December 31, 2011, 12:00 AM

Retailers enter 2012 with visions of more e-commerce technology workers

Among web merchants of all sizes, the biggest personnel void is in software programmers, specialists in search engine marketing and site optimization, and web site designers, according to research compiled in Internet Retailer's new 2012 Complete Guide to E-Commerce Technology.

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With strong 2011 online sales behind them, many retailers are looking to expand their e-commerce technology staffs this year. In fact, hiring e-commerce workers is a top 2012 budgeting priority, according to Internet Retailer's recently published 2012 Complete Guide to E-Commerce Technology.

Research data in the Guide show that 54.6% of web merchants plan to expand their e-commerce staffs next year. Of those, 26.9% will add one new employee, 51.9% from two to five employees, 9.6% from five to 10 and 11.6% more than 10.

Most online retailers taking part in the research operate their e-commerce program with a small staff—29.2% have just one full-time employee, compared with 38.5% from two to five, 14.6% from five to 10, 4.2% from 10 to 20, 2.1% from 20 to 50 and 6.3% more than 50. (5.1% outsource e-commerce entirely and have no employees dedicated to the web.)

But regardless of their size most web merchants are looking to hire specialists, especially programmers. 36.1% of retailers say their biggest personnel need is for more programmers, followed by 20.6% whose top priority is hiring more search engine marketing or site optimization employees, and 19.6% needing more designers.

The top e-commerce decision-maker at 57.3% of companies participating in the survey published in the Guide is the CEO or president. But hiring more seasoned e-commerce professionals or bringing in talented newcomers that can be trained on the job is just one item on a big list of technology spending decisions the top e-retailing manager will make in 2012.

E-commerce executives will also be deciding how best to expand mobile commerce, fully integrate their e-commerce infrastructure and deploy a new platform. The survey finds 71.9% of merchants will invest more in mobile commerce next year, including 14.7% who will spend $100,000 or more on mobile shopping initiatives. 56.2% of merchants also expect to replace their e-commerce platform in the next 24 months, including 13.5% in the next year and 22.9% within six months.

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