E-Commerce Educating A New Generation Of Independent Pursuits

E-Commerce Educating A New Generation Of Independent Pursuits

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Professional independence has historically been viewed as a goal rather distant for the majority of working-age adults. However, the residue of a pandemic created a main artery of communication, commerce, and education that was pixilated through Zoom, causing many to rethink those previously lofty goals.

As a result, industry and education converted onboarding, professional development plans, and curriculum to reflect new opportunities for respective independence, the retention of talent, and the support of new economic structures.

The e-commerce industry represents a growing trend of professionals seeking independence, relative control, and opportunity without classic revenue ceilings. In 2021, global e-retail sales stood at over $5.2 trillion, projected to reach $8.1 trillion by 2026. The move of commerce to the digital space has produced industry juggernauts like Amazon and Alibaba, representing companies recording over $1 billion in daily sales.

E-commerce has continued splintering into different sub-niches and unique job roles. It may beg the question: how important is creating an educational system to feed this emerging industry with skilled human resources? Many business owners and industry leaders in the space believe e-commerce should be a distinct degree or integrated more fully into a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) degree.

Ryan Buttigieg, a marketing and e-commerce consultant from the U.K., believes knowing what role one wants to participate in is essential in the sector. “Since e-com came on the scene, there have been many success stories where people have made it big by building online stores and selling products remotely.”

Buttigieg founded the online educational marketing program, Change Online to meet the growing demand of early-career professionals looking to add the trending skill set to their repertoire. “Today, there are many more business models in the industry and, consequently, more emerging roles that need to be filled. So, while a BCom degree may not be necessary for everyone, it could be useful in several scenarios,” says Buttigieg.

BCom Education

Universities are also beginning to respond to this reality of an expanding digital marketplace by creating their own e-commerce or e-business degree programs. Some of these are shorter in commitment than a Bachelor of Commerce education. Seattle University, the University of North Carolina, and Walden University belong to this category.

Business schools have also started to integrate e-commerce into their curriculums. While there could be a serious case for a standalone e-commerce degree, the Bachelor of Commerce academic program is often suitable for gaining a more robust understanding of the wider commerce industry and cultivating a useful skill set for e-commerce and beyond.

BCom degrees are currently bolted onto specialties such as banking, finance, economics, and computer application fields. “The BCom in e-commerce course prepares students to pursue careers related to online shopping. The course typically includes a combination of practical and theoretical knowledge related to commerce and trade practices, the internet, and technology,” states Indeed.

BCom degrees have gained popularity outside the U.S. in Canada, the U.K., Australia, and India. According to India’s Financial Express, “Universities are stepping up and adapting their pedagogy to prepare students for future workplaces through specialized courses such as BCom in e-commerce marketing. These courses aim to impart business fundamentals and equip young professionals to better understand the areas of marketing, digital marketing, accounting, finance, strategy, pricing, analytics, and social media marketing.”

E-Commerce Adoption

Following the pandemic, the U.K. saw a massive shift to e-commerce adoption, like most of the western world. In the first quarter of 2020, there were reportedly about 85,000 new online businesses, and as of April 2022, the U.K. has more than 850,000 websites with e-commerce functionality.

The U.S. leads the charge in digital commerce interaction. According to Statista data, there were 268 million digital buyers in the U.S. during 2022, with nearly 285 million projected by 2025. “Digital commerce just passed the $1 trillion mark in a single year for the first time, according to Comscore. The Statista report adds that e-commerce hit $1.09 trillion in the U.S. in 2022, with the last quarter accounting for $332.2 billion. This doesn’t include the travel [industry], which would likely add a few hundred billion dollars of revenue,” says John Koetsier in Forbes.

For those in the trenches, like Buttigieg, the massive growth of e-commerce’s adoption can be attributed to the significant development of innovations.

“Spaces like Facebook Marketplace and Instagram Checkout combined the powers of e-commerce and customer service. And then there’s Amazon which essentially pioneered the affiliate marketing model, incentivizing others to market Amazon products for a slice of the sale,” says Buttigieg.

“There are also other innovations like geotagging or having store-specific online wallets to shorten the purchase process. New e-com solutions keep coming out every day, and it’s necessary for every player in this space to understand and educate themselves on their respective applications. I started Change to help students and professionals fully grasp how e-commerce works so they can build successful and sustainable businesses now while the future unfolds.”

Benefits of E-Commerce Knowledge

With increased online shoppers and products sold, the knowledge base in understanding shopping behaviors, patterns, and customer needs keeps evolving.

Jeremy Leung, COO and co-founder of the e-commerce logistics company Ascend Ecom studied the changing habits of corporate environments and spending habits prior to starting his organization. “I realized my interest was not really in finding that classic or expected corporate job after getting my MBA. I saw an opportunity to make the most out of a once-in-a-generation opportunity. The pandemic enforced the necessity of logistics to support global economies, and I was ready to embrace the startup, e-commerce culture,” says Leung.

According to Sprout Social, online shoppers’ social media use redefines how they shop. As commerce moves to virtual settings post-pandemic, customers’ values and preferences follow along.

The advent of parasocial relationships that used to remain in the realm of celebrity is now spilling into bloggers, gamers, and a growing number of social media users. As a result, communication, connections, interactions, and learning online are shaping buying habits.

“Parasocial relationships between consumers and influencers have become a key driver of purchase intention. Influencers commit to putting their followers first and to cultivating communities of consumers with shared passions and interests. In turn, consumers look to influencers for credible recommendations and honest product reviews. Parasocial relationships remove friction from the purchase process by saving consumers time and making influencers the go-to experts,” says Dr. Jenna Drenten, department chair and associate professor of marketing at Loyola University Chicago.


A BCom degree provides exposure to different aspects of digital commerce, which include finance, risk assessment, management, marketing, economics, and accounting. Knowledge in these areas exponentially expands opportunities for professionals targeting independent career paths.

As Buttigieg puts it, “It’s better to have a commerce degree and not need it than to need it and not have it. Knowledge will always be power; the more you have, the better positioned you are for success in this industry.”

Buttigieg uses his e-commerce business to deliver experience and expertise to his students. “Change is a robust educational program. We take our students through several stages of practical training that prepares them for starting any kind of online business from the ground up. Our training is useful for people looking to go into traditional e-commerce, private labeling, and more. And we only teach established trends and proven methods regarding business setup, marketing, scaling, etc. Change is essentially an e-commerce degree program.”

Students matriculating through higher education continue to question the value proposition their current degree programs offer in an ever-digital and global marketplace. And as certifications and micro-credentialing continue to secure broad-based acceptance, the day may be coming when BCom may become the new Psychology 101 on campuses around the world.

Independent thinkers and soon-to-be participants in the global marketplace appear to be one step ahead.

Interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.

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