E-Commerce Organization | ASK Answers | All MKC Content | ANA

E-Commerce Organization


How are companies organizing e-commerce?

E-commerce isn't new — and it's how countless people already buy products because it's easier, faster, and virtually accessible. People simply don't need to depend on retail locations anymore. The most successful brands invest millions in e-commerce, from technology to content development optimization and strategies.

This means marketers need to prioritize the right tools, talent, and need for innovation. When it comes to innovating around e-commerce, brands need to allow failure to happen to test what works and what doesn't, which involves social listening and the right data infrastructure and ecosystem.

To succeed, companies need to fulfill — and anticipate — consumers' needs. When it comes to telecommunications and e-commerce, brands need the best business-grade services that are seamless, easy, and intuitive.

Christopher Thomas-Moore, VP of digital marketing and global e-commerce at Domino's, stressed the importance of testing, allowing failure, and finding ways to innovate to better the consumer journey and experience, stating at ANA conferences in 2019, "We do a ton of social listening and have a few different platforms we leverage. We leverage [social media] to get an understanding of the conversations going on. We also do a lot of quantitative and qualitative research to get directly to customers and understand what's going on in their lives and how we can improve it."

Thomas-Moore also added, "It starts with culture. You have to build a willingness to accept failure. That being said, we do a ton of research before trying these things. When we're in the ideating process, it's not that we're always thinking about tech, though we know we can execute on those items. We're thinking about those cultural, customer, and category tensions, which guide us into what we should be pursuing, as opposed to forcing technology."

The ASK research team has curated best practices, industry research, and case studies showcasing companies that have built successful e-commerce programs.

Models for E-Commerce Organizational Structure

  • E-Commerce Best Practice Guide.
    The chapter titled "People" advises, "Structure should always follow strategy." The guide includes two hypothetical org structures and discusses lines of reporting. It also says, "The most straightforward way to structure an e-commerce team is to think in terms of the business drivers of an e-commerce site." It lists six drivers of e-commerce business: 1) Product; 2) Brand & Content; 3) Marketing; 4) Trading & Conversion; 5) Operations; and 6) Fulfillment. Per the report, "Each of these six drivers must have domain experts leading them. These 'vertical' drivers, or pillars, are supported by the horizontal roles of finance, HR, technology, as well as data, which sits in the front and underpins the whole e-commerce business."

How can we help you? Submit a request to Ask the Expert here.

  • Building a High-Performance E-Commerce Organization.
    There is no single universal and overarching answer for how to organize around e-commerce. Nor is there a single "right" answer for where e-commerce should report, says Profitero. Also discussed:
    • What makes a successful digital commerce leader
    • Where e-commerce should report
    • How to determine, allocate, and grow dedicated headcount
    • Balancing in-sourcing versus outsourcing to brokers, agencies, and consultants
    • Critical workstreams
    • Common roles and responsibilities needed to succeed
  • Six Governing Considerations to Modernize Marketing.
    McKinsey & Company
    This paper discusses flexibility and culture change, as well as meeting talent demands. Two examples from e-commerce companies are cited:
    • One large e-commerce company has mostly given up on classical marketing functions, such as brand strategy, communications planning, and campaign management. Instead it has set up a community for data-driven marketing. Strategists, creative designers, and data specialists work closely together, and different people roll on or off the team depending on momentary requirements. In such a setting, the CMO has the flexibility to reallocate capacity and skills quickly to the most promising growth opportunities, leading to increased responsiveness and proximity to the customer at all times while increasing employee satisfaction through diversity of responsibility and increased accountability.
    • A leading e-commerce company . . . dissolved its central martech department and distributed its specialists to individual teams. This move reinforced the cultural shift from reporting to respective departments to sharing responsibility for a team and leveraging expertise where it is needed. These teams are measured by the success of the product or service—incentives that reinforce the collaborative culture and have led to a surge in new ideas by newly empowered employees.

How can we help you? Send your marketing questions to Ask the Expert here.

  • E-Commerce Insights.
    ANA Survey Research
    This survey asked about elements of org structures. In-house e-commerce departments cover a range of responsibilities for their companies. Ninety-five percent are involved with setting e-commerce strategy and 77 percent are responsible for e-commerce user experience. Only 36 percent of respondents indicated that their e-commerce departments are involved in sales via a third-party retailer like Amazon or Walmart.

  • E-Commerce Marketing Org Chart.
    In addition to the above chart, RevelOne's site offers a few tips and considerations for org chart development. About this chart they explain: "The RevelOne Marketing Org Chart for E-Commerce represents a snapshot of frequently used org design in a well-developed e-commerce business. While not the exact model for everyone, it can be a useful rule of thumb." The chart also includes goals and important considerations for each department and functional role.

E-Commerce Roles & Titles

  • Role Framework for E-Commerce.
    This framework details common role archetypes, provides information on how to choose role title and level, and discusses how to select role priorities and skills.

E-Commerce Case Studies

  • How Pizza Hut Is Building an In-House Customer Experience Team
    Digiday, May 2019
    Pizza Hut spent 18 months building a team of marketers who can use data gleaned from people visiting its sites to create services like chatbots as well as find new audience segments to target. The bulk of the roles are split across user experience, data analytics, design, and computer programming. There are some of the team who specialize in performance marketing across social media, search, and email – roles that were previously provided by its agencies. Although the digital ventures team sits within the wider marketing one, it has a separate area of responsibility. However, both teams share many of the same KPIs: customer acquisition, conversion, and retention.

  • Analytics, Organizational Structure, and Capitalizing on Location Data
    ANA Event Recap, September 12, 2018
    In Q4 2017, Office Depot was in decline, closing stores and losing market share. In response, the brand undertook two important organizational adjustments. The efficiencies made possible by this reorg enabled the brand to capitalize on digital marketing opportunities that it had formerly ignored. The company:
    • Combined its marketing and e-commerce divisions under a single "E-Mark" umbrella.
    • Consolidated ownership of and accountability for data and metrics with its Analytics Center of Excellence. This move increased the consistency of data, which in turn increased the speed of the organization's decision-making.
  • Why Sephora Merged Its Digital and Physical Retail Teams into One Department
    Digiday, April 6, 2018
    Sephora reorganized its marketing and commerce operations to reflect how customers shop—namely, both online and in-store. Sephora combined its in-store and digital teams and transformed the way it treated sales metrics, engagements, and experiences across channels. This strategy marked another step in the evolution of the company's approach to digital (see Harvard Business Review's previous exploration of this).

The Marketing Knowledge Center actively connects ANA members to the resources they need to be successful in any marketing environment.

  • Explore content to access best practices, case studies, and marketing tools. Our proprietary content includes Event Recaps, which share actionable insights from conference and committee presentations.
  • Connect with our ASK team for customized answers to your specific marketing challenges.

How can we help you? Submit a request to Ask the Expert here.


"E-Commerce Organization." ANA, June 2020.