New Opportunities For Ecommerce Developers

InnovationTechnologyResearch and Insights

by Mudita Tiwari, Sr. Director, Developer Ecosystem

When there’s a paradigm shift in an industry, new pressures arise, but so do new opportunities. That’s the takeaway from a new study commissioned by PayPal, digging into the tectonic shifts that occurred among ecommerce developers and the business decision-makers that oversee their efforts. At PayPal, we were as close as anyone to last year’s explosive growth in ecommerce which the United Nations tracked at 19%* of all global retail sales in 2020, up from 16% in 2019.  of all global retail sales in 2020, up from 16% in 2019.

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Amid the COVID pandemic, with so many people relying on remote and online retail almost exclusively, ecommerce developers were stretched drastically thin.  But an overwhelming 94% of developers surveyed said they don’t believe their workload will return to pre-pandemic levels, even as more people head back out to shop in person. In fact, 45% of developers think that their workload will actually increase.

However, there is an opportunity for developers to take more control of how their work output is utilized. As the pandemic rolled on, business decision makers increasingly relied on ecommerce developers for insights on what to do next. Four out of five developers saw their role in making business decisions increase during the last year, and 86% see that trend growing in the next year.

We found that business decision-makers are open to more input from developers. Just over half expressed a clear desire for this new channel to expand. The study found 62% were most interested in developers being proactive about bringing new ideas to the table, and many 46% want developers to be more engaged with business units.  

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This could open up new doors for developers inside their organizations. Hybrid roles mixing developer and business functions will be a necessary and evolutionary step as businesses grow in an increasingly digital world. Perhaps we could even see the birth of a Chief Developer Officer!

This opportunity is only there for those who want to take it. The survey revealed that while these new paths are possible, many developers simply aren’t interested in pursuing them. Whether it’s because of heavy workloads or a penchant for staying behind the scenes, 53% of developers would rather focus only on their current projects, where they’re often siloed from larger business decisions.

But the other 47% who want to play a more significant part in their organization’s future, could blaze new paths in their career if they choose.

Business leaders should take this opportunity seriously. Consider a thorough examination of your organization and where developers could play a more pivotal part in planning for a more digital future. And that engaged group of developers should be proactive in charting their course as well, seeking out a business leader or a trusted colleague within a business unit who can discuss possibilities for a hybrid role.

Great digital acceleration is happening everywhere. We all know it and see it. But while we focus on the impact on products and customers, we should not forget about the opportunity for our digital workforce who are the lifeblood of the ecommerce industry.

*U.N. Study: Global e-commerce jumps to $26.7 trillion, fueled by COVID-19


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