E-Commerce Recruitment in 2021: What You Need to Know

Take a deep dive into the data behind e-commerce recruiting

Recruiting in the e-commerce industry is not for the faint of heart, especially after the rush of digitization in the industry because of COVID-19.


While the industry is still booming with almost limitless potential, the competition for top talent is now through the roof, making it more difficult than ever to find, connect with and hire elite candidates.


As with most obstacles in life, the best way to overcome this challenge is to better understand what you’re up against and seek a little inspiration from other people that have found success.


In that spirit, we’ve created this guide to provide a primer on the e-commerce industry, identify the most in-demand e-commerce roles and cover a few examples of e-commerce companies that are nailing recruitment.




E-Commerce is on the rise as consumers opt for the convenience and safety of online shopping over going to a store in person. These new purchasing habits have shone a light on how much consumers value convenience and digital options to fulfill their shopping needs.


E-Commerce Has Gone Global


Thanks to low barriers to entry and relatively affordable shipping costs, e-commerce companies are popping up all over the world. This is good news from a business perspective, but it also means you’re competing for talent on a global scale. Market research firm CB Insights mapped the e-commerce industry by country to paint a more complete picture.


Image via CB Insights

Despite the mass of e-commerce giants in the U.S., China holds the title for largest producer of e-commerce companies with at least $100 million in funding. China accounts for 36 percent of these companies, followed by the U.S. at 29 percent and India at 14 percent.


E-Commerce Funding Is Still Hot


In recent years, Angel and Seed e-commerce funding has gradually declined from 53 percent to 38 percent while more aggressive Series, like A, B and E+ are experiencing growth — a sign that the industry is maturing.


With plenty of money available, successful e-commerce companies are able to grow at breakneck speed, placing further pressure on the labor market.


Image via CB Insights


The E-Commerce Job Market


Much has been said of the so-called death of brick and mortar retail of late, but those predictions appear to be very premature. Despite all its success, the e-commerce industry accounts for less than 10% of all retail sales in the United States.


But that statistic belies that outsized impact e-commerce has had on the labor market. While it may still be a smaller piece of the total retail pie, e-commerce employment grew more than any other retail vertical over the past 15 years, creating 178,000 new jobs.



Image via Bureau of Labor Statistics

E-commerce companies and jobs tend to remain in large metropolitan areas in the United States, and they require fewer workers to reach higher productivity margins. Also, e-commerce companies pay on average 26% more than their general retail counterparts.


The Most In-Demand Roles in E-Commerce



To successfully recruit in the e-commerce space, you must first understand the supply and demand fundamentals driving the sector’s labor market. We analyzed e-commerce job data from seven of our local communities to better understand the trends driving the marketplace today.


At the highest level (we’ll go into more detail below), we found that five disciplines account for more than 75 percent of the open roles in the e-commerce industry, making them the most in-demand positions.


Software Engineering

Per our analysis, more than 32 percent of the open positions in the e-commerce industry are for software engineers. This makes sense, given the nature of the space. E-commerce platforms do business online, and without software engineers the industry simply wouldn’t exist.

Of course, software engineering is a broad discipline that encapsulates a wide array of unique sub-traits, so we dug a little deeper to determine the most in-demand languages and frameworks as indicated by their inclusion in job descriptions:



As brick and mortar retail continues to decline, especially because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for e-commerce companies to make up for lost revenue increases. This leads to more aggressive goals and revenue benchmarks, which requires sales team support.


This is validated by our data, which found nearly 14 percent of the open roles in the e-commerce space are for sales positions.


As with software engineering, we were able to dig deeper to determine which specific roles are the most in demand:

Data & Analytics


As of today, more than 11 percent of the open roles in the e-commerce industry are for data and analytics positions, but you can expect that number to grow. As e-commerce companies become more sophisticated, they continue to utilize data in new and creative ways, making the discipline even more important.


Again, we examined the broader category in depth to identify the most in-demand skill sets and found the following results:



As told, nearly 11 percent of the open roles in the e-commerce industry are for marketing positions. Given the transactional nature of e-commerce, this should come as no surprise. Afterall, a steady stream of new customers is critical to the success of most e-commerce companies.




Last but not least, product roles account for more than 6 percent of the open roles in the e-commerce industry. As the need for innovation continues to rise in the consumer shopping experience, so does the need for a team of experts to make these advancements happen. That’s where a product team comes in. These roles are key to helping e-commerce companies stay at the forefront of the industry and meet consumers’ digital standards.





Looking to fill some in-demand roles at your company? Check out how these nine e-commerce companies attract top candidates for their open roles.


Pampered Chef Reassures Candidates


Image via Pampered Chef


Pampered Chef is direct with candidates by showcasing a “We’re Hiring” badge on their Built In Company Profile. During an unprecedented event like COVID-19, being up front about whether or not your company has open positions is much appreciated by candidates who are facing a tough job market.


MeUndies Lets Its Employees Do The Talking


Image via MeUndies


MeUndies addresses frequently asked questions from candidates and allows its employees to respond. This offers candidates insight into what it’s like to work at a company from those who experience it every day. It provides a much more transparent look at the company.


Casper Makes A Connection Right Away

Image via Casper


The first thing Casper shares with candidates is its company mission. This immediately draws in candidates who relate to what the company is trying to achieve and allows those who aren’t a good fit to disengage. It’s a smart strategy to not only get candidates interested in working for you but also to weed out those that aren’t going to be as engaged with your company culture.




Grubhub Showcases Its Perks & Benefits

Image via Grubhub


Grubhub participated in an article with Built In about how remote work affected its perks and benefits. In the article, the company shares that its in-office benefits didn’t go away. Instead, they were improved to better fit a remote working environment. Emphasizing this adjustment shows candidates that the company is always thinking about its employees and how best to support them no matter what comes their way.


The RealReal Puts Tech First


Image via The RealReal


A company’s tech stack is a big factor for technology candidates when choosing their next employer. The RealReal leans into this fact by sharing the technology it uses within the organization. This gives candidates a quick way to assess whether or not they want to apply for a role at the company.


RetailMeNot Emphasizes Its Core Values


Image via RetailMeNot


RetailMeNot knows how important its core values are to the organization and makes sure candidates know exactly what they are before applying. By making its core values stand out, candidates get a sense of what’s important to the organization and if it aligns with their own values.


Nordstrom Makes Its Culture Known


Image via Nordstrom


Remote or not, candidates still want to know what it’s like to work at your company. Nordstrom gives them just that by dedicating an entire page on its Built In Company Profile to its office culture. Even while remote, this way of working is still present within the broader organization. Exploring this page gives candidates a sense of not only what they can expect while working remotely but how things will be once employees are back in the office.


HomeChef Promotes Team Building


Image via HomeChef


HomeChef dedicated an entire Built In article to how it has kept the team connected while working remotely. Candidates who read this article not only get insight into how the company’s culture might have changed while working remotely but also understand the value HomeChef places on staying connected as a team.


Chewy Highlights Employee Testimonials

Image via Chewy


Chewy knows that candidates want to hear from employees, so the company made it happen. Highlighting testimonials from employees across different departments offers candidates new perspectives on what it’s like to be a part of the chewy team.


While these examples are great inspiration for your recruitment strategy, you know what makes your organization unique. Tap into these attributes to stand out when recruiting top talent. Candidates will appreciate the authenticity and effort you’re putting in to connect with them before they even apply to work for you.