Aplin Group Blog

When did you last receive a package in the mail? You're probably waiting for something to arrive any day now.

Most consumers are opting to shop online these days, and unsurprisingly, the pandemic has caused major disruptions in the retail industry. For businesses across Canada, sustainability is top of mind, and it's forcing them to adapt, be innovative, and invest in more technologies. Bringing products or services to the consumer market through online retail has never been more relevant than it is right now.

While e-commerce offers many opportunities for business growth and market expansion, breaking away from the traditional brick and mortar approach requires careful consideration of how it will shift labour needs. Determining an appropriate hiring strategy is the first critical step. What types of positions are needed, when to start hiring, where to source talent, and where to employ new staff? These questions can help uncover potential challenges.
Significant growth in the e-commerce market
Statistics Canada reports that Canadians now dedicate 10% of their spending to online purchases. But even before the COVID-19 outbreak, roughly 28 million Canadians made online purchases in late 2019. This clearly demonstrates significant demand for home delivery services is here to stay, even in a post-pandemic world. The appetite for online consumerism in Canada is evident.

Amazon alone saw a 40% growth in profits over the previous year, and in Q2 of 2020, where most companies were reporting record losses, Amazon saw a 48% increase in online sales. Food retail stores in Canada increased sales by 9.6% in just the first quarter of the year.

The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) advises that Canada's demand for digitally skilled talent is expected to reach 305,000 by 2023. In the past decade, employment within the digital economy has doubled the pace of growth of Canada's economy overall. But with all this growth and demand for digital skills, tech talent has become highly competitive and low in supply.
Most sought-after technical roles
It takes a village to build an effective e-commerce team. The most in-demand IT skills that support e-commerce are predominantly in project management, development, data science, and user experience (UX).

Project Management

Project Managers are a critical component to planning, executing and monitoring the success of an e-commerce program. Hiring PMs with a Project Management Professional (PMP) designation is recommended. Apart from organizational and communication skills, Project Managers should know Microsoft Office and be familiar with project management tools such as Asana or Trello. Experience with ERP systems (SAP) would be beneficial.


Software development is one of the most in-demand technical skills, particularly in e-commerce. Software Developers, Web Developers, or Java Developers oversee the development, maintenance, and improvements of e-commerce websites. Fluency in Java, Ruby, Python, and PHP are some of the most relevant languages required for developing sites that handle online transactions and sales.

User Experience (UX)

Offering online customers a seamless user experience is the ultimate goal for building a successful e-commerce business. This requires hiring UX Developers, UX Researchers, UX Designers and UX Specialists who are well versed in UX technologies and the latest trends. UX Designers improve user interface functionality for websites and apps. Typically, UX Specialists have expertise in JavaScript, Flash and Adobe Creative Suite programs.

Data Analytics

As leaders continue to depend more on data for scaling, strategic planning and making critical business decisions, demand for Data Analysts and Specialists is growing. When it comes to e-commerce, there is a wealth of useful data. Experts in roles such as Business Intelligence Analysts, Data Scientists, Data Analysts, and Data Engineers can extract consumer insights, predict trends, and provide leadership teams with indicators that will ultimately optimize business performance.
Continued crunch on available labour
IT talent has been and continues to be scarce. Typically, the technology sector sees one of the lowest unemployment rates, making it exceptionally difficult for companies to find and retain technical professionals. In 2019, Canada's ITC unemployment rate was merely 2.8%, nearly 3% lower than its overall unemployment rate. Finding the best Developers or Data Scientists is more challenging than searching for a needle in a haystack. 67% of recruiters say that finding top talent today is more difficult than it's ever been.

Contract staffing has been a useful alternative to permanent hiring, particularly in IT, where work is project-based. This gives employers the opportunity to onboard the very best and highly skilled for the short-term and allows IT professionals to apply their skills in multiple industries for various organizations.

Finding the right tech talent for your e-commerce project requires a strong employer brand. The Googles and Apples of the world are providing the most attractive job opportunities in technology. With the allure of Silicon Valley, Canada is experiencing a brain-drain in tech talent. The reality is that the technology sector is a candidate-driven market with high competition and low unemployment. Candidates are ultra-selective, so your project and your brand must stand out. And the hiring process has to move fast; otherwise, the tech specialist you seek will find employment elsewhere.

If your organization is implementing e-commerce solutions and hunting for the very best developers, PMs, or UX Designers, consider partnering with an experienced and reputable staffing firm like David Aplin Group. We've been providing information technology staffing services for 45 years. Our team of dedicated IT recruiters have built relationships with exceptional hard-to-find candidates who are ready to take on the next project.


David Aplin Group is a private family and employee owned Canadian staffing agency founded in Alberta in 1975, recognized as one of Canada's most accomplished recruiting firms. Our mission is to positively impact lives.  Blog author, Sarah Coyle, is a Business Development Manager at David Aplin Group, based in Toronto, Ontario.

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