Career Guides: How to Get Into Online Retail

Online retail is a great career! If you’re looking for a fast-paced environment which breathes innovation then online retail is the place for you

About Online Retail

Online retail, also commonly referred to as ecommerce, in short, is internet shopping. The sector continues to grow despite the coronavirus pandemic as physical stores have been forced to close at times due to lockdown. The sector itself is packed full of opportunities for graduates who are interested in joining a dynamic environment which combines digital with retail.

There are many businesses who only trade online, whereas others trade instore and online and few just instore. As an economy our internet usage keeps increasing, especially during the pandemic, when people have been unable to leave the house, this has seen a spike in sales for online retailers, where shopping is more accessible than instore. 

What Can I Do?

There is a wealth of career opportunities available in online retail, it’s all about finding the right fit for you. Whether you’re interested in buying and merchandising, digital marketing or even warehouse and distribution, there is so much choice for you to explore. 

Working in online retail presents you with the opportunity to explore careers closely linked to digital too – something which is increasingly important in this day and age. You could be working in digital marketing, helping to get the word out about your product through social media, email marketing, PPC, paid advertising, display advertising or content marketing. 

You could also be working towards optimising the sites SEO to ensure your product ranks higher in search results for important keywords related to the product. Alternatively, you could start a lucrative career in user experience, where you’ll be pitching ideas, plans and designs to make the site more user friendly then the designers and web developers will put this into action.

Graduate Online Retail Careers

Some of the roles available include:

  • Buying and merchandising
  • Digital marketing
  • Web development
  • Warehouse and distribution
  • Advertising

This sector is closely related to transport, distribution and logistics. Take a look at our blog to find out more about the distribution sector.

Online Retail Skills

There are a wide range of skills which will come in useful in online retail. These skills include:

  • An understanding of ecommerce
  • Commercial awareness
  • IT/computer skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Customer service
  • Creativity
  • Innovation

Don’t worry about having every single sector specific skill, you’ll develop these on the job as you become more advanced and gain more experience.

Online Retail Training


Internships are the perfect opportunity for you to get your foot in the door with some real hands on experience in online retail

Whichever area you’re keen to pursue will depend on what exactly you will be doing but one thing for sure – it’s guaranteed to give your CV a boost!


Although not essential, volunteering is another great way to gain skills and work experience giving your CV the edge it needs in a competitive market. Volunteering will see you take on a range of different tasks and responsibilities enabling you to highlight your passion in your application form. If you’re still a little unsure about which area of online retail you would like to work in, it’s also a good way of rotating around the business while thinking about your best fit.

Graduate Schemes

Graduate schemes are offered with some of the UK’s largest online retail employers. From Amazon to TJX Europe, and many more. If you’re ready to kick-start your career and have recently graduated or due to graduate then this could be the right route for you. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that graduate schemes can be highly competitive and some (not all) employers will look for a related degree, for instance buying and merchandising, retail, logistics etc. Some retailers will accept graduates with any degree field. 

A 2:1 is also preferred but not essential as a 2:2 is also accepted within the sector. Always check the entry requirements for the employer prior to applying to make sure you’re not wasting your time and theirs!

Life In Online Retail

If you’re looking for a career which guarantees a diversity of opportunities and challenges then this could be the right sector for you. Each day will be different, bringing innovation and progression pathways to you. As the sector just keeps on growing, it’s a career which we can safely say is ‘COVID-proof’ too!

You Could Work For…

  • Amazon
  • ASOS
  • Boohoo
  • Ebay
  • Gymshark
  • Littlewoods
  • Missguided
  • Moonpig
  • Nasty Gal
  • PrettyLittleThing
  • Very
  • Watch Shop

There are also retailers who trade both in store and online such as:

  • Argos
  • TK Maxx
  • River Island 
  • Sports Direct
  • Marks & Spencers
  • Morrisons
  • Asda
  • Tesco 
  • Body Shop 
  • Boots

Find graduate schemes and jobs in online retail near you with Careermap.

Online retail facts

Almost all retail decreased significantly between March and June 2020 due to coronavirus, but has increased since then to something like normality (the exception as far as recovery is concerned is clothing, which is still lagging behind pre-Lockdown levels). 

However, as you will see, non-store retailing (the red line) grew significantly during the first Lockdown period, and although then falling a bit as shops were reopened, it again picked up from September to October.

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