At this very minute, even as you are reading this, millions of people around the world are booking their air tickets, purchasing clothes, buying books, music, movie tickets or other products and services online. Yes, e-commerce is alive and well and here to stay.
The global e-commerce market, in fact, has witnessed a massive surge over the last decade, driven in large part by the galloping internet penetration, the mobile and smart devices revolution, the growing acceptance of online payments and the proliferation of companies offerings goods and services on the internet. The rise of social media has also resulted in ‘social commerce’, a scenario where organisations are using popular platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus, and Meetup, among others, for intensive business-building activities such as targeting, acquiring and engaging with customers.
According to the latest forecasts by eMarketer, a leading research source for marketing, the worldwide business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce sales will soon increase by 20.1% to reach $1,500 trillion!
The e-commerce market in India, too, is reflecting these international trends and, having rejected e-commerce in the nascent years, is now embracing the phenomenon with gusto. The country’s rapidly expanding online and mobile user base, advancing shipping and payment options and jump in m-commerce sales have resulted in the ‘rebirth’ of e-commerce and its high growth. The emergence of success stories such as Flipkart, Amazon, Makemytrip, Pepperfry, Myntra, eBay and a host of matrimonial and other websites are adding even more fuel to the e-commerce blaze.
The obvious question is, when as e-commerce is here, can career opportunities be far behind?
According to a recent Technopak-KPMG-IAMAI study, the Indian e-commerce sector is projected to scale the $76 billion mark by 2021 and create a demand for a staggering 1.4 million employees. Without doubt, the e-commerce industry is going to be a preferred career destination for Indians, especially the Gen Next.
However, as with any other sector, there are barriers to entry. The e-commerce industry requires people with specialised skills and domain knowledge. E-commerce companies are on the lookout for young people who have an understanding of how e-commerce works. What they require are category managers, logistics managers, digital marketers, web designers, website maintenance and information security professionals, and people with expertise in web analytics, copywriting and content creation.
At the same time, since e-commerce is particularly flourishing in some specific verticals such as travel and tourism, retail and banking, the industry needs professionals who have a deep understanding of these business domains as well.
For the industry, however, the challenge is that this pool of available trained talent is simply not large enough, especially in India, to meet the manpower needs of the burgeoning e-commerce industry. The lack of specialised courses on e-commerce at the college and university levels has severely limited the number of skilled people that recruiters can hire.
Efforts are on to overcome this human resource crunch and bridge the skills gap. The leader in skills and talent development, NIIT, for instance, has recently tied-up with eBay to launch a certification programme for the e-commerce sector. The ePro Certification programme covers subjects such as the process of selling, inventory management, customer service and marketing, preparing learners for careers in sales, operations, merchandise, payments and logistics.
There is, of course, a crying need for more such training, which will help build the necessary manpower for this industry, enhance the employability of learners and further open up fresh job opportunities for aspirants within the e-commerce realm.
India’s youngsters now have a great chance to participate in India’s big e-commerce party, bagging plum jobs that are usually higher up than others on the pay scale. For those who have the right training and relevant skills, the e-commerce industry is open, ready and waiting.
By Shivan Bhargava
The author is group president, Skills & Careers Group, NIIT Ltd