The Best E-Commerce Jobs of 2002

The fact that the dot-com bubble has burst does not mean that e-commerce employment opportunities have gone down the drain with the suds.

Despite media attention on layoffs at high-tech companies, there is still plenty of opportunity in the e-commerce arena — and analysts predict high times for certain business segments.

So what are the best e-commerce jobs today? (Hint: They are not security-related; experts said the boom is over in the information security sector.)

E-Marketing Madness

Today’s hoopla centers on e-marketing, according to Aberdeen Group research director Kent Allen, and that bodes well for e-merchants.

With technology firms trotting out case studies that prove e-mail marketing and e-commerce investments are starting to pay off, online marketing pros are witnessing growing demand for their skills.

“Directors of e-commerce and online marketing staffers … are becoming the new e-rock stars, replacing the dot-com CEOs of yesteryear,” Allen told the E-Commerce Times.

On the low end of the scale, entry-level online marketers and creative directors are bringing home about US$25,000, according to experts, while savvy veterans at hot companies can draw more than $150,000 per year.

Uncharted Territory

Under the hood of the e-commerce arena, so to speak, are some exciting information technology (IT) positions that offer senior-level talent opportunities to lead retailers into uncharted territory.

The hottest jobs involve integrating Internet technologies into brick-and-mortar store environments, according to Forrester Research analyst Jim Crawford.

Dynamic displays on store shelves, for example, can send information wirelessly to shoppers’ handheld devices, alerting them to personalized offers on store merchandise.

“Integrating e-commerce in brick-and-mortar stores means a huge payoff for retailers,” Crawford told the E-Commerce Times. “And it’s pretty much a green field. Nobody is doing much beyond the basics there.”

New Ball Game

While there will always be a place for entry-level programmers, senior-level IT positions are most coveted because conceptual integration projects are developed on that level, analysts said.

Salaries for multimedia developers and application and network engineers run the gamut, but $50,000 is a good starting point, and senior Java developers rake in an average of $150,000 annually.

On the creative side of the industry, there are new opportunities for designers to develop innovative interfaces for Web browsers on handheld devices that receive in-store transmissions from offline retailers.

“No one has defined … the paradigm for dynamic displays on the shelf,” said Crawford, “so there is a lot of challenge and opportunity there.”

Forging the Future

Allen said he is seeing more automation of order management and fulfillment and inventory processes, and he expects those segments of e-commerce soon will offer additional opportunities.

Many e-commerce boundaries are being shattered or soon will be broken. But as e-commerce forges ahead, analysts said job applicants should remain wary, because wherever there are new opportunities there are always new obstacles.

“The strengths and the weaknesses of bringing e-commerce off the desktop are the same,” Crawford said. “The pro is that it’s a whole new ball game. The con is that it’s a whole new ball game. There are no best practices, no one to emulate.”

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