We caught up with Matt Wilkinson – Global Head of eCommerce at Maker & Son, to get his take on leading an eCommerce team during 2020. Matt also shares with us his thoughts on the skills needed to be successful in eCommerce, as well as his predictions for the industry moving forward.
Thanks so much for your time in sharing your wisdom with us – it’s much appreciated in what must be a busy time. Your knowledge and expertise will help others in the industry massively.
Stacey: “Hi Matt, how would you summarise your career to date which brings you to your current role of Head of eCommerce at Arlo and Jacob?”
Matt: “I’ve been lucky to have had such an interesting career to date. I originally started life agency-side as a Graphic Designer, and worked with some great brands, but have always had a passion for computers and tech. When multimedia came along in the in the 90’s I was in my element; creating great designs for product launches and CD Roms (if you remember them)! Then came the web! I designed and built my first commercial website in 1995 and then set up my own web design agency in 1997. In the presiding years I designed and built in excess of 200 websites from small businesses to FTSE 100 companies. I sold the agency in 2004 and took some time off before moving in-house which was an interesting change. I have been lucky enough to work with some amazing companies over the past few years – most notably Allianz, Gatwick Airport and The Gym Group”.
Stacey: “How have you needed to adapt your approach during 2020?”
Matt: “For me, my approach hasn’t changed that much, ecommerce and digital marketing are still largely the same, but what has changed is the consumer confidence and consumer appetite to purchase online. I believe that website performance is crucial right now. Analytics and data are key in order to be able to analyse, reflect and then predict what could potentially impact you moving forward. The update in the Google algorithm next year will be an interesting one, that’s for sure. The only other approach is the need for a great internet connection for all those video conference calls, the best thing I did was buy a decent webcam back at the beginning of the year”.
Stacey: “In your opinion, what are the most important skills right now in order for an eCommerce team to be successful?”
Matt: “Awareness and Adaptability. To remain opened minded and be ready for anything. There are so many ways of doing things online these days. Stay well informed and well organised. I personally am a huge fan of Trello and have used it in many different environments. It’s a great way to make sure the team are always aware of what is happening. This is especially the case with so many teams working remotely right now”.
Stacey: “What would your advice be for someone looking to establish a career in eCommerce right now?”
“Immerse yourself in the digital ecosystem. Try and find a great eCommerce team and be as hands-on with as many aspects as possible. Most people either come from a marketing or IT background, so you can come at it from a digital marketing perspective, and if you’re a bit of tech fan then you can delve deep into the technical side. I personally think that you need to have an understanding and appreciation for all sides”.
Stacey: “How has the sudden move to remote working impacted upon you and your team?”
Matt: “I’ve been lucky in the sense that I’ve been working remotely in one capacity or another for over 15 years. From my first video to call to our team in India in 2004, to a zoom call today. And to be honest, it still has the same challenges as we did all those years ago. Platforms like Zoom and Teams are great, and if used well you can be anywhere in the world. But nothing beats a face to face workshop and I’m looking forward to when we have those more freely”.
Stacey: “And finally, how do you see the eCommerce industry changing/evolving in 2021?”
Matt: “It’s always evolving in one way or another, which is what makes this industry so great to be in. But personally, I believe that the need to be more data-centric will mean that those in the industry will need to upskill rapidly. Similarly to my point before, it’s essential that those working in the industry are familiar with the marketing and tech aspects of the role, as we are moving towards a much more integrated world, especially as retailers move to true omni-channel.