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One of the coolest ecommerce jobs around!

We are working with Varsity Brands in their search for a world-class VP of Ecommerce Product Management based in Memphis — “home of Elvis and the ancient Greeks!” (Sorry, that’s a Talking Heads reference I’ve been waiting for years to bust out.)

HARRY’S COMMENTS: Regular readers of these essays understand that all of my job postings are designed to help the candidate understand three things:

  1. What’s the job — all BS aside? What’s the client’s business about? How do they make money? And what’s really happening inside (and outside) the company?
  2. Is the job doable — realistically and affordably? And does everyone on the hiring committee agree on a job well done looks like — and on what timetable?
  3. Is my reader the right candidate for the job given the answers to the first two questions?

Each essay takes 4-5 hours to pull together, but they do a great job of helping ensure that the right people apply for the right reasons.

Today’s client, Varsity Brands, is made up of three companies:

  1. Varsity Spirit, which sells uniforms, hosts competitions, and runs instructional cheerleading and dance camps;
  2. Herff Jones, which is a provider of graduation and educations products such as class rings, jewelry, caps and gowns, yearbooks and recognition products; and
  3. BSN Sports, a distributor of sports uniforms and equipment.

With customizable products and programs, including yearbooks and graduation products, cheerleading uniforms, camps and competitions, and sports apparel and equipment, these three businesses serve the full spectrum of schools as well as sports teams and other organizations.

Varsity Brands is run by smart, likable, and transparent executives – many of whom I’ve gotten to know in the last two weeks. All told, I’ve spent nearly three hours on the phone with this hiring committee teasing out their needs for this position. The ultimate goal for ecommerce within Varsity Brands is to enable the firm’s customers to buy Varsity Spirit, Herff Jones, and BSN SPORTS products from a single, easy to navigate website, along with third-party fanwear.

This job is complicated — but totally doable.

To accomplish its ecommerce goals, Varsity Brands seeks a technologically experienced, financially literate, strategically savvy, business-oriented A-player who’s more of a marketing-oriented technologist than a technology-oriented marketer. Everyone at Varsity Brands is committed to the new hire’s success, and the firm has thoughtfully engaged all of its senior execs in its ecommerce planning to make sure that its ecom initiatives get traction — both internally and in the marketplace.

Varsity Brands. Built on a single premise.

Not many companies are based on a single premise, but Varsity Brands is. The firm believes in the connection between school spirit and student achievement, involvement, and confidence. Varsity Brands understands that school spirit is the glue that connects every high school community — from its students, to its parents, teachers, and the local society at large.

Through a heightened sense of school spirit, these communities enjoy a greater sense of …

  • Purpose: Through a shared goal or interest.
  • Identity: A knowledge of who’s who.
  • Communication: A platform to share information and ideas.
  • Trust: Members know with whom they’re dealing and that it’s safe to do so.
  • Reputation: Members recognize and build status based on their actions.
  • Groups: Members can relate to each other in smaller numbers.
  • Environment: Members interact in a shared space that is appropriate to their goals.
  • Boundaries: Members know who belongs and who doesn’t.
  • Governance: Leaders can regulate and moderate behavior according to shared or stated values.
  • Exchange: Members have a system of exchange or barter and can trade knowledge, support, goods, services, and ideas.
  • Expression: Members have a group identity and know what other members are doing.
  • History: Members can look back over their history and track their evolution.

Anyone who’s ever been to a high school reunion knows how important school spirit is — and how lasting its positive effects can be. Here you can see Varsity Brands’ mission in action

The Market for Something to Believe In is Massive

Varsity Brands offers customizable products and branding programs for elementary and middle schools, high schools, and colleges and universities, as well as church organizations, professional and collegiate sports teams, and corporations. There are roughly 13,500 US public school districts with about 98,500 schools provide education for about 50 million K-12 students. On top of that, there are approximately 31,000 private primary and secondary schools in the US, with a total enrollment of about 4.5 million students.

The basic purpose of this role will be to refine Varsity Brands’ current Magento / SAP based solution that will allow schools to offer and manage their Herff Jones, Varsity Spirit, and BSN orders online from a single user-friendly UI while giving students, parent, and other stakeholders the ability to buy third-party spirit wear and accessories online.

A Seasoned, Motivated, and Incentivized Field Sales Force will Drive Adoption

With sales in excess of $1.2 billion, Varsity Brands’ three businesses have the largest “K-through-College” sales force in America — with more than 1,000 sales professionals dedicated to providing products and services to the school and institutional markets.

I’ll stop here, but if you’re the right person for this role — you can already see where this is going.

The job is based in Memphis, Tennessee. Make no mistake: Tennessee rocks. I used to live there, and I’ve been to Memphis. Four seasons. No state income tax. Low cost of living. Smart, very down to earth people. Pro business. Amazing food. Like, off the chain. Yada yada yada.

Plus, this is a fantastic opportunity with a well run company in a growing market. And these folks WANT you to succeed. Indeed, your fingerprints will be ALL OVER this thing when it’s running as well as it’s going to. Talk about “reputation-enhancing!”


Candidates, rest assured that I’m sitting on a ridiculous amount of proprietary information about this role, the company, its industry and the size / scope of the market opportunity. For competitive reasons, I painted a fairly broad picture here.

However, I’m happy to share everything I’ve heard, seen, and researched about this opportunity with qualified candidates. You definitely don’t want to apply without this intel, so let me hook you up!

Simply TEXT [your name + “VARSITY”] to me at (404) 281-2025. Or simply apply online below. Either way, I look forward to chatting with you!

View Harry Joiner's LinkedIn profileView Harry Joiner’s profile


  • Drive an effective site strategy and product roadmap for Varsity Brands through collaboration with Marketing, Merchandising and Technology.
  • Build a track record of delivering products that customers love and that drive value for the business.
  • Identify and analyze new online opportunities and enhancements, staying abreast of market trends, consumer behavior, and the competitive landscape.
  • Own projects over all phases of the product lifecycle, including opportunity assessment, discovery, requirements definition, implementation, and launch.
  • Partner with User Experience and Creative to create specifications and interaction models that best suit user needs, and to create a compelling visual experience.
  • – Identify and evaluate third-party vendors to support the eCommerce roadmap and vision, when appropriate.
  • Leverage all available data and insights including market analysis, customer feedback, web data, A/B testing and usability findings to form actionable insights that guide project decisions.
  • Build and maintain close relationships with technology, business analysts and project management to ensure that all requirements are clearly understood, adjusting details/scope as necessary.
  • Communicate to ensure key stakeholders are informed on prioritization and progress.
  • Oversee deliverables to ensure that schedule, functionality and quality requirements are met.


  • Have 5+ years of product management experience with web or mobile consumer ecommerce experiences.
  • Demonstrate experience bringing web and mobile products from conception to implementation, including gathering and synthesizing requirements, managing resources, and leading cross-functional teams.
  • Pride yourself on strong quantitative data analysis and critical thinking skills.
  • Boast superb communication skills, verbal and written, and are persuasive.
  • Thrive in an unstructured environment and have an ability to multi-task and manage multiple priorities and projects.
  • Focus on delivering results and making an impact on an organization.
  • Are a master of collaboration, influencing and building consensus; work well with many groups/personalities/levels in the organization.
  • Are referred to by friends as an entrepreneurial, out-of-the-box thinker who is intellectually curious with a strong work ethic.
  • Are an exceptional team builder and developer of direct, indirect, and non-reports.
  • Have experience with web analytic tools such as Coremetrics, Omniture, Google Analytics
  • Have a Bachelor’s degree in a Marketing, Sales or related field or equivalent working experience

Applications for this position are being coordinated by Harry Joiner. You can now TEXT Harry for more info at (404) 281-2025. Or to apply on your desktop, CLICK HERECandidates, please be sure to email Harry for a packet of market research and company / competitive intel that will differentiate you in your candidacy. Due to the intensely competitive nature of this search, thorough preparation for these interviews with this proprietary material is strongly recommended.

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Harry Joiner

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