Chris Baldrey-Chourio, Managing Director of C4Commerce, explains why being able to attract in the right people and resources enables retailers to negotiate the move to an omnichannel world

Digital transformation is sweeping across all industries and business sectors. This mega trend is being felt perhaps most acutely within retail, where businesses are either embracing the trend and transforming their organisations to meet the new realities of trading in this environment, or they are facing extinction.

Retailers have been going through a process of replatforming their ecommerce systems, putting them at the heart of their businesses, replacing the former dominance of ERP systems. In doing this, retailers have also been transforming themselves from traditional bricks-and-mortar businesses, who happen to have an ecommerce site, to true omnichannel retailers.

This technological change within retail is triggering and accelerating sweeping operational changes impacting people and processes. Like it or not, retailers are having to become more tech-savvy and, as a result, resource profi les are changing; now there’s a greater emphasis on hybrid skill sets encompassing multiple disciplines that historically would have been separate.

Examples of this on the retailer side are the growth of roles in ecommerce technology, CRM insight, trading teams and people described as “growth hackers”. On the system integrator side, it’s the rise of dev ops engineers and business architects.

The dream technology vendors sold, as part of their software platform pitches to business, was that the tooling was becoming so easy to use that people with limited technical skills could use them. The reality is somewhat diff erent. On an ecommerce re-platform project this is often felt at the time of product data loading, which is typically left until towards the end of a project, far too close to the target go live date. There can be a blurring of responsibility, and a grey area between what the system integrator expects the retailer to do, and what the retailer expects the system integrator to do. This expectation gap often leads to tension and confl ict between the parties, which in extreme cases can completely derail a project.
The reality of ecommerce technologies is that they are very powerful and off er feature-rich business-user interfaces. However, to get the best out of them, the retailer’s teams need to be tech-savvy enough to use these tools comfortably. This includes understanding basic SQL for report writing, for example, as well as software engineering principles such as set theory and logical constructs such as “if then else”, and appreciating the difference logically between operators such as “AND” and “OR”. While retailers are unlikely to require fully qualified software engineers, architects and developers (unless they plan to take all development in-house), to maintain pace with innovation they will need, at a minimum, resources capable of basic script writing to support data loading activities, which will have to be done throughout the lifespan of the project as well as in day-to-day trading. On the front end of the website, they will also greatly benefit from resources with UI/ UX and design skills and knowledge. This will allow the retailer to be more nimble and responsive, making changes without having to rely on the system integrator, who may not be able to respond quickly enough or be uninterested in very minor/low value projects. As the UK’s number one ecommerce recruitment and staffi ng business, C4Commerce focuses on hiring resources for digital transformation. Our specialist ecommerce workbench enables brands to access resources and structure project teams internally, whilst also having the flexibility to scale resources appropriately. We cover a range of technical and nontechnical disciplines and have in-depth experience of assembling and building teams for SAP Hybris, Oracle Commerce, IBM and Magento. C4Commerce provide an innovative approach to resourcing projects, enabling brands to deliver a business transformation that includes the right mix of people skills, expertise, changes to business processes and organisational structure.