Module: What departments are involved in ecommerce

Online business has become the norm for many organizations. Some were born into the digital environment, others had to quickly adapt or even reinvent themselves.

To contend with the challenges inherent in this high-speed business environment where the consumer rules, organizations need to get organized by creating the right internal structures. Setting up a digital structure capable of responding to your organization’s business needs in the best way possible is a huge challenge for a manager.


Online business touches most if not ALL departments within an organization. It should belong to more than just the marketing or IT department. Organizations have a tendency to take a narrow view of digital, which can be a serious mistake. So just how involved should each department and supplier be in this business reality?


  • Who should be responsible for the sales revenue generated by e-commerce?
  • Should the transactional site be seen as an additional store, knowing that it also generates sales in brick and mortar stores?
  • Who is in charge of the user experience?
  • Who is in charge of keeping the in-store experience and the online experience consistent? #omnichannel
  • Who is in charge of the operations linked to e-commerce?


Marketing is mostly creative and intuitive, whereas digital marketing is more technical and measurable. These two realities are in direct opposition, but they need to cohabitate. 

Other organizations delegated responsibility for e-commerce to the IT department. The logic seems simple – a website is technology! However, a website without any users or content isn’t terribly useful


Let’s say that a retail brand with a transactional website and a storefront wanted to set up an exclusive promotion for its best customers for 24 hours only.

  • The IT department would be involved to program the promotion on the platform, then monitor it.
  • The marketing department would be responsible for spreading the word about the initiative on various channels.
  • The purchasing department would need to forecast and maintain inventory.
  • The operations department would need to manage the volume of orders received as well as the supply chain for delivering orders.
  • There would be clients communicating with customer service (questions, problems, etc.) by phone and on Facebook.
  • The organization would then want to measure and analyze the impact of the online promotion on the overall profitability of the organization. Operational costs, media costs, net margins and delivery costs would need to be taken into account.


What is the miracle solution?

No miracles! There is no single solution, it’s really up to each organization to find the structure that works best for their particular business reality.


In the end, 4 things to remember:

  • Stop thinking of digital in a silo!
  • Prioritize a customer-first approach. Responsibilities related to e-commerce should include all points of contact with the customer, both online and in-store.
  • Online business should be integrated at the organization’s highest levels of decision-making (vision, mission, strategic goals).
  • An efficient organization must be agile enough to follow trends and innovate quickly.

Target group: Starter

Module level: Starter

Version | 31 - 07 - 2018

Part of course: Essentials of Ecommerce