessary skills include: 

  • A/B testing
  • Copywriting
  • Segmentation, automation and tool integration 
  • Customer journey expertise
  • Retention tools, analysis, and execution

Growth marketer

Necessary skills include:

  • Data analysis
  • Quantitative modeling
  • Experimental process
  • Paid media expertise
  • Funnel optimization

Paid search or paid social marketer

Necessary skills include:

  • Data analysis and trend management
  • Campaign planning and optimization
  • Retargeting
  • Research aptitude
  • Communication and collaboration skills
  • Budget management 

SEO Marketer

Necessary skills include:

  • Web analytics and analysis 
  • Research and curiosity
  • Backlinking
  • Technical SEO

Social media marketer

Necessary skills include:

  • Copywriting
  • Customer service and engagement
  • Basic design skills
  • Budgeting

Top 10 ecommerce interview questions and answers

Companies like MarketerHire pre-vet hundreds of freelance marketers for fast-growth brands. 

Over the years, the team has narrowed the questions down to a near science on what pulls through the best metrics and helps you really determine a marketer’s expertise. 

Questions such as these should be expected during the interview process — particularly when a brand is good at vetting their candidates.

1. What would you describe as the core features of ecommerce?

This question might sound philosophical, but it’s important. Think through the core platform and all parts of the commerce marketing funnel, including:

  • Top-of-funnel marketing
  • Lead nurturing
  • Sales conversion
  • Shipping and fulfillment
  • Customer loyalty and retention 

That funnel is essential to ecommerce, and you’ll need to have tools you prefer and use for each.

Your possible answer

This question doesn’t necessarily have a right answer (though, it could have plenty wrong answers). The core features of ecommerce mean something different to every organization and every ecommerce professional. 

For this question, be prepared to provide your own commentary on the current state of ecommerce and how the landscape is changing.

2. What are some of the main differences between ecommerce and the more traditional commerce?

Naturally, an ecommerce professional knows that attracting and retaining customers for an ecommerce brand happens online, where traditional commerce sales take place in person. A hiring manager wants to know that you have a grasp on the fundamental differences between the two.

That includes all of the opportunities, challenges, and distinctions that come with selling online versus brick and mortar. 

Your possible answer

Break down a few distinctions between ecommerce and traditional commerce. Even better if you can relate it back to the company you’re interviewing with (e.g., if they have retail locations and an online store). To help you answer this question, think through:

  • What are the core differences between those two channels? 
  • Where do you have specific experience? 
  • How would you drive more sales through different channels?

Here are some additional points to think through:

  • Traditional commerce transactions are manually processed, where ecommerce transactions are automatically processed.
  • Traditional commerce is limited to specific hours of the day and a limited geographical scope of businesses, where ecommerce is available all day, every day, and their customer base can reach worldwide.
  • While traditional commerce is focused predominantly on the supply side, ecommerce is focused on the demand side.
  • Traditional commerce provides instant gratification in the delivery of goods, where ecommerce requires the customer to wait for orders to be delivered.

Being able to answer this question will demonstrate how much you know about ecommerce.

3. Can you mention and describe a few ecommerce models?

Ecommerce hiring managers are asking this question to understand how well you understand the ecommerce industry. There are a ton of different models that they could be referring to, from omnichannel to direct-to-consumer (DTC) models

This is a great opportunity for you to speak to your experience, both professionally and what you’ve seen or read online.

Perhaps you have years of B2B SaaS experience, but you’re applying as an ecommerce marketer for a B2C online retailer. Help the hiring manager understand that you understand how marketing strategies differ in ecommerce.

Your possible answer

To help you answer this question, try filling in the blanks in this hypothetical statement: “I have [blank] years of experience in the [blank] industry doing [blank], but my personal experience as a consumer has compelled me to want to create better experiences for the DTC space. Here’s an example of that experience …”

4. What are some key metrics to track in any ecommerce model?

Ecommerce is still commerce, so selling product is the end goal — as it always has been. 

Especially when it comes to selling products online, sales can come from efforts across many channels (hence the popular term’“omnichannel’), so having basic to advanced knowledge of what those channel metrics are and how to set KPIs for each channel is imperative. 

In the ecommerce marketing role, some of those include:

  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC) 
  • ROAS (return on advertising spend)
  • Email / SMS open and click-through rates
  • Customer retention

Your possible answer

Pick a few metrics you’re familiar with and have experience measuring. For instance:

  • If you’re in social media marketing, talk to hitting numbers for reach, engagement, and CPC (cost per click). 
  • If you’re an email marketer, speak to optimizing email click-throughs, open rates, and list segmentation.

The more you can speak to metrics directly related to ecommerce, the better. These metrics include average order value (AOV), customer lifetime value (CLV), and repeat customer rate.

5. What do you think are some of the disadvantages of ecommerce as a business model?

You can expect this question from a company who wants to see your thought process in solving some of the challenges of ecommerce. Some of the challenges include the option to interact with the product before purchasing; privacy and security concerns; and the inability to create a brand-centric, in-person buying experience.

Your possible answer

In short, make ecommerce the hero of the story. 

So many brands, particularly in the DTC space as of late, have made their online-only platform work for them. For instance, Casper mattresses (back when they were 100% ecommerce-led) allowed customers a 100-night sleep test with a money-back guarantee. 

Pull from popular ecommerce brands as examples and showcase why ecommerce doesn’t have to feel like a simple transaction.

6. Can you mention any examples of ecommerce companies that inspire you? And why?

Anyone who is an online consumer has found a brand or two they love and return to time and time again. They have also probably found a brand or two they can’t afford to purchase from (or don’t have any particular need to purchase from), but they admire what they do anyway.

Draw on personal examples and scour the news for relevant stories, too. 

This is a chance for the company to learn more about who you are as a person, and it helps them to better understand what you’re drawn to as a consumer, and then as a marketer. 

Your possible answer

Here are some examples on how to answer this question. 

Example 1: “My guilty pleasure is Chipotle, and I love that the brand is focused on sustainable sourcing and partnering with small farms around the country. Recently, they released a merch line that was dyed with upcycled avocado pits. Now I don’t feel as bad about paying extra for my guac!”

Example 2: “I identify as female, but I admire how Hims has encouraged an open, honest conversation around men’s health and wellness. ‘Self care’ has always been a female-driven narrative, and Hims makes both curated products and information around them more accessible to the male population.”

Choose an online brand you love and explain why. 

7. We notice that customer churn is on the rise, how would you boost repeat purchase rates and increase customer retention?

Ecommerce hiring managers want to see that you already have a plan for improving key metrics before you’ve even stepped in the door. Or, at least have a solid way to think through core problems and get things done to test and improve metrics. 

Does the plan have to be entirely successful? Of course not! But to land a job as an ecommerce professional, you need at least a basic understanding of the customer mindset. 

This involves knowing ways to scale the customer experience and leverage both new and existing channels to drive results.

Your possible answer

Now’s a good time to seed your experience on how to retain customers. Briefly walk them through the problem, the strategy, and the outcome. Be sure to state what KPIs you measured and the tools you used to succeed.

If you don’t have relevant experience in growing customer retention rates, that’s okay, too. Find an opportunity in their current marketing strategy and offer it up as a suggestion, such as creating a blog with articles related to the product and/or brand, or how you would improve the brand’s marketing emails.

Offering actionable ways you can help improve the brand’s marketing strategy can help show the hiring manager the value you can bring to the table. 

8. What would you say are some technologies that have streamlined the ecommerce experience?

This question helps the hiring manager understand how much experience you have using and implementing technology. Having working knowledge of ecommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce to marketing platforms like Facebook and AdWords is helpful here. 

If that’s not possible, you should know what these tools (and others) have done to change the online shopping game. 

Your possible answer

Here are a couple examples on how to best answer this question. 

Example 1: “While not particularly new or novel, I’ve loved the implementation of technologies like virtual try-ons to reduce the amount of returns and exchanges.”

Example 2: “SaaS platforms have done an incredible job of making ecommerce easier for the thousands of entrepreneurs, but they also make it harder from a competitive point of view for those entrepreneurs. So, tools like MarketerHire that help you find great marketing talent are incredibly helpful, or tools like Later that help you schedule Instagram posts all while being able to keep an eye on the grid view is fantastic. These kinds of things give brands the differentiation they need in the market, since so much of the technology has already been democratized.”

9. How do you maintain a positive customer experience throughout an ecommerce business model?

As mentioned before, ecommerce is still commerce. Customers expect a personalized shopping experience that they won’t forget.

Maintaining a positive customer experience is embedded in the job description of every ecommerce professional. 

Your possible answer

Customers notice the smallest things, especially when they aren’t walking into a physical store. For example, Glossier sends every customer a sample of another product and a set of branded stickers. These additions cost pennies on the dollar to a company, but they mean more than their share to the customer on the other end.

Talk about ways to implement a better customer service experience like employing community management on customer reviews and social media sites.

10. In your experience, what are some of the essential ecommerce third-party partnerships to a successful ecommerce business?

For ecommerce, it’s all about creating an end-to-end ecommerce experience. With this questions, the hiring manager is looking for your experience in working with ecommerce platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, and Squarespace, to third-party logistics like ShipBob. 

Your possible answer

Speak on how to best optimize an online store and how certain third-party integrations and ecommerce solutions are essential when it comes to running an ecommerce business. 

Ecommerce job interview tips

Like any job interview, preparation is key. Being able to speak to industry trends and news, in addition to your own experience, will help you stand out from other candidates. 

Remember: Be succinct, direct, and confident. Here’s our checklist to tell if you’re ready.

1. Review the above questions before your interview

Can you fluently answer the above questions? Copy and paste the questions into a document and type out the answers in your own words. It can be wildly helpful to look at your experience from this lens.

2. Review old work or projects and draw on experiences

What can you learn from your old work? Remember that the hiring manager wasn’t a part of your previous experience. Be sure to walk them through a problem you faced, the steps you took to find a solution, and ultimately what the outcome was. Numbers and statistics are always appreciated.

3. Get to know the company

You should know about the company you’re interviewing with and not just what they do, but what their needs are and ways you can apply your experience to foster the solutions they are looking for.

4. Research ecommerce companies who are crushing it

Take the time to do your research on the top ecommerce companies and why they are the top. 

  • What marketing tools, channels, and strategies are they using? 
  • Are there any case studies that you can read and learn from? 

Present these as fodder for the hiring manager to chew on.

How tools like MarketerHire unlock ecommerce growth and success

MarketerHire is no stranger to hiring ecommerce professionals. In fact, we do it on the daily — for startups all the way up to Fortune 500s.

Through a ruthless vetting system, only 5% of freelance applicants are accepted into the network. Once accepted, freelancers are matched with clients based on skill set and availability. 

It’s the crucial part of ecommerce marketing made easy. 

If you run an ecommerce brand and is currently looking to add an ecommerce expert to your team or on your next project? MarketerHire knows a few

Conclusion

There’s nothing but opportunity in ecommerce and there’s never been a better time to be a part of the world’s fastest-growing industry. Sure, things look a lot different these days, but a few truths remain:

  1. Preparation is always, always, always key.
  2. Have conviction in your answers and play to your strengths.
  3. Form a habit of staying on top of trends and showcase your passion for ecommerce.

Whether you’re looking for roles in ecommerce growth, content management, social media strategy, or email marketing, this guide will ensure that you’re prepared to speak to your experience as it relates to the wild, wonderful world of ecommerce.