They say it takes a village to raise a family, and the same is true of an ecommerce business.
Whether your ecommerce business is in its infancy or is more mature, the people involved are a crucial aspect of making sure your business is healthy and growing. To ensure that your website, online store, and ecommerce operations are running smoothly, you’ll need plenty of qualified individuals to assist you. After all, you wouldn’t leave your baby with just anyone, right? This is where a Director of Ecommerce comes in.
Whether you’re an aspiring Ecommerce Director, a business owner searching for the right fit for your ecommerce company, or somewhere in-between, this guide will help you navigate what it means to be a Director of Ecommerce.
What is a Director of Ecommerce?
A Director of Ecommerce is a cross-functional position that is responsible for maintaining and optimising an ecommerce company’s website (and other sales channels) so it can sell products online.
This person is responsible for various facets of online operations, business planning, and marketing strategies. The Director of Ecommerce provides thoughtful analysis of market trends, strategies on how to increase brand awareness, insight on increasing online sales, and ways to improve customer acquisition and retention.
The function of Ecommerce Director varies from company to company. Therefore, job descriptions for this role vary and so do job titles. This position can also be known as:
- Senior Director of Ecommerce
- Head of Ecommerce
- Digital and Ecommerce Marketing Director
- Ecommerce Director
It is important to choose the right title and job description for the position you are hiring for to ensure you are getting the best, most qualified candidates. Be cognizant of whether you want this person to be more operations or marketing focused and ensure your job description makes that clear. If you want the role to be more operations-focused, consider positioning the job as a Director of Logistics or Director of Fulfilment.
Learn how to identify the roles and responsibilities of a Director of Ecommerce using the classifications below to make sure you’re finding someone who will be the best fit for your business.
Common responsibilities of Ecommerce Directors
The Director of Ecommerce’s goal is to oversee the ecommerce functions of the business in all of its various forms — from getting people to the store, to converting visitors into long-term buyers. This includes:
- Managing the website and online store
- Overseeing digital marketing strategies
- Interviewing and hiring employees
- Establishing goals for the team
- Setting the company up for success
- Defining ecommerce product pricing strategies
- Communicating with suppliers
- Forecasting demand (especially during the holidays)
- Overseeing sales performance
Depending on the size of the business, this role may vary in scope. For smaller operations, the Director of Ecommerce should have broad ecommerce experience because they’ll be wearing many different hats. They will likely be hands-on in the management of day-to-day ecommerce tasks.
For medium to large sized ecommerce businesses, the Director of Ecommerce will be less involved in the daily minutiae and more involved in improving sales performance, scaling the business, introducing new sales channels, cleaning up strategies, and managing the team.
Managing ecommerce website(s)
Overseeing and driving sales to the company’s online store is the Director of Ecommerce’s most prevalent role. In order to optimise the user experience, an Ecommerce Director will determine the ecommerce platform, format, navigation, and offerings the website utilises.
These thoughtful features will make the site easier to navigate, help users find what they’re looking for, and increase sales. The Director of Ecommerce will collabourate with internal or partner web design and web development teams to make optimisations and adjustments as needed.
These regular updates are crucial to running and growing an ecommerce business. Ensuring products have optimal and accurate pricing information, reviewing the online catalogueue, and checking inventory ahead of promotions (e.g. Black Friday/Cyber Monday or flash sales) are audits the Ecommerce Director must oversee.
Managing the online presence becomes especially important when the company sells on multiple platforms. As the business leverages omnichannel fulfilment to maximise orders from numerous channels, the Ecommerce Director must also understand ecommerce logistics (including production lead times and inventory levels to prevent stockouts) and the full-funnel customer journey.
Shopify is a best-in-class ecommerce platform that an Ecommerce Director may consider using, if they aren’t already. Shopify’s solution to running an online store is effective and efficient for ecommerce businesses of all sizes. Regardless if you’re using Shopify or Shopify Plus, our How to Sell On Shopify guide gives you the steps needed to get your store off the ground or optimise it for best practices. This resource is a great tool for everyone from the CEO to Ecommerce Director, and everyone in between.
ShipBob has partnered with other industry leaders such as BigCommerce, Wix, Squarespace, Square, and WooCommerce – along with marketplace partners like Amazon, Walmart, and more. Part of the Director of Ecommerce’s role may be to oversee product listings across these channels.
Implementing or overseeing a marketing strategy
While the Director of Ecommerce will have a heavy focus on the functions of the online store, they will also be responsible for managing a digital marketing strategy. For some companies, the Director of Ecommerce may be the marketing team’s first key hire. Working cohesively with a marketing team is an essential part of the Ecommerce Director’s duties. The Ecommerce Director may also work with a variety of external agencies who specialize in web development, SEO, paid social, and Google Adwords.
When creating an online marketing strategy for an ecommerce business, there are numerous considerations — including budget, digital marketing KPIs, growth trajectory, where you sell (in terms of channels and countries you ship to), the products you sell, and much more.
Whether you’re developing the brand from scratch or refining it, focusing on your brand is an important first step. Identifying the company’s target demographic and unique brand identity will help you understand how to best market the business. Once you understand the brand goals, you’re able to customise the customer’s journey to align with your vision.
There are various online marketing tactics to consider for an ecommerce business.
- Facebook ads and Snapchat ads can help you reach your brand awareness and sales goals if you understand best practices for targeting and ROAS.
- Text message or SMS marketing is a great option to gain subscribers, drive promotions, and communicate with customers with the appropriate opt-ins.
- SEO and creating blog posts that target keywords relevant to your products is a low-cost way to have potential customers organically find your website.
The Director of Ecommerce should be familiar with various types of marketing and advertising strategies to build brand awareness and increase sales.
Interviewing and hiring employees
Interviewing candidates, hiring the right people, and training them to have an impact is a big responsibility for an Ecommerce Director. Finding employees to join the team can be a challenging task. What do you look for? What questions do you ask?
When looking for ecommerce marketers, prioritise which roles you need to start – e.g., a Paid Media person, Organic Social Specialist, or a full-time content creator. This will help you search for someone with an appropriate work history, whether its brand strategy experience, the ability to create marketing calendars, a background working with creative teams, or are capable of analising customer data.
ShipBob curated a list of ecommerce interview questions, complete with thoughtful answers, so you’re able to prepare for the interview, regardless of what side of the table you’re on. You can also look to ShipBob partners like MarketerHire to find everything from part-time freelancers to your next full-time hires.
Ensuring scalable growth
Growth falls under the Director of Ecommerce’s umbrella of responsibility. There are various ways to define and measure growth, whether its increased revenue, new and returning customers, or subscription orders. To make it scalable, strategies should aim to:
- Reduce customer acquisition costs (CAC).
- Increase average order value (AOV).
- Extend customer lifetime value (LTV).
The Ecommerce Director should consider customer satisfaction strategies to gain recurring business, avoid cart abandonment, and utilise ways to upsell products on the ecommerce site. These strategies are a win-win for you and also your customers.
To drive revenue and increase customers, the Ecommerce Director should consider running different promotions on the company’s ecommerce site. Dollar discounts, percentages off, buy one, get one deals, and free shipping are great incentive options to entice new and returning customers to make a purchase (or deplete old inventory).
Setting short-term and long-term goals
To make sure you’re headed on a path toward scalable growth, the Director of Ecommerce should set goals for success. Long-term and short-term goal setting gives ecommerce companies a roadmap for growth.
Goals for your ecommerce business should be S.M.A.R.T. Yep, the old adage of “specific, measurable, action-oriented, results-focused, and with a specific timeline” still applies. These parameters, laid out by the Director of Ecommerce, will give your business a roadmap for how you’re working toward your goals and when you are set to achieve them.
So what goals should an Ecommerce Director consider? Relevant goals for an ecommerce business may include:
- Driving website traffic
- Increasing revenue
- Growing distribution lists for email and/or SMS
- Upping average order value
- Prioritizing customer satisfaction
The Director of Ecommerce can utilise pre-orders, flash sales, and a customer-focused return policy to help meet goals and drive profitability.
Improving and managing fulfilment supply chain operations
It’s critical for the Director of Ecommerce to be involved in supply chain to at least be in the know on everything from order fulfilment, procurement, and inventory management. After all:
- You don’t want to run a big promotion if you’re out of inventory.
- You want to ensure your customers automatically receive ecommerce order tracking once their package ships.
- You want the first impression or the first in-person interaction for your product to be memorable and live up to expectations.
Being a part of conversations across the supply chain and with regard to ecommerce shipping can help Ecommerce Directors improve customer loyalty and help hone the brand’s experience through branded custom packaging and unboxing. These touches will wow customers and encourage them to come running back to your online store.
Prerequisites & experience required for ecommerce directors
Being a Director of Ecommerce is a multi-faceted role. Technical skills such as website management and development of marketing strategies are crucial to excel in the ecommerce world. However, there are also numerous soft skills that are required. A successful Ecommerce Director should have a balance of both.
Strong analytical skills
Interpreting data and analytics is an important part of being an Ecommerce Director. Setting up and understanding necessary ecommerce KPIs is crucial for your business’s success. Unique to the ecommerce space, someone in this role should be able to understand and complete demand forecasting, and work with logistics folks who help replenish inventory.
Having a Director of Ecommerce that can dive into the data and look critically at results will ensure your business is on track to meet its goals and ramp up sales. An Ecommerce Director with strong analytical skills can use data as a backstop to course correct any potential issues or challenges as they arise.
Experience with B2C ecommerce is necessary for aspiring Ecommerce Directors. If someone is starting out in the ecommerce industry, they should gain an understanding of marketing, social media platforms, consumer psychology, unit economics, and product margin in order to move up the ranks to eventually become a Director of Ecommerce.
Typically, Ecommerce Directors have seven years of experience in the industry. Previous relevant positions may include Ecommerce Manager, Product Manager, or Marketing Manager.
Sales and marketing experience
A background in sales and digital marketing is important for an Ecommerce Director, though a key to being successful is staying relevant and up-to-date on where consumers go to find products, their values, and understanding your target audience.
The more sales and marketing experience, the more revenue that could potentially be generated for the ecommerce business. The ability to effectively market the product across mediums, convert visitors on the website, and ultimately sell more products to consumers, is a key factor and marker for success.
Strategic online marketing and sales tactics are bountiful in the ecommerce space. Effective strategies the Director of Ecommerce can implement include:
- Gaining customer reviews and showcasing them in different places
- Offering product bundles
- Creating a competitive SEO strategy
- Optimising the online store’s checkout page
Working with and overseeing a team is part of being an Ecommerce Director. Someone in the Director of Ecommerce role typically has 5 years of managerial experience. In smaller ecommerce operations, the team is usually composed of two to three people. For larger businesses, there are upwards of six to seven employees focused on ecommerce.
The Director of Ecommerce must be able to effectively manage their team members while driving additional ecommerce projects. They may also manage relationships with different agencies or freelancers they outsource work to, in addition to software vendors for the various tools in their tech stack.
It is essential for the Director of Ecommerce to have strong communication within their team as well as with clients. As previously mentioned, the Ecommerce Director will be responsible for collabourating with various departments and partners as well as manage their own team.
Internal communication is important to make sure the business is running smoothly. However, Ecommerce Directors must also keep customers informed and engaged post-purchase. Email marketing and SMS marketing are two common ways to communicate with consumers.
Director of Ecommerce salary range
Salary ranges for Director of Ecommerce roles vary based on years of experience, industry, and location. On average, the salary range for an Ecommerce Director is between $150,000 and $200,000 depending on the size of the brand. The median salary as of 2021 is around $170,000 annually or $72 per hour.
Tips for current or future ecommerce directors
If you’re a current Director of Ecommerce or aspiring to be one, these tips will help to successfully move within your industry and career.
Choosing the right sales platforms
A major consideration for an Ecommerce Director is finding and choosing the best sales platform for the company and ensuring that it aligns with their goals, budget, and needs. This is a substantial undertaking for anyone in this role. The ecommerce industry as a whole is saturated with sales platforms. The question becomes: which platforms should you adopt?
Walmart Marketplace, Amazon, Google Shopping, and Facebook Shops are all avenues to explore on your journey to find the best sales platform for your ecommerce store. Utilising multiple of these channels is common for an ecommerce business to expand their total addressable market and reach more customers.
As a Director of Ecommerce, you should understand omnichannel retail and how to optimise your strategy so your business is set up for success. If the brand sells to other businesses, Ecommerce Directors should consider B2B ecommerce strategies such as creating an appealing platform for customers, whether the sales platform integrates with current software and third-party suppliers, and if it provides consistent and accurate data.
Partnering with the right logistics company and automating
Slow delivery is a pet peeve of many of today’s consumers. Delays in delivery can lose customers. One study found that 68% of customers are less likely to make another purchase with a retailer whose item arrived 2 days after the promised date.
To alleviate issues like these, partnering with the right 3PL company is essential. While the Director of Ecommerce isn’t the decision-maker (or often even involved in choosing a 3PL), the better the fulfilment experience, the more loyalty you can cultivate.
When you outsource ecommerce logistics, any advanced analytics (if provided by the 3PL like ShipBob does) lets Ecommerce Directors gain insights into supply chain efficiency and get products to the end user more quickly. Not only will your business become more efficient, you’ll be able to exceed customer expectations and grow even more rapidly when you use a 3PL for your DTC ecommerce company.
Choosing the right logistics company also reduces shipping costs and time spent on getting products from point A to point B. Not to mention it relieves the Director of Ecommerce of many headaches (in the form of bad reviews, a higher return rate, and greater challenges of getting repeat purchases). Features like automated shipping and order tracking will become lifesavers as your company grows or you’re ramping up for peak season.
Implementing modern tech stacks
Having best-in-class technology will undoubtedly help your company grow. Directors of Ecommerce should always stay on the cutting edge of emerging technology and best practices. Considering tactics such as headless ecommerce and end-to-end ecommerce can help you be flexible in the event of sudden changes and stay competitive in the ecommerce space.
Social commerce is another strategy that can increase engagement, sales, and recurring customers. Additionally, staying abreast of email and SMS marketing is a great way to communicate with customers, but also automate your marketing so there’s less for your ecommerce team to manage.
Always be testing (on your website)
A good website is going to drive more sales, bottom line. Consistently testing your website is important to ensure users are finding what they’re looking for without approaching roadblocks. The Director of Ecommerce should make an assessment of the website and see what optimisations could be made.
While you may not need to do an entire website overhaul, your online website could benefit from tweaks that would improve landing page optimisation, reduce cart abandonment, and perfect product descriptions.
We’ve worked with experts in conversion rate optimisation to tear down ecommerce websites and find common issues and implement best practices like:
- Remove immediate popups and move newsletter signups closer to the footer.
- Use ‘Free Shipping’ or ‘Free Gift with Purchase’ promos instead of discounted incentives.
- Rethink your ‘above the fold’ strategy and use your top navigation to showcase your products.
- Enhance social proof including reviews from consumers and publications.
- Don’t direct shoppers to social media sites (AKA: off of your website).
Measure + keep track of supply chain KPIs
This goes back to being comfortable with data and analytics, a skill every Ecommerce Director should strive to master. By understanding supply chain analytics, you’re able to better manage risks, forecast inventory based on promotions, and optimise your supply chain.
Distribution metrics are also important for a Director of Ecommerce to keep an eye on. These metrics keep a finger on the pulse of your inventory receiving, warehousing, picking, packing, shipping, and delivery. An Ecommerce Director can look at everything from most common shipping methods selected at checkout and average transit times, to order accuracy rate and real-time inventory levels to see how soon you will run out of stock.
For example, using ShipBob’s fulfilment services and free built-in analytics can help Ecommerce Directors answer questions like, “What is my average fulfilment cost per order?” and “What are my best selling products?”
How ShipBob helps Ecommerce Directors stand out
Being an Ecommerce Director is demanding, we get that. But ShipBob can turn the challenge of fulfilment into a growth lever. B2C fulfilment is more than picking and packing, it’s an opportunity to integrate your ecommerce solutions so your 3PL is working with you, not against you.
Partnering with a tech-driven logistics company like ShipBob allows all aspects of your ecommerce strategy to work synergistically. This means less headaches for you and a more positive experience for your customers. Rather than logistics being a cost centre, you can drive more revenue in the form of appealing shipping options and a positive shipping experience.
ShipBob customer testimonials
ShipBob works with thousands of ecommerce businesses every day. Read our case studies to learn more and hear how outsourcing fulfilment has helped brands grow faster, while providing a branded unboxing experience.
“ShipBob lets me outsource the things I’m not good at, nor want to be good at, and frees up my time for those at which I excel and can make an impact on my business like marketing, building a brand, and creating a great online experience. The fact that I don’t have to think about my shipping integration, do anything when someone orders from me, or worry that something might not get to them makes it more hassle-free.”
– Tracey Wallace, Founder of Doris Sleep
Director of Ecommerce FAQs
Here are answers to the top questions about Ecommerce Directors.
What skills does a director of ecommerce need?
A successful Director of Ecommerce has both technical and soft skills. An Ecommerce Director should be a strong communicator, have analytical skills, and be confident managing a team. They must understand what drives consumers to purchase, effective marketing tactics that drive action (including managing a budget), where their target audience goes to find products, and align their values to the online offerings.
How much does an ecommerce director make?
This ultimately depends on the brand, their funding, and size, but the median salary for a Director of Ecommerce is $170,000. The average salary is typically between $150,000 and $200,000.
How do I become an ecommerce director?
On average, a Director of Ecommerce has seven years of experience in the ecommerce industry. To become an Ecommerce Director, you should have a background in marketing strategy, sales, business development, ecommerce, and operations management. To become an Ecommerce Director you typically must have a Bachelor’s Degree in marketing, business administration, information technology, or another related field.
Is ecommerce director a good job?
The ecommerce industry is growing each year due to increases in online shopping across multiple channels (as well as shifts like the COVID-19 pandemic that greatly accelerated the growth rate). In fact, ecommerce is expected to grow over 13% in 2021, according to Insider Intelligence. Continuous growth in the ecommerce field makes it a great career opportunity with many available jobs.