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Retail & Sales careers

Retail: Online

How big is the online retail industry?

Nowadays, the majority of retail companies have online stores. More often than not, consumers can buy everything on the web that can be found in the shops, and sometimes even more.

Some retail companies don’t even have actual shops on the high street and completely opt to sell their goods through the power of the internet. Ever heard of Amazon? Ever heard of ASOS? These guys are huge names in the industry and many more similar retail companies are bound to spring up as the internet gets even bigger and better!

Online retail is here to stay. According to the Office for National Statistics, £1 in every £10 is now spent online. Consequently, the online retail industry is calling out for a wealth of staff, from search engine optimisation professionals, web developers and buyers, to merchandisers, online security experts and logistics teams.

What branches make up the online retail industry?

There are many facets to online retail and different people are needed to make sure that every stage of the online shopping experience runs smoothly, right from when you’re browsing on the site until you’re eagerly waiting for your brand new ‘mankini’ to arrive in the post.

Generally, we can divide online retail industry into three camps: the people responsible for building and promoting the website, those who decide what is featured on the site and those responsible for ensuring that customers get what they have ordered.

One of the best things about online retail is that there are many available positions that you may not have initially expected to find when looking at careers within the retail sector.

Who builds and promotes online retail sites?

The web moves quickly and retail is all about image. Getting the right look for your online store, which matches the target user, is imperative, and website usability is of paramount importance.

This process requires top notch web designers, front-end developers, back-end developers and technical engineers. You will need to work to tight deadlines and keep up to date with the latest web design trends and technologies.

In anticipation of the large number of users that will be visiting these online stores, these websites have to be designed to handle the influx of online shoppers.

They also need to be extremely secure, so that users feel comfortable about handing over their credit and debit card details. Although security and encryption is often outsourced to banks and other financial institutions, most websites also have internal information security teams that work to ensure the integrity of their users’ personal details.

Who decides on the products for online retail sites?

Buyers and merchandisers have to predict buying trends and identify what will sell. They will often have to react quickly to ensure that there is enough stock available at the right time, because, unlike a high street store, online stores can experience tens of thousands of visitors each day. They must also spend a significant proportion of their time looking at sales statistics to analyse performance and preparing for foreseeable customer demands.

Who handles order deliveries for an online retail site?

Logistics and supply chain managers are at the core of online retail and the people involved in this area must work closely with the buyers, merchandisers and the website team. It’s important to be able to spot upcoming shortfalls and coordinate deliveries on a mass scale to thousands of locations across the UK and the rest of the world.

An online retail role could be a great option if you would like to work in the retail sector, but are looking for a less conventional role! It would mean you wouldn’t have to fork out for a uniform or face the embarrassment of in-store events, and you could sit at your desk eating pretzels – pretty ideal, really.