Assignment 2 — possible interview questions in careers in e-commerce


As you’ve learned in Chapter 9 “Online Retail and Services”, the traditional store-based retail business is in trouble as more shoppers buy online. While some retailers such as Walmart, Target, Costco, and Dick’s Sporting Goods have bucked the trend, major retail chains such as Macy’s, Sears, and JCPenney are in the process of closing hundreds of their stores. Many older malls have closed and many niche retailers have declared bankruptcy. But while retail store sales have flattened or declined, online retail is growing at 10%. To cope with online competitors, stored-based retailers are turning to omni-channel strategies by investing heavily in new websites, mobile apps, and social media, and mobile apps, encouraging in-store shopping and online buying, and same-day local pickup of online orders.

As a result, there are an increasing number of jobs involved in retail e-commerce. For example, from 2007 to 2017 almost 400,000 new jobs were created in retail e-commerce, compared to an overall loss of 76,000 in traditional store-based retail. E-commerce jobs also have higher wages, paying about 30% more than traditional retail jobs (Sorkin, 2017).


The company is a luxury fashion retailer and department store that operates over 260 stores throughout the United States and Canada. The company sells apparel, shoes, jewelry, handbags, and home furnishings. The firm has several websites, including a clearance site, and a focused luxury site for designer fashions, as well as a Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest presence. While sales at its stores have languished along with other retailers, its website sales are growing at 10% annually, and currently account for about 20% of its retail sales. The company is planning a major expansion of its online digital operations to compete with pure online retailers and to develop a more robust omni-channel presence.

POSITION: ASSOCIATE, E-COMMERCE INITIATIVES You will be working on the E-commerce Initiatives Team with a number of internal departments to ensure the delivery of an effective online customer experience and driving e-commerce revenues.

Responsibilities include:

  • Gathering and analyzing web metric information and making recommendations to further improve the customer experience and sales to adjust strategies and programs.
  • Recommending and managing the development of supplemental website content/sections.
  • Advocating for best practices and new industry trends and opportunities for increased web sales and online branding.
  • Working with internal teams to identify and implement commerce-related opportunities.
  • Analyzing consumer journeys. • Working with site designers to enhance the customer experience and optimize the digital platforms to push customers through the sales funnel, drive conversion, and increase repeat visitors.
  • Supporting the business by using qualitative and quantative analytical insights to help drive on-site optimization.
  • Leveraging website analytics to support customer experience optimization, including but not limited to product page, navigation, and SEO/SEM search across various digital platforms.
  • Collaborating with the e-commerce and marketing teams to identify opportunities around mobile and social network features such as recommendations, reviews, and algorithms.


  • Bachelor’s degree in business or marketing with course work in e-commerce, statistics, and information systems.
  • Experience or knowledge of consumer online marketing strategies
  • Knowledge of social and mobile marketing tools
  • Understanding of site navigation, consumer pathways, and user interface design
  • Knowledge of e-commerce site reporting tools and the metrics of e-commerce performance
  • Ability to work well across multiple departments and independently
  • Excellent analytical skills and problem solving ability
  • Strong planning and organizational skills
  • Excellent written and verbal communication
  • Strong team player and leadership qualities

Please provide your answers to following four possible first interview questions:

  1. Why do you think sites like Amazon have been so successful with consumers?
  2. We’re planning on developing a powerful omni-channel capability that would allow consumers to combine online and in-store shopping and purchasing, including same-day pickups at our stores. What do you think are the key success factors for this effort? What are some of the challenges?
  3. How can we best use social networks and mobile platforms to drive sales?
  4. Our focus is on luxury products that are differentiated from other mass market retailers, online and offline. How should this influence our m-commerce efforts?

Hint: how to prepare for this interview?

Do background research on the firm and the industry in which it operates. How does it compare to competitors?

Re-read the opening case on Blue Nile, as well as Sections 9.1 and 9.3 (with a particular focus on the sections that cover omni-channel retail).

Also review Section 9.2 so that you can demonstrate some basic knowledge of strategic and financial analysis. It would also be worthwhile to closely review the E-commerce in Action case on Amazon, as understanding Amazon and the impact it has is imperative for anyone working in online retail.

Finally, re-read the Insight On case in Chapter 6 on marketing to the luxury audience (“Are the Very Rich Different from You and Me?”) to understand the success factors, and challenges, of online marketing to an affluent audience. Do back-ground research on the luxury goods marketplace, and marketing to the affluent.

In “Files”, you can find the opening case on “Blue Nile” and “Are the Very Rich Different from You and Me?”

Please try your best, -Professor Dai
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