Talent shortage in Indian ecommerce

4 November 2014

NEW DELHI: The speed at which India's ecommerce sector is growing has exposed a shortage of top-level talent, with many leading players now looking to headhunt staff from the US.

"We are compelled to look at Silicon Valley and are in the process of shortlisting a few names for our clients," Myank Pande, partner at executive search business Amrop India, told The Times of India.

These clients include brick-and-mortar chains looking to build or strengthen their ecommerce units, as well as online pure-plays, with senior executives being sought in fields like marketing, design and product management.

The trend was confirmed by Vikram Chhachhi, a principal at the Mumbai office of executive search firm Heidrick and Struggles, who noted "the existing domestic pool of talent in the technology and supply chain relevant for these companies is scarce", and warned "many companies will soon go bust if they fail to attract best talent".

In many respects, the current situation mirrors that in India's software sector just over ten years ago. "Many Indians overseas sensing opportunities returned to join the software wave," said Sangeeta Gupta, svp at IT services business Nasscom. "Just this time the industry has changed to ecommerce."

Another difference is that the focus of recruitment activity has changed, as it involves both wooing back Indians who have moved abroad and tapping foreign experts keen to ride India's ecommerce growth wave.

According to Avdesh Mittal, of talent consultants Korn Ferry, "India is the future of ecommerce and foreigners are only too delighted to have India on their resume."

But one leading industry figure cautioned against getting carried away with the ecommerce bubble.

"The euphoria should last for six-to-18 months, then it will be over," said Kishore Biyani, head of retail conglomerate the Future Group, told a recent conference. "You can't live in the euphoria and reality will set in."

Data sourced from The Times of India, Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff