The #1 Reason it's Hard to Hire DTC Product Managers

Today is part two of our series focused on diagnosing why it's so hard to hire DTC product talent and what you can do to overcome the roadblocks to get to a "hell yes" hire.

And the #1 reason is… many DTC brands are not "real" tech companies!

Before everyone gets too excited, we know this statement is untrue for all DTC brands. 

The DTC brands that are mobile apps are typically a native digital business and more closely aligned to being a "real" tech company. However, DTC brands that provide an e-commerce storefront to a brick & mortar retailer or a physical product like a shoe or razor are another thing altogether. In these examples, revenue for the business comes from selling products, while technology is the enabler. 

Attracting Product Managers to a DTC where tech is the enabler, not the path to revenue (ARR), first requires an acute understanding of the nuances across the product management function. 

This is because the function of product management differs from company to company, which impacts recruiting and ensuring the right skills and experiences are being identified among candidates. In a nutshell, there are many different types of Product Managers.

For example, most Product Managers who work for a software company whose business is based on sales of their software (SaaS to achieve ARR) are wired to build. These “builders” are full-stack Product Managers who take a product from ideation to launch in the market. They might focus on the discovery side of product ideation or exclusively on delivery, working closely with Engineers to engineer the idea into a fully functional piece of software that can then be monetized.

By contrast, most DTC e-commerce storefronts take an integrated approach to their digital products, selecting software vendors and knitting them together (integrations) to provide a digital experience a customer will use. 

Thinking about DTC Product Managers, I was reminded of a recent conversation with a US-based PM who had worked at Wayfair. They described their first "ah ha" moment, three months in, that they had joined an online home furnishings retailer, not a software development company. When the candidate realized the actual business model and product management role, they knew it would not be a long-term employment stint. They instead wanted to work for a "real" tech company.

Understanding the experiences required for the state of the DTC business and how much is build vs. partner will help begin the journey to hiring the right talent for a brand’s DTC product team

Stay tuned for the rest of this series when we uncover DTC product hiring challenges 2 & 3 and how to solve these tricky hiring problems.

Looking for more insights into effectively hiring Product Managers for your DTC startup? Speak with our product recruitment experts today!