Every statistic and guru prediction has told us Canada is ready to rock online business. They’re slowly putting eCommerce in place, utilizing online marketplaces, participating in online marketing, and getting a grip on multi-channel retail. Businesses are embracing eCommerce with good reason. At the Retail Council of Canada’s STORE 2014 conference, Keith Anderson, VP & Senior Analyst at Retail Net Group, predicted digitally influenced retail will soon trump traditional offline retail. The latest Statistics Canada data indicates almost half (47%) of Canadians now shop online.
All of this growth and focus on Internet sales and marketing is already resulting in a serious shortage of people who have the talent and expertise to pull it off. One only has to look across the border to see American companies already poaching established eBusiness experts to avoid an expensive hiring error. Whenever you see yet another scandal involving something said or done on social media, for example, chances are there’s a bad hire behind it. That’s because countless people say they can do the job, but very few actually excel at it.
Don’t look to the universities to eventually cover the skills shortage in this category. It only takes two years for tech-related business education to become obsolete, but the average business degree takes at least four years to complete. By the time they graduate, a student’s education is already outdated. To remain current in this field, eCommerce and online marketing professionals must constantly continue to learn (mostly on their own time). To have the drive and ambition it takes for that level of perpetual learning, the individual must truly love what they do. Those factors alone seriously reduce the chance of any business finding a diamond in the rough.
Further complicating matters is the skill diversity required in these positions. They must have talent in everything from business acumen to writing, tech to graphics design, marketing to public relations, analytical to decisive, planning to leadership, and beyond. There is no way around this, to succeed online Canadian businesses are going to have to make some very smart hiring decisions from a shrinking pool of talent.
Another critical factor is these positions are often very public on a very unforgiving Internet. By nature, it demands personality, decorum, maturity, sound judgement, and an understanding that they must conduct themselves professionally (or at least respectfully) at all times.
What can you do?
- Start building your eCommerce and online marketing team right now. The demand remains reasonable at the moment but within the next couple of years it will be next to impossible to find even average online business staff.
- Talent can be pricey, but small businesses can still afford to score in eCommerce. Your best bet is to find those elusive individuals who can do it all. Often they’ve been in the workplace for 20+ years and have grown with the Internet. They embraced it and expanded their skill set to include it, yet they can still cover traditional jobs for you. For example, I can manage your office, support your sales team, fill in for your administrative assistant, do your online and offline marketing, write for your blog, design your graphics, manage your social media, move effortlessly between online and offline business/retail, work with both techies and dinosaurs, plus set up and maintain your website. We’re out there, grab one while you can and you’ll have several employees for the price of 1.5.
- Watch the Internet for shining stars in the field. Seeing them in action is the only way to reasonably ensure they’re going to take your company to the top of cyberspace.
- When you find one of these multi-talented individuals, charm them, woo them, and hang onto them for dear life if you get them. Remember the days when talented computer techs where getting shiny new sports cars as a signing bonus? That’s where eCommerce and online marketing is going.
Be ready before you hire so no time is wasted. For example, you can take the first step of bringing your business online, even if you don’t immediately have eCommerce features. Make sure your website host facilitates Canadian eCommerce in regards to currency and shipping options so your new staff can hit the ground running. The most popular Canadian eCommerce platform provider is Shopify Canada
The potential success offered by online business in Canada is both exciting and intimidating at the same time. Start now, be ready, and the places it takes your business will make you wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.
Editor’s note: For information about hiring our part-time digital marketing manager / writer, Melody McKinnon, please contact her directly through the About Our Writer page rather than via customer support. Please don’t step on her cape during the stampede. 😉 Thank you!
DemacMedia: 4 Key Takeaways from Retail Council of Canada’s STORE 2014
Statistics Canada: Digital technology and Internet use, 2013
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