GUIDE 2022

How to Become an eCommerce Product Manager Without Experience

Becoming an eCommerce product manager requires a specific set of skills and experiences. However, the most important aspect is a good understanding of product management, regardless of your background.

Common skills among eCommerce product managers include being able to do market research, run an online store, craft a product strategy, and develop customer roadmaps for websites.

Running an eCommerce company also requires a working knowledge of how websites work, digital marketing, and retail. However, the strategic responsibilities weigh on product management.

It’s easy to learn the hard skills you need but mastering the soft skills requires experience.

Regardless of whether you’re on your way to a career change or starting from scratch, the following five steps are going to set you up to become an eCommerce product manager. 

  1. Learn the basics of product management 
  2. Get familiar with the eCommerce process
  3. Study your industry and business niche 
  4. Develop the right skill set through experience 
  5. Complete relevant certifications and courses 

To learn via video, watch below. Otherwise, skip ahead.

Learn the Basics of Product Management 

Learning product management requires you to understand how to develop, build, and maintain digital or physical products. In this case, the product is the site itself.

Today, product managers need to have an idea of business administration, UX, and technology. It helps build the fundamental technical skills you need to excel at product management. 
Product Management
True product management is about bringing the trio of business aspects together. That includes: 

  1. The business itself, including sales, marketing, legal, and other aspects. 
  2. Your users and customers, including existing and potential ones. 
  3. The developers and product teams, including engineers, designers, and product owners. 

The product is at the center of this triangle and product management is about keeping them together. That means, for example, product managers have to ensure the engineering team and marketing team are on the same page.

Furthermore, product management requires you to have basic analytical skills. It helps notice quality market trends using competitive analysis and research. Other than that, you have to look at quantitative data from historical metrics and qualitative data from customer feedback and user research.

On top of that, a lot of companies today work with the agile development process. Therefore, product managers also need to learn agile practices.

Furthermore, a large part of product management is also about managing the product feature backlog. That includes new feature development, updating existing features, and prioritizing them. 

Get Familiar With the eCommerce Process 

After you have some product management experience, it’s important to understand how eCommerce products/websites work. For that, work with online retailers,  manage your own store, or help launch a store.

In any case, you need to understand how the eCommerce process works from its inception to the customer. The good thing is that there are a lot of ways to get this experience. 
Product Development Framework
Work as a project manager, digital marketer, or even an account executive to get the right experience. However, it’s better to get familiar from a product perspective.

Moving on, there are a few things about the eCommerce world that you need to master. 

  • Competitive Advantages – There are way too many eCommerce businesses so it’s important to offer certain unique benefits. This includes anything from loyalty schemes to free shipping:
  • Customer Loyalty – Encouraging customer loyalty is key to any eCommerce business’s success. 
  • Organization – Good organization is crucial as you’ll be managing multiple tools, SKUs, product lines, and teams. 
  • Growth-Marketing Mindset – Scaling an eCommerce business requires a robust growth-marketing mindset. 
  • Testing – It’s crucial to know how to test various strategies, UX designs, and more. 

On top of that, you also need to understand things like email marketing, SEO, and online development. 

Study Your Industry and Business Niche 

After you have a good idea about product management and understand how eCommerce businesses work, you have to start specializing in a certain niche.

First, you need to decide on a single industry. For a starter role, work in any industry to get some experience.

However, once you have a couple of years of experience, you need to start specializing in a certain industry.

Furthermore, when you have an industry, you have to find a market niche within that industry. That’s only possible if you have a good understanding of the existing industry.

When you’re an expert in your niche, you have an automatic upper hand. This is helpful for people looking to become an eCommerce product manager after a career change. Utilize your existing knowledge of an industry or niche and build your career path according to it. 

Develop the Right Skillset Through Experience 

While learning product management and eCommerce processes, you need to pick up a few hard and soft skills.

The following are some key skills you need to master: 

  • Communication and collaboration skills
  • Prioritization skills
  • Data analytics skills
  • eCommerce tech software skills
  • Product management skills
  • Market research skills 
  • Customer wireframing skills

 Complete Relevant Certifications and Courses 

Having a bachelor’s degree in business administration, operations management, or another field is helpful when starting out. Having a master’s degree sets you up for an even better position.

However, if you don’t have a relevant degree, still back up your skills. Opt for an advanced diploma or a vocational diploma.

Furthermore, consider attending a product management bootcamp. On top of that, you need to complete certifications and courses.

It also helps you formalize your skills and help you learn the nuisances of the job. 

What is the eCommerce Product Manager Salary? 

According to Glassdoor, the average eCommerce product manager salary in the US is $121,749.

The salary range is between $53,000 and $288,000. 

How do you Become an eCommerce Product Manager Without Experience 

If you don’t have any prior product management experience, there are different ways to work your way toward the eCommerce PM job.

If you’re starting out your professional career, it helps to design a custom career path. For that, start with an associate product manager position or work at an eCommerce store. In any case, working with an eCommerce product gets your relevant experience.

Learning about digital products, developing them, and maintaining them also helps you on your career path.

If you’re opting for a career change, you do not need to work an entry-level job. Instead, join a product management bootcamp to start learning the fundamentals. Meanwhile, complete courses on eCommerce stores.

There’s a good chance you already have the necessary soft skills. Therefore, your major efforts need to be on technical skills. That also includes understanding how eCommerce tech works, including plugins, CMSs, website analytics, and more.

You don’t need to learn to code but knowing how it works helps.

Another important step is to learn customer research, testing, revenue modeling, and agile processes. All these things are bound to help in your day-to-day matters. 

What Does it Take to Become a Great eCommerce Product Manager? 

Beyond certain hard and soft skills, eCommerce product managers need to have some characteristics that help them excel in their jobs. 

  • Sense of Timing – A good sense of timing is crucial when setting up the product roadmap. Furthermore, when you have to deliver accurate release plans, you need to be able to time everything with precision. 
  • eCommerce Business Strategy – Having a good idea of how to scale eCommerce businesses, set goals, and grow them into different markets helps. 
  • Project Management – As an eCommerce product manager, you must run several projects at the same time. That’s why having great project management skills help maintain the task calendar and backlog. 
  • Trustworthiness – To have influence without authority, you need to seem trustworthy. You have to lead with the power of your ideas and have to convince your team of the vision you have. 

Furthermore, having a good idea about budgeting, compliance, and business requirements also helps. 

Become an eCommerce Product Manager Today

For people who have prior experience in product management or eCommerce store management, becoming an eCommerce PM is simpler.

You don’t have to get relevant experience in entry-level positions. After getting the right certifications and courses, jump into the role.

Alternatively, for someone starting anew, start with an entry-level role in a fast-moving environment to get relevant experience, skills, and knowledge. 

Josh Fechter
Josh Fechter is the co-founder of Product HQ, founder of Technical Writer HQ, and founder and head of product of Squibler. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.