Spotlights

Job Description

The rise of e-commerce — the “buying and selling of goods or services via the Internet” — has dramatically altered both consumer behavior and the traditional roles of many employees in the retail sector. 
 
E-commerce Supply Chain Managers are in charge of directing and coordinating the production of products for sale through e-commerce businesses, as well as the actual purchasing, warehousing, and distribution processes. Linked to supply chain ops is logistics management, a separate but connected process involved with the “flow and storage of goods...between the point of origin and the point of consumption.” 
 
As if E-commerce Supply Chain Managers didn’t have enough on their plates, they also conduct financial forecasting aimed at reducing costs and boosting customer satisfaction and product safety. This is a complex, multidisciplinary career field that requires a high degree of coordination and collaboration skills to be successful. 

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • E-commerce Supply Chain Managers have busy days filled with a variety of activities
  • They help businesses turn profits while ensuring customers receive online orders promptly
  • They contribute to the global economy by sourcing parts and labor from around the world
  • Good pay
2020 Employment
137,600
2030 Projected Employment
149,400
The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities

Working Schedule

  • E-commerce Supply Chain Managers work full time, including frequent overtime as needed to keep business on schedule. 

Typical Duties

  • Manage the planning, purchasing, and storage of inventory
  • Determine cost-effective transportation/distribution routes and warehouse locations and specifications
  • Analyze supply chain metrics, develop and propose improvements to reduce waste and enhance efficiency
  • Coordinate sourcing and other efforts with associated teams such as finance, production, quality assurance, marketing, and others
  • Work closely with all vendors and other partners to ensure sufficient parts or services are available based on expected consumer demands
  • Negotiate agreeable terms with all third-party partners
  • Keep track of partner performance and activities regarding quality, accuracy, timeliness, and regulatory adherence; review, offer feedback and discuss changes
  • Ensure SCM practices are flexible enough to adapt to new strategies and opportunities

Additional Responsibilities

  • Map out physical processes (workflows, timelines, personnel hierarchies, etc.)
  • Use SCM models to aid in presentations and meetings
  • Find advanced technology, e-commerce-friendly solutions to enhance inventory tracking along supply routes
  • Calculate manpower and equipment needed for loading/unloading products
  • Help design environmentally-conscious “reverse logistics programs” 
  • Keep up-to-date on changes to organizational, local, state, federal, or international policies, laws, and regulations
  • Work with financial teams to determine budgets and cost lists

3 Responsibility Groups 

  • Logistics / Transport: Coordinates all aspects of the supply chain:
    • The plan or strategy
    • The source (of raw materials or services)
    • Manufacturing (focused on productivity and efficiency)
    • Delivery and logistics
    • The return system (for defective or unwanted products)
  • Demand / Planning: Forecasts and planning of the orders, as well as the management of suppliers.
  • Information Technology / Customer Service / Finance
Skills Needed on the Job

Soft Skills

  • Clear communication skills 
  • Critical-thinking 
  • Great customer service 
  • High degree of motivation
  • Organization and problem-solving skills
  • Resilience and composure 
  • Resourcefulness 
  • Skills for coordinating and instructing activities
  • Sound judgment and decision-making, sometimes under pressure

Technical Skills

  • Knowledge of several types of software, including:
    • Calendar and scheduling 
    • Cloud-based data access 
    • Database reporting 
    • Database user interface/query 
    • Enterprise resource planning  
    • Financial analysis  
    • Graphics  
    • Inventory management  
    • Materials requirements planning
    • Object-oriented development 
    • Process mapping
    • Procurement  
    • Project management  
    • Spreadsheets 
    • Supply chain management (SCM)
Different Types of Organizations
  • Federal government/military    
  • E-commerce companies     
  • Manufacturing
  • Wholesale trade    
Expectations and Sacrifices

The broad scope of E-commerce Supply Chain Managers’ duties put them into contact with people from around the world. The role can be fraught with challenges requiring patience, resilience, and fortitude in a fast-paced environment. 
 
It is critical to keep operations on schedule and to tackle issues as they come up. This may require long hours, with a commitment to coming in (or working remotely) at a moment’s notice if necessary. There may also be travel involved to visit production or distribution sites. 
 

Current Trends

E-commerce Supply Chain Managers can expect a steady job growth outlook according to O*Net Online. Many openings will occur simply as older workers retire or switch careers; other jobs will be created as e-commerce companies continue to crop up or expand. 
 
Timeliness of product delivery has become an increasingly critical factor, as consumer expectations have adjusted to faster (and sometimes same-day) deliveries offered by Amazon and other big companies. 
 
The Covid-19 pandemic also contributed to consumers becoming “accustomed to the conveniences that stay-at-home orders have brought to the table,” according to Business Wire.

What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were young...

E-commerce Supply Chain Managers were likely quite organized as kids and conscious of being on time and making deadlines. They were probably always comfortable using technology but equally adept at working with teams and directing the actions of others. 
 
They are tech-savvy, enjoy seeing things go as planned, and are ready to jump in and solve problems when those plans go off-track. 

Education and Training Needed
  • Due to the complexities of the role, E-commerce Supply Chain Managers generally need at least a bachelor’s degree to get started
    • Per O*Net, education level statistics reveal that 67% of all Supply Chain Managers hold at least a bachelor’s, 19% have a master’s, and 10% completed a graduate certification
    • Logistics, supply chain management, and business are common majors for those entering this field
  • Certifications are usually optional but can boost one’s odds of getting hired or promoted. Options include offerings from:
    • The Association for Supply Chain Management - Certified in Production and Inventory Management
    • The Institute for Supply Management - Certified Professional in Supply Management 
    • Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals - SCPro Level One: Cornerstones of Supply Chain Management 
  • New graduates may face the obstacle of discovering that employers want to see proof of previous related work experience. E-commerce Supply Chain Manager hopefuls can establish such credentials through internships or through working related jobs to garner hands-on experience
  • Expect localized On-The-Job training and perhaps vendor-specific training
Things to look for in a program
  • Future E-commerce Supply Chain Managers should look for accredited colleges offering reputable programs in their choice of major
  • It is advised to take courses beyond operations research or supply chain management to broaden your knowledge base in this diverse field
  • Don’t forget to brush up on people skills, with leadership and communications classes
  • Check out U.S. News’ Best Undergraduate Supply Chain Management / Logistics Programs to find top-ranked programs
    • Be sure to take courses focused on e-commerce SCM practices
  • Review the university’s website to learn more about enrollment and graduation numbers, as well as the program’s research areas and faculty 
  • If you need the flexibility of a fully online program, make sure your program isn’t a hybrid with any in-person, on-campus requirements
  • Look for schools that offer career resources and job placement help. Many programs have strong ties to local employers!
Things to do in High School and College
  • In high school, stock up on courses related to business, IT, marketing, and communications
  • Gain experience with managing processes by volunteering or applying to an internship at local agencies 
  • Schedule visits to local companies dealing with supply chain and logistics issues
  • Sign up for online certification programs early to start learning foundational concepts
  • Participate in professional organizations and start building connections
  • Get involved in college student associations related to SCM
  • Learn the roles and functions of all the players along the supply chain 
Typical Roadmap
E-Commerce Supply Chain Management Gladeo Roadmap
How to land your 1st job
  • To get hired, complete all your necessary educational requirements and get good grades, not just to show off your GPA but so you truly understand the principles of SCM
  • Try to gain as much practical work experience as possible through internships or other positions 
  • Read job advertisements very thoroughly; ensure you meet listed qualifications and can offer concrete examples on your resume
  • Take note of keywords written in ads; work those exact words into your application materials to help you get past automated tracking software!
  • Include details about your e-commerce work experiences, with numbers, dollar amounts, and the impact you made 
  • Search through employment portals like Indeed.com, Monster, and Glassdoor, and check out Google Careers and LinkedIn jobs 
  • ~80% of jobs are landed through networks, according to CNBC, so tell everyone you know that you’re job-seeking and share your portfolio online
  • Tap ex-supervisors and professors to write letters of recommendation or serve as reference points of contact
  • Stay abreast of new developments and learn the industry jargon. Study E-commerce SCM challenges and possible solutions, and be ready to discuss them in interviews
  • Hone your interview skills by researching sample SCM interview questions in advance 
How to Climb the Ladder
  • E-commerce Supply Chain Managers operate in a fast-paced, ever-evolving environment, so always keep up-to-date with new developments through continuing education and training
  • If you have your bachelor’s, enroll in a master’s program or complete applicable core and advanced certifications to show your devotion to staying ahead of the game 
  • Behave in a manner suitable for the job you want to obtain while staying true to your current position’s role and teammates
  • Own mistakes that are your fault, and put in the time and effort to get back on track
  • When confronted with a supply chain problem, offer tangible, detailed, research-backed solutions 
  • Be a leader and a team-builder. E-commerce SCM is built on human relationships, so treat every person with dignity and respect, while holding them accountable for getting the job done right
  • Do more than your routine day job. Study processes, learn as much as you can about your company’s supply and logistics issues and obstacles. Come up with ideas for improvement
  • Make a name for yourself by participating in professional organization conferences and meetings, writing articles, and mentoring others
Recommended Resources

Websites

  • AFCEA International 
  • Association for Supply Chain Management
  • Council of Logistics Engineering Professionals 
  • Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals 
  • Defense Acquisition University 
  • Institute for Supply Management 
  • International Society of Logistics 
  • LMI 
  • National Defense Industrial Association 
  • National Defense Transportation Association 
  • National Institute of Packaging, Handling, and Logistics Engineers 

Books

  • Essentials of Supply Chain Management, 4th Edition, by Michael H. Hugos
  • Operations and Supply Chain Management Essentials You Always Wanted to Know, by Vibrant Publishers
  • Strategic Supply Chain Management: The Five Core Disciplines for Top Performance, 2nd Edition, by Shoshanah Cohen and Joseph Roussel  
  • Supply Chain Management For Dummies, by Daniel Stanton
  • The Supply Chain Revolution: Innovative Sourcing and Logistics for a Fiercely Competitive World, by Suman Sarkar
Plan B

E-commerce Supply Chain Managers have demanding, often stressful jobs. They bear huge responsibilities to ensure the companies they work for keep on track delivering the goods to customers! BLS lists a few alternative careers to consider, in case E-commerce SCM isn’t your cup of tea after all: 
Cost Estimators    

  • Industrial Engineering Technologists and Technicians    
  • Industrial Engineers    
  • Industrial Production Managers    
  • Management Analysts    
  • Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners    
  • Operations Research Analysts    
  • Buyers, and Purchasing Agents    
  • Quality Control Inspectors    

O*Net Online lists additional options, including:

  • Purchasing Managers
  • Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers
  • Logistics Analysts  
  • Accountants and Auditors 

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Source: Interview, Bureau of Labor Statistics

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