Ecommerce sites are the business platforms of the future. The last decade has shown us the vast potential of an online store or product marketplace. However, because an ecommerce business can grow much bigger than a physical establishment, it needs someone to make sure the products are up to quality standards and that customers get the optimal experience.
This is where the eCommerce product manager job title comes in.
In this article, we'll go over what ecommerce product managers do, how ecommerce product management works, the qualifications required for the job, and how to become a good online product manager.
Let's get into it.
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What is an Ecommerce Product Manager? [An Overview]
Simply put, online product managers ensure the ecommerce site runs smoothly (according to agile practices), the demands and feedback of the customers are heard, and that the quality of the new products is as per set standards.
Being directly in charge of the platform itself as a product, they are the point person when it comes to developing the optimal customer experience.
Ecommerce product managers serve as a virtual liaison between the technical product development team, business development managers and executives, as well as various major stakeholders.
Here are some of the responsibilities of an ecommerce product manager in 2021:
- Conduct extensive market research and create realistic user stories for service optimization.
- Collaborate regularly with the product team to develop and introduce new site features as needed.
- Develop product strategy based on the prevalent state of ecommerce business, and create product roadmaps
- Create a high level of website and mobile app functionality, and deliver the optimal user experience.
- Assist business developers in analyzing all the business requirements and coordinate efforts to increase business.
Other than that, the online product manager is also responsible for building the training pipeline and creating all the training materials needed to get existing stakeholders (internal and external) in line with the new strategic objectives (if any).
It's important to note that the actual definition of the role may vary from company to company, and that this is what the typical ecommerce product manager's baseline job description.
Ecommerce Product Manager Job Duties and Responsibilities
Product management itself is a wide and diverse field, with each company defining what the position means in terms of its requirements and vision.
However, there are some baseline responsibilities that come with the role nevertheless. This is specifically for product management in an ecommerce environment.
1) Attain and Distribute Product Knowledge
Ecommerce product managers may not be as hands-on with all of their products as physical product managers, but they actually need to know their product much more in-depth.
This is due to the constant ebb and flow of incoming products and those being discontinued on the site, as well as the strategic responsibilities of the manager with respect to the product vision.
Here is what online product managers have to do in terms of product information:
- Research existing product types on offer and find out which company/brand makes the best version of those, for development purposes.
- Circulate a questionnaire or conduct a series of brief interviews with the product vendors, development teams, and other product team members to learn as much as possible about the product.
- Build cases for and against certain products after thorough research into their merits, in front of the major stakeholders.
- Analyze product requirements among customers.
- Recommend new products and help the marketing team create effective strategies.
Additionally, managers can collaborate with the testing department to check if the products are viable for current and future markets.
2) Develop Customer Wireframes
Maintaining an optimal standard of customer services and paying attention to all user stories is a fundamental responsibility for all product managers.
This is due to the central nature of the position, in which the individual is responsible for acting as a bridge between the development team, and the customers, in terms of the services that the company is developing.
Here's what product managers have to do in terms of developing customer services:
- Reading up on use cases from the most relevant competitors and developing case studies from them.
- Asking via interview or questionnaire how the target market prefers to use the product, and what qualities they prefer in it.
- Manage the known product defects, while putting in timely requests to make modifications or adjustments to the product.
- Monitor all incoming and outgoing requests for the product in time for timely product releases.
- Surveying the product teams for suggestions regarding the product, and ideas for future product specifications.
Furthermore, they need to go through all elevated customer queries and either address them directly, or forward them to sales.
3) Confirm and Approve Product Delivery
Product delivery is a hands-on task and falls directly on the manager to implement, for all products in the current inventory.
Before delivery though, managers have to test the product and confirm whether it is ready for the market, in its state at that point in time. This is especially true for digital products, for which managers will have to collaborate with the testing teams.
Here's what managers have to do in terms of approving product launches:
- Go through ideal product specifications and confirm whether all the recommended improvements have been implemented.
- Prepare all the documents for business requirements, goals, metrics, etc.
- Monitor and ensure complete regulatory compliance in all aspects of the product development and launch pipeline.
- Coordinate with the senior management on creating an effective launch schedule for future releases.
Additionally, managers have to make sure each product is given its due marketing attention before, during, and after launch.
4) Manage Product Finances
Most companies have the product manager as the point person on all finances related to the product.
Here's what the product manager has to do in terms of product financial management:
- Work with company leadership and financial stakeholders to develop an effective financial strategy.
- Collaborate with product owners to settle on the optimal short and long-term pricing for all products and accounts.
- Analyze all the key business metrics that are directly related to finance and get all stakeholders on the same page about it.
- Perform usability tests and perform market research on all the current and future ecommerce projects.
- Develop financial management plans for the finance department for both individual products and accounts.
Additionally, the product manager has to conduct meetings with company leadership to decide on how the current financial status of the company with regards to its product catalog can be improved in the long run.
Typical Qualifications of an Ecommerce Product Manager
Generally, a product manager should have qualifications that are directly relevant to corporate management, with a secondary focus on product strategy.
Here are some of the recommended qualifications for all ecommerce product managers:
- Bachelor's degree in Business Administration or Operations Management.
- Master's degree in Business Administration, Product Marketing, and/or marketing.
- Advanced diploma in business management, marketing, and/or product management.
- Vocational diploma with extensive internship experience in real-world product management scenarios.
Additionally, if the host company is SaaS-based and is working within the B2B sphere, it pays to have some knowledge of content marketing and SEO.
This will help them craft a product strategy that is more aligned to their business goals, as well as help them position the product optimally, even from the development stage.
How to Succeed as an Ecommerce Product Manager in 2021
When it comes to success as a product manager, you will only achieve as much as your knowledge of the industry, the product(s), and your unique vision for the company you're working in.
This goes for both the ecommerce and brick and mortar retailer sectors, as both are experiencing a quantum shift in how they operate on both the front and back end.
However, there are some things you can do, some techniques you can adopt to ensure that you always stay on top of the ecommerce management game.
Here are some tips for success as an ecommerce product manager:
- Get Online Certification: The recent decade has shown us that online certifications have not just caught up to formal degree and trade diplomas, but have exceeded them in many industries. Get certified with a few relevant and updated online courses on product management in the ecommerce sphere.
- Focus on User Experience: User experience is the single most important point of focus for modern product managers since the majority of repeat purchase decisions are based on the user's first experience with a product. Emphasize high-quality UX development as much as you can with each product and any and all new features to ensure a steady stream of business.
- Study the User: Developing, analyzing, and leveraging user stories often means the difference between a successful product and one that fails to hit the mark, or gets overtaken by competitor products. Make sure to conduct effective user interviews and get as much insight from the user regarding their demands and specifications.
- Become a Project Manager: Product and project management go hand in hand, in the context of ecommerce product development. Either take a course on modern project management in an agile environment or focus on the area during the job to become generally more effective at undertaking bigger and more important tasks.
- Learn Ecommerce Business Strategy: As a product manager, you will be responsible for coming up with the primary product strategy for the company. Make sure that you understand what the responsibility entails, and that you can develop such strategies with the long-term goals of the company in mind.
- Develop Communication Skills: Being the focal person for the entire product management team, as well as the center point for development and launching, the ideal product manager should have excellent communication skills. This will help them to better understand the customer, their own dev capacity, and business goals.
It's important to remember that at the end of the day, product managers are also products, and they have to upskill themselves with the right knowledge, at the right time, to become a valuable full-time hire for the ecommerce company, as well as have a fruitful career.
If you're interested in gaining some invaluable product management skills and grow your career, feel free to check out our top-rated product management certification.
If there's anything the (still ongoing) pandemic situation from 2020 has taught us, it's that businesses with legacy systems and managers with legacy training and tools need to evolve. If not, they run the risk of becoming obsolete very quickly in the rapidly shifting market.
Ecommerce companies such as Amazon, AliExpress, and the ilk have taken the market by storm and there's a lot to be learned from their success, on both the grander business level and the individual product management level.
In light of this, it pays to have the most up to date knowledge on what the ecommerce product manager job entails, what the ecommerce landscape looks like today, as well as how to leverage that into a rewarding career as an ecommerce product manager.