June 9, 2014, 1:07 PM

Salaries soar for e-commerce executives in China

And Chinese companies are also seeking more Westerners as they expand internationally.

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The e-commerce boom in China is creating a demand for experienced Chinese online retail executives from both Chinese and foreign companies, says Train Luo, the Shanghai-based managing partner for China at New York-based executive search firm CTPartners.

“The competition to recruit experienced managers in the e-commerce industry has become stiffer,” Luo tells Internet Retailer. “Experienced e-commerce operations managers are expected to be the most in-demand information technology executives in mainland China this year. Normally, enterprises like to offer a 25% increase in compensation when they poach talent, but in the e-commerce industry that number has jumped to 50%.”

Top international brands are now paying e-commerce directors $300,000 to $500,000 in annual salary, Luo says. Overseas companies have made great strides into China, he says, but they are finding it difficult to find experienced professionals who understand the complex Chinese market and speak fluent English. Only 5% of qualified Chinese executives speak English well, according to Luo.

At the same time, Chinese companies have also to expand their online sales internationally, and they are hiring more foreign executives. For example, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Inc. last year hired previous Google executive Hugo Barra to sell its products outside of China.  

“Several years ago, Chinese e-retailers still liked to hire Chinese when they explored the U.S. market,” Luo says. “Nowadays companies hope to hire someone who has working experience in a leading U.S. e-commerce company, such as Amazon.” Luo says Chinese companies no longer insist on foreign executives speaking Chinese.

“It is very hard to find a right candidate in Silicon Valley for Chinese e-retailers,” Luo says. But, he adds, “even for Google is not easy to recruit an experienced executive in Silicon Valley.”     





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