Controllers Wanted: E-Commerce Demands Structural Adjustments

The retail industry is in the midst of a digital structural transformation. Compared to traditional retail, online retail has achieved a significant increase in sales, and the potential for further growth is far from exhausted. Combining traditional and online business models leads to greater complexity and places higher demands on corporate performance management. The Horváth Human Resources Barometer for Switzerland shows that retail companies need staff in the field of controlling to manage this. In a year-on-year comparison in 2018, more than twice as many controlling jobs were advertised in wholesalers and retailers.

Economic and structural influences and challenges are shaping the situation for retail companies in Switzerland: There is a competitive market and sales are stagnating while company expenditure for staff, raw materials, retail spaces and operating equipment is constantly increasing. Structural problems also arise from there being too many sites with large production areas generating a poor return, which, as a result, produce too little variety in the product line. The sector’s structural transformation has intensified even further in recent years as a result of digitization. Therefore, more and more retail companies are developing into multi-channel providers, who not only offer their goods using one distribution channel like they used to, but instead use various channels. Furthermore, greater demands are being placed on how retail companies are managed as a result of e-commerce and because different distribution channels are increasingly merging together. Such changes have to be reflected in controlling instruments, which are exposed to the same dynamics as the companies themselves. Horváth Human Resource Barometer’s numbers show how retail companies have reacted to the digital structural transformation, whether this be in wholesale or retail. The number of controlling jobs advertised more than doubled between January and December 2018:


Controlling jobs

Changes from January to December 2018






“Controlling as an instrument for business management will play a pivotal role in terms of shaping and managing company structures and processes that are becoming increasingly specialized and complex.” Ueli Teuscher, Partner and Swiss director of Horváth & Partners, explains. “Effective controlling has to help management plan, monitor and lead in a focused way by supplying the necessary data and information at all times and providing the basis for decision-making.”

Horváth Human Resources Barometer
The Horváth Human Resources Barometer measures the number of vacancies advertised (full and part-time) on Swiss company websites. Every month, it records more than 2,500 advertised positions in Switzerland in the selected functional areas of organization, purchasing, finance and controlling via web spider technology. The data provides information on the key areas in which Swiss companies, of all sizes, require personnel. This identifies their key resourcing issues thematic priorities.