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We are working with PetSmart in their search for a Director of Ecommerce based in Phoenix, AZ. PetSmart, Inc. (NASDAQ: PETM) is the largest specialty pet retailer of services and solutions for the lifetime needs of pets. The company operates 1200 stores in the United States and Canada, providing a broad range of competitively priced pet food and pet products; services include a growing number of in-store PetsHotel boarding facilities, pet training, pet grooming, Doggie Day Camp and pet adoption services. The company is growing and is well-positioned in a high-growth industry. PetSmart’s 2010 revenues were $5.3 billion and it employs over 40,000 people.

HARRY’S COMMENTS: This is a truly unusual search. On the one hand, it’s a straightforward Director of Ecommerce search with one of the best-loved brands in the pet category. On the other hand, it’s a search where the client needs an actual businessperson for the role.  When I say “businessperson,” I mean we need a candidate who understands logistics, purchasing, marketing, finance (to a degree), and operations.

Unfortunately, due to the confidential nature of the search, there is a limit to what I can disclose in this posting. But let’s just say that the project kickoff call for the search lasted 90 minutes, and it was all business.

The US pet and pet supply store industry includes about 8,700 stores with combined annual revenue of about $11 billion. Major companies include PetSmart, PETCO Animal Supplies Stores, and Petland.

I did some digging, and it turns out that the industry is concentrated: the 50 largest companies account for about 60 percent of revenue.  Obviously, pet ownership drives demand, and spending generally resists economic cycles.  Profitability for individual companies depends on the ability to generate store traffic and effective merchandising.  Large companies offer low prices and wide selections of both products and services. Small companies compete effectively by serving a local market, selling unique products, offering specialized services, or providing pet expertise.

The industry is labor-intensive, with annual revenue per employee of about $110,000. Revenue per employee for small, independent pet stores is significantly lower than for major chains. Competitors include grocery stores, warehouse clubs, mass merchandisers, Internet retailers, and veterinary clinics.

In short, this is one of the few categories I know of that offers significant product AND service revenue opportunities — and everybody wants a piece of this action because pet owners will spend money on their pets even when they’re not spending elsewhere. For example, pet GPS tracking devices are proving popular among doting pet owners seeking peace of mind. According to The Star-Ledger, pet GPSs can cost ~$200 and require a monthly fee!

IT GETS BETTER: If I told you Petsmart’s yearly online revenues, you’d be amazed. Moreover, in light of the size of the market and the passionate, hyper-responsive nature of the Petsmart consumer, the potential of this online business is incredible. These are customers who truly enjoy being cross-sold and up-sold, whether online or in the stores.

What I need in the ideal candidate is someone who is a pet lover (ideally); a merchant at heart; understands procurement; and appreciates the logistics and supply chain issues required to bring new products to market.

BOTTOM LINE:  I need someone who is channel agnostic and who can persuade Petsmart’s stakeholders that, when it works, multichannel ecommerce is a pie-enlarging, not pie-rearranging, value proposition. And oh yeah: Everyday is “Bring Your Pet to Work Day” at Petsmart.

Please Tweet this job, and you’ll be automatically entered into our monthly drawing. Just do it and see what happens: 2010 prizes included $100 Amazon gift certs, Dean & Deluca steaks, and Keurig coffee machines …

Position Description:

The Director of eCommerce will be responsible for driving net sales and gross profit for the online channel.  He/she will lead development of the eCommerce strategy and growth plan, encompassing existing assortment, aisle extension, and new online exclusive categories.  

He/she will closely partner with the Senior Manager, Site Experience and the Creative Content team to make a true competitive differentiator for the brand.  The candidate will also forge strong, highly collaborative relationships with IS, the offline Merchant organization and Promotional Effectiveness teams from the VP to the Buyer and Manager levels.

The candidate will possess superb analytic skills, digging deep into data to craft critical objectives, strategies and tactics, and then turning insight into action to drive results.   He/she will shepherd development of the marketing plan for the online channel, including web-only promotions and affiliate sales.  This will include continuous testing and analysis.

He/she will lead the relationship with PetSmart’s 3rd party ecommerce partner, including web store, fulfillment and call center.

He/she will partner with Finance to enhance the forecasting and reporting tools, introducing a new level of accountability and transparency.

The Director of eCommerce will be an inspirational, collaborative leader adept at leading through influence. He/she will serve as a critical change agent, providing insights that drive new ideas. In partnership with the Senior Manager, Site Experience, the candidate will develop a multi-year digital strategic roadmap to meaningfully enhance’s role in driving transactions online and to the stores.


  • Develops and executes eCommerce strategies and plans, and ensures that the online growth strategy aligns with the organization’s overall business strategy.
  • Assertively manages key drivers behind sales and gross profit margin, including: traffic, average order value and conversion, to ensure the team is on track to meet or exceed the plan.
  • Leverages site analytics to monitor performance and guide action.
  • Diligently monitors competitive developments across online pet supply and online retail.
  • Manages milestones, deadlines and scheduling for multiple simultaneous projects, keeping the team up to date with progress and decisions.
  • Communicates to executives and other key stakeholders the strategies driving eCommerce, a vision and roadmap for future growth, and provides ongoing status updates across initiatives. Serves as subject matter expert for online commerce across the enterprise.
  • Serves as an indispensable partner and advisor to the Senior Manager Site Experience, IT Business Alignment Leader, offline Merchant VPs and Directors, Director of CRM, Senior Manager of Copy and Content, and Supply Chain and Customer Service leaders.
  • Ensures effective communication of all eCommerce initiatives, resulting in consistent understanding of the reasons for, direction of, and expected results of each project. Acts as focal point for progress reporting on key initiatives, including timely updates/presentations to the Senior Leadership Team, Marketing Leadership Team, IT and other key stakeholders.

Leadership Skills

  • Business Leadership – Influences enterprise level strategies. Understands all aspects of the business, industry and competitive landscape. Distinguishes what is critical from what is important. Provides clear and compelling direction and ensures understanding. Helps streamline processes to manage costs and achieve efficiencies. Acts with a sense of urgency and builds and adjusts the plan to deliver results that meet or exceed expectations.
  • Team Leadership – Optimizes organizational capabilities and removes barriers through relationship building. Strategic and diplomatic in forging relationships, inspiring trust and motivating others to achieve goals. Is inclusive, seeks out varying perspectives and multiple alternatives, shares information and finds common ground. Understands and maximizes business interdependencies. Flexible in revising plans to support changing business needs. Brings out the best in people through coaching, feedback, support and encouragement. Teaches and mentors people beyond direct reports.
  • Self-Leadership – Anticipates future opportunities and challenges. Outstanding communication skills – formal and informal. Develops and implements ideas that have long-term impact on the organization. Anticipates upcoming business needs and makes appropriate plans in advance to be prepared. Deals effectively with ambiguity and change. Displays leadership versatility, knowing when to step in and when to step out. Challenges tradition and conventional thinking when appropriate. Acts with integrity and courage, and focuses on greater good over personal benefit.


  • Manages the eCommerce team, supervising a team of 7, including 5 online merchants, a Senior Manager eCommerce Strategy and Analytics and an Operations Manager.  Brings out the best in associates through coaching, mentoring and management of individual development plans.
  • Responsibilities include:  interviewing, hiring, and training employees; planning, assigning, and directing work; appraising performance; rewarding and disciplining employees; addressing complaints and resolving problems.

Position Requirements:

  • 7+ years experience managing eCommerce for a leading retailer
  • Bachelor’s degree. Advanced degree preferred


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