4 ½ Things I Learned/Un-Learned During My GSI Internship
What is GSI Commerce? Entering into a GSI summer internship within the corporate marketing team as a third year college student, I had 8 weeks to figure this one out. I didn’t go undercover, but my mission was clear—to be a sponge. Listen, watch, learn and ask questions. And, in my final week, I had the chance to reflect on all that I learned about ecommerce.
1.There’s a lot going on behind the scenes
During my first week at GSI, I was asked if I had ever purchased anything from Dick's Sporting Goods ecommerce site. Lo and behold my answer was yes. But how did this relate to GSI? The senior executive responded with an ear-to-ear smile. "You've already worked with us, and you didn't even know it."
If you’re like me, you might’ve thought that most companies operated their own ecommerce sites. In fact, Dick’s Sporting Goods and many other leading brands and retailers work with GSI to take care of all the behind the scenes work. (If GSI doesn’t already have the ecommerce solution for a client, they have the talent and resources to find it!) You’ve probably heard of web-store, multichannel, order management, fulfillment and call center operations—but who knew that GSI was involved in so many different aspects of ecommerce?
2. Sweat the small stuff
Attention to detail—the importance of this point CANNOT be underestimated. No one surfing a website takes the time to think about all the research and trials that go into a “50% off Labor Day sale banner” posted on the top right corner of the Aeropostale website—but I sit among people who think through how this impacts the customer experience. GSI’s business analysts know that small details are key to the success of the client. So, take note—it all matters.
3. Step up or step aside
Some say leadership cannot be taught. Leaders are born, not made. Wrong. The importance of clear, consistent communication and leadership qualities within employees cannot be underestimated in day-to-day tasks.
In grade school, high school and even in college, it’s pretty easy to identify the natural born leaders—but that doesn’t mean leadership and public speaking skills can’t be taught. In the corporate world, everyone is a leader (whether they like it or not) for both the company and for himself. Positions change, and leadership qualities become even more important when meeting and working with a whole new group of people (note to self: assert yourself). It may have work to pull the shy card in school, but the corporate world doesn’t operate that way.
4. Flexibility—the key to success
To be an asset in the ecommerce world, you have to be able to adapt to constant change. This industry moves very quickly. My internship took place during the time when GSI was in the process of being acquired by eBay Inc. Within the corporate marketing team, I saw firsthand how my colleagues moved communication strategy from being a public company to a business unit almost overnight. During the process, they had to rapidly adjust to the new future—so they made changes and never looked back.
4 ½. Acquisition?
My initial goal was to figure out what GSI Commerce was, but everything was constantly changing. The acquisition threw my mission a curve ball. I’d be lying if I were to say I gained a complete understanding of the eBay/GSI acquisition. My first thought was, “Does one company swallow the other? How are employees supposed to respond to this?
But, when asked if I was excited about it, I didn’t skip a beat. No question. As a longtime eBay devotee, it didn’t matter if I understood the “philosophical connection” between the two companies—it was eBay! How could I not be excited? It didn’t take long for the connection to become clear—together this team would leverage off each other to expand globally and in all retail markets—from high designer fashions, to specialty food service companies.
Mission accomplished? Not so much. There’s no doubt, I’ve become a saturated sponge—learning AND un-learning preconceived notions. I’ve come to the conclusion that GSI Commerce will continue to change, evolve and constantly improve.
Even though I am in my last few days at GSI, I am excited to see what happens next…stay tuned.
- Intern over and out.
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