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We are working with Crocs in their search for a Director of Ecommerce, Americas based in Boulder, CO.

Before I get cranked up on my own commentary, following is an excellent, honest assessment of Crocs’ SWOTs from Howard Rothman, who wrote this for Motley Fool last week. According to Mr. Rothman …

Although Crocs (NASDAQ: CROX) opened for business in 1999, it took about a half-dozen years before its colorful injection-molded clogs hit anyone’s radar. But when they did hit, they hit big. A highly anticipated IPO was followed by a rapid rise in stock price that topped 400% before peaking in late October 2007 — and then collapsed, just as quickly, falling by more than 98% over the next 13 months.

Since then, the business that many thought of as a one-trick pony has diversified and expanded overseas. Consequently, its stock has slowly but steadily perked back up. And while it has regained only about 50% of its peak value, recent performances have caused analysts to begin looking at the company in a much more favorable light. Fourth-quarter results announced in February, for example, beat expectations on revenues and earning per share, driving shares up nearly 10%.

As the first quarter draws to a close, a SWOT analysis — examining the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats — shows where investors should be looking ahead of Crocs’ next earnings release Apr. 25.

Strengths

  1. Brand image — With the Crocs name now known throughout much of the world, the company is increasing its marketing expenditures by 33% this year to expand its positioning in the casual footwear marketplace. Global print, outdoor and social media will be utilized more extensively to connect directly with consumers, who generally carry a favorable opinion of the brand. Harry update: The hiring manager for this role, Andy Sackmann, was recently promoted To CMO.
  2. Kids products — Currently representing about 25% of sales, children’s models present solid opportunities thanks to licensing tie-ins with Lego, Barbie and other popular brands. Crocs offers full lines of these for babies, children 1-6, and juniors 7 and up, as well as its Jibbitz line of decorative clog accessories.
  3. Value pricing — Crocs are generally priced lower than shoes from competitors like Merrell and Patagonia Footwear fromWolverine World Wide (NYSE: WWW), and Sanduk and Teva from Deckers Outdoor (NASDAQ: DECK). Both of these companies make casual shoes and sandals aimed at a similar customer base, and are much larger and can mount more substantial marketing efforts. The ability to offer Crocs at attractive price points will remain an important advantage in future battles. Additionally, Crocs are typically only slightly more expensive than knock-offs and outright counterfeits.

Weaknesses

  1. Tough competition — The landscape is vast and includes major athletic and footwear suppliers, branded apparel companies and retailers with private-label footwear, as well as niche firms like Sloggers that offer similar styles. A serious threat also comes from unbranded knock-offs, which siphon sales and impact brand image due to their inferior construction and detail.
  2. Inventory management — Always a challenge in fast-growing and trendy industries, out-of-control inventories were a major reason for Crocs’ 2008 collapse. High levels at third-party retailers pressured pricing and slowed orders. The subsequent inventory build at the source only compounded problems. The company continues working to alleviate these issues through better supply routes and fewer retailers.

Opportunities

  1. New products — Popular expansions beyond the classic clog include slip-on flats for women, canvas loafers for men, and enclosed workplace shoes for both sexes. In 2012 Crocs introduced its first golf shoe to promising initial results, and in early March began distributing a widely anticipated Huarache. Introductions last fall did particularly well in growing markets like Russia, Austria and the Nordics, while new products overall represented more than one-third of global fourth-quarter sales.
  2. New markets — Asia has provided the company’s biggest boost. Sales in the region were up 20% year-over-year in 2012 and nearly 125% since 2008, thanks largely to China and Korea. Expansion in Russia, the Middle East and South America has also borne fruit.
  3. New outlets — Crocs opened 201 retail sites in 2012, bringing its worldwide total to 537, and it expects to add 70 to 95 more this year. Most of these are full retail stores vs. pop-up kiosks, which the company focused on initially but is now shuttering in favor of actual stores. The majority is opening in Asia, followed by Europe, and Crocs sees these driving double-digit growth in that beleaguered region. The footwear also sold well in 2012 at “key partners” such as Famous Footwear and DSW (NYSE: DSW) — the $2 billion national branded footwear and accessories chain that pushes Crocs hard in its stores and on its web sites. Additionally, wholesalers opened 1,300 new doors and about 560 new accounts globally during the year.

Threats

  1. Europe — Performance in Europe has been hurt by macroeconomic conditions and no immediate improvement is in sight. Revenue in the region accounted for 15% of the company’s total in 2012, compared to 17% a year earlier, and was the only negative in a year that recorded a more than 12% rise overall.
  2. Japan — Business fell 12% year-over-year in the fourth quarter, and the company sees this market as its most challenging in 2013. “Conservative consumers” remain reluctant to ramp up purchases, it says, while the yen’s decline continues its adverse impact on operations.
  3. Counterfeits — Protecting Crocs’ trademarks and other intellectual property, particularly outside the U.S., remains a costly challenge. The company scored a significant victory in December when 18 people in China were fined by local courts and sentenced to a combined 46 years in prison after police seized nearly 130,000 pairs of fake Crocs worth almost $10 million. This was part of the 600,000 counterfeits confiscated in China alone in recent years, but officials concede the problem continues worldwide.

The Bottom Line …

Crocs has been one of the more intriguing corporate stories of recent years. The rapid rise from an IPO that was already the largest in footwear history and the stunning fall a few months later are already the stuff of legend. But more important — and certainly more impressive — is the way management has addressed its problems. As a result, Crocs has managed to grow the market for the product that put it on the map while branching out with others that expand its presence.

Many of the headwinds Crocs battled during the past decade haven’t completely died down. And the casual footwear industry remains fraught with seasonal, competitive and trend/taste issues that present a constant challenge. But Crocs seems to have weathered the worst of it, and looks poised to continue its respectable comeback.

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About the Role:

The Director of Eccommerce is responsible for the strategic and tactical activities of the web/ecommerce channel. This person will help design, launch, and maintain our ecommerce platform, manage the day-to-day operations of the ecommerce site, and build a team of web professionals to manage and grow channel revenues.

In this position you will ensure business processes and systems are designed, developed, and operational, for ecommerce. The ecommerce team will manage the content (and assortment) to maximize web sales as well as support an integrated channel strategy for the organization.

The Director will also ensure a customer experience consistent with the organizations reputation of customer service, convenience, and selection. The ideal candidate will have a combination of skills across ecommerce operations, analytics, merchandising, and creative design.

HARRY’S COMMENTS: This is another one of those searches where our kickoff call with the client well exceeded 90 minutes. We have reams of information on this search, which we first closed back in early 2010. The hiring manager for this role is Andy Sackmann, and extremely likable, business-oriented ecommerce executive who joined Crocs in 2011 after a very successful stint with Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

After 10 years in business and $1 billion in annual revenue, Crocs is doing great things. At the core of it, the company is a manufacturer and retailer of footwear. The company’s foam rubber clogs remain a hit with children, but Crocs is successfully transitioning into a lifestyle brand. The firm is vertically integrated and it makes money by effectively managing its margins throughout the value chain.

Crocs has exceptional brand awareness, yet that awareness centers primarily around one type of shoe: Many people know Crocs as a clog company, which is both a blessing and a curse. The company’s flagship product is 7 years old, yet the firm will offer 350 styles of shoes for the next season. There’s a huge opportunity to raise awareness of all of Crocs’ styles and fold them into the brand in a new way.

Naturally, ecommerce will play a huge part in how Crocs manages that transition. In particular, the company has a great opportunity to improve its online marketing and merchandising while driving improvements to its ecommerce P&L.

Without getting into the specifics, Crocs worldwide ecommerce sales from its 22 websites are fantastic. And the Americas portion of that is 60%.

In the United States, Crocs sells primarily to middle income mothers buying for themselves and their families. Their primary concern is the product’s function: These women seek a great value, yet they want their shoes to be in style and on trend …

Essentially, there are two ways that customers come to Crocs:

  1. Some people have a bias for Crocs’ core products like flip-flops, clogs, etc. These are loyal customers who seek to make a replacement purchase or purchase the newest version of the style they already own. Crocs has a very high installed customer base that matches this description.
  2. The second type of customer has had her interest piqued by Crocs’ newer product silhouettes. The word “silhouette” refers to the DNA of the Crocs brand, which is essentially fun, easy on /easy off, innovation, etc. The basic concept is that you may have bought Crocs’ clogs three years ago and loved them, and now you would consider the company has a viable sneaker brand, boot maker, etc.

These are the customers for whom a more traditional AIDA sales funnel applies, and it greatly benefits Crocs’ acquisition of these customers that it has 200+ retail stores in the United States. That’s a lot of marketing exposure and foot traffic, which presents Crocs with a tremendous opportunity to fortify its ecommerce business.

The operative word is “business.”

Perhaps more than anything, Crocs is looking for an honest to goodness business person to run its ecommerce business. Meaning, you will need to have real literacy in finance, accounting, management reporting, marketing, sales, distribution, manufacturing, and more. That’s not to say that you will need to be an expert in each of these areas, but it is essential that your eyes not glaze over when you are in a meeting with Crocs’ CFO and he wants to discuss the cash conversion cycle of your ecommerce business.

Indeed, this job is all about running a multimillion dollar business profitably and efficiently. Crocs is a finance and operations oriented company, and a lot of attention will be paid to how you manage your financials for the Americas ecommerce business.

Additionally, it is imperative that you have successfully built and led teams in the past. Crocs’ existing ecommerce team is excellent. This role is not a turnaround. However, there are very many opportunities to grow the business, and these opportunities need to be assessed, prioritized, and properly organized around.

To succeed in this role, Crocs’ management will require that you have managed a P&L of at least 7 figures. Not necessarily $50 million, but something very substantial along those lines. The assumption is that if you have managed both revenues and margins, then you will be smart about pricing strategies, promotions strategies, and the online product assortment. You will need to ask tough questions about what kind of traffic will protect your margins, and what activities will favorably impact return rates, monthly revenues, and operating income.

This is a very different mentality from simply operating a website. You will be running a business. And you will be accountable to some very ninja business executives.

To get this job, you will need to demonstrate deep expertise in 11 key areas. I have captured several pages of detailed notes (plus additional industry / company / market research) on these 11 areas, and I’ll be happy to share my thoughts on these with qualified candidates. Please apply below.

 

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ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Responsible for all areas of Crocs Americas Ecommerce business including all aspects of ecommerce sales, budget, promotions, digital marketing and customer experience.
  • Develop, implement and direct plans and operating metrics against a defined set of key ecommerce performance metrics.
  • Work closely with Global Website Development and Design teams to continually enhance the user experience and increase ecommerce conversion
  • Execute online sales strategy, benchmarking, and measurement in order to increase site conversion, as well as to help build a culture of continuous improvement and constant testing.
  • Lead the strategic integration of consistent relevant marketing messages across the Website and channels of distribution for additional Crocs brands
  • Work cross-functionally to implement direct customer acquisition and retention operating strategies including search engine optimization, online advertising, customer contact, and emerging technologies.
  • Work closely with internal marketing resources to develop internet marketing strategies for increased Brand and Retail level promotions and integration
  • Provide monthly and quarterly performance reports, projections and reviews on all key performance metrics
  • Managing and continually extracting incremental strategic or tactical value from direct relationships with Corporate, Europe, Asia and vendor/partners
  • Managing cross-functional relationships and coordinating efforts with Merchandising and Planning and other internal teams to achieve greater clarity around goals, implementation of campaigns and promotions, and measurements of success.
  • Work with the analytics team/Corporate to deliver accurate website measurement
  • Utilize analytics and Web metrics to run and analyze reports to gauge how all US sites are performing. Track and analyze all Web visits, customer interactions, page views, conversions and other Key Performance Indicators including traffic, conversion and revenue.
  • Partner with Distribution and operations partners to further maximize Ecommerce fulfillment, freight, planning and logistics.
  • Partner with Marketing and Global Ecommerce teams to plan, build and implement online community and loyalty program for Crocs in the US marketplace.
  • Oversee daily, weekly and monthly reporting.
  • Train, motivate, and develop team.
  • Build and maintain key relationships with cross functional team members
  • Performs other incidental and related duties as required.

QUALIFICATIONS

To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • Minimum of 5 years of experience in e-commerce and online marketing
  • Minimum 5 years developing, driving, and implementing ecommerce strategies to achieve goals
  • Ability to work independently and synthesize large amounts of data while meeting deadlines
  • Demonstrated analytical capabilities including the ability to analyze and report on data
  • Demonstrated experience in quickly learning new technologies and complex processes
  • Strong attention to detail, excellent organizational skills
  • Proven ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously; Self-starter approach to work, with an eagerness to consistently meet and exceed objectives and take on more responsibility
  • Ability to perform budget management and forecasting
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Authorization to work in the U.S.

UPDATE: THIS SEARCH IS CLOSED.

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Harry Joiner

"... a dominant recruiter in the client-side multichannel ecommerce space ..." - SearchEngineWatch.com

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