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Who is my eStore manager?

By Manish Lonial and Akhilesh Srivastava  manish_lonial@infosys.com, Akhileshcs@infosys.com

Coming out of a Macy's store a man introduced himself as the store manager and thanked us for shopping at Macy's. Driving back home my 7 year old daughter asked me: “Dad who is the store manager when you buy at home on your laptop?” Hmmm…never thought about that before.

I looked back thinking about the e-retailers that I have worked with and started searching for the person in the ecommerce organization who has the bottom line responsibility of website operations, sales and profitability goals and customer satisfaction:

  • .com VP/president?
  • Customer service manager?
  • IT manager?
  • Content manager?
  • Marketing manager?

Everyone had a stake in the game but the question remained: Who is my eStore manager?

Store manager are measured based on the sales and profitability targets as well as customer satisfaction. To meet their objectives, store manager for brick-and-mortar store take responsibility for all store operations including customer satisfaction, sales and returns management, in-store marketing, inventory management, loss prevention and risk management.

Like brick-and-mortar stores; product, price and customer service still hold the paramount importance for the eStore. However, success of eStore is critically dependent upon few additional factors:

  • Website availability: Your eStore is always available for business.
  •  Website performance: Response time which customers experience while on the eStore.
  • Ease of navigation and product availability: Your eStore can carry "unlimited" products.
  • Website scalability: Your eStore can accommodate huge number of customers while providing them with individual experience.

If you look carefully at what differentiates an eStore from a regular store you will notice a lot more IT system aspects that calls for a very diverse skill set in your eStore manager.

Majority of retailers continue to manage their e-commerce operations with separate business and IT teams similar to their bricks and mortar stores. This often results in a sub-optimal customer experience from retailers’ eStore, which is not consistent with the brick-and-mortar stores potentially hurting retailers brand image.

In our experience, setting up a dedicated eStore operations team can solve this problem.

The eStore manager -- person leading the eStore operations team -- should have the bottom line responsibility for successfully running the eStores and measured for the defined sales, profitability and customer experience and satisfaction metrics. The eStore manager should have the ability and organizational power to bring business and IT together to run the eStore.

Depending on organization’s maturity and culture one can chose to bring in a mix of Business and IT resources to the eStore operations team to provide an enriching experience to the customer.

The advantage of such an organization framework is:

  • eStore operations becomes a specialized function and the team provides a good balance of resources combining business and IT functions.
  • Running the eStore is a critical organization function. Your eStore is one of the largest stores in the organization with needs care 24x7 as your eStore is always open for business. Having dedicated focus allows quick turn around and better service to your customers.

Conclusion
Over last few years, online channel has grown in importance. There is a strong need and a business case to establish the dedicated eStore organization if online channel is part of long term strategy. Even the retailers who have identified the need are often struggling to setup the right organization structure. 

Manish Lonial is a Principal in the Next Generation Commerce practice of Infosys Consulting. He can be reached at manish_lonial@infosys.com.

Akhilesh Srivastava is a senior principal in the retail, distribution and CPG practice of Infosys Consulting. He can be reached at Akhileshcs@infosys.com.

© 2014