Buying is the head
Without the right assortment, procurement and suppliers you won’t make it far. Buying is the trickiest of all departments because it is the most analytic and interdisciplinary one. Often this position is seriously underestimated. Reality is that the buying MD is always the one who holds the power in the company and secretly she directs where it is headed .
Ops is the heart
Not being able to deliver on time or not delivering at all kills a company. Ops is more than logistics, it is about customer care, about delivering the right items in perfect condition to the right customer at the right time. Good ops is critical for good customer experience. Bad customer care kills complete cohorts and creates a long-lasting bad reputation for the company. People also often underestimate ops. Ops people need to be super hands-on, be willing to get dirty and work directly on the warehouse (if needed even help packing items).
Marketing are the legs
It is a known thumb metric that one euro spent in marketing equals one euro in revenue. Marketing decides to which speed the company will move and how far it will make it. You can surpass competitors with a strong marketing budget but you can also optimize your burn rate by cutting on marketing. This is usually the sexy position in E-commerce. Everybody wants to do marketing. But they often forget that in this industry it is very numbers-driven.
BI is the nervous system
It is everywhere and you require it for everything. It tells you where it feels good and where it is painful, of you are starting to get sick or you are healthy. BI is not a department, but a function which every department needs. Every person with some responsibility needs “BI skills”, be able to drill data and make sense out of it. Best teams are those who can pull the reports by themselves and take immediate actions instead of waiting for the central BI department to deliver for them something that they will probably don’t understand.
IT are the muscles
You can survive being wimpy and skinny but it will only bring you so far. If your system breaks down after 20 orders a day, for sure you will never market it to the big leagues. Yet, interestingly, perfect beautiful IT is not they key for e-commerce success. Good is enough (and with that I mean often Magento will take you far enough). Just as you don’t need to be a bodybuilder to be successful with girls.
What do you think? Which other department is critical for e-commerce success?