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HARRY’S COMMENTS: Last fall, we did a VP of Ecommerce search for, the world’s largest online sports nutrition retailer whose site features more than 12000 products, 25000 articles, and 2000 videos – not to mention its own social network teeming with over 1 million members.  Email subscribers, click here.

Many of you saw my posting for that position, and it was a story I really enjoyed telling for two reasons …

  1. is a growth-oriented ecommerce business with outstanding underlying economics, and
  2. The people at are as nice as they are smart.

Before I get cranked up, please understand that the job is based in Boise, Idaho. There’s no getting around that. But frankly, I think Boise is a selling point. Check out my previous post.

Now then. I have seen this client’s Merch org chart, and I have spoken at length with their COO about this search. As the following job description points out, this Director of Category Management role will be responsible for developing category plans, which includes the selection of new items, the development of promotional plans, and the analysis of inventory performance. It’s a big, high-profile job – and if you are a Category Manager by trade, then this is your chance to make a difference.’s Director of Category Management will oversee the development of the firm’s supplement, accessories, equipment, and clothing categories. Pretty much the whole ball of wax. That means working with brand managers to develop product “stories” and marketing plans for all of these categories, and it means leading a team of 4 direct reports and 11 indirect reports.

The operative word is “leading.”

This is a strategic role, and to be effective, you’ll need to understand not only how to do the job, but how to get things done through others. We expect you to bring your own “category management process” to the business in order to get more leverage from the strong team that’s already in place. We need someone who has an analytical bias to the way they make decisions – but more importantly, we need someone who processes information from multiple sources based on a mixture of academically rigorous analysis, wisdom, and street-smarts. And ideally, we want you to mentor your team with those gifts.

You’ll drive important metrics, too: Inventory turns; GMROI; and SKU gross margins (for starters). This is a very numbers driven, analysis driven department that is fully supported by a well functioning data warehouse. But although this is a very data driven job, you won’t be crunching numbers all day. Nope. That’s what’s category managers do.

However, you will need to understand implicitly what the data means in order to make big picture decisions with it. And I’m not just talking about Omniture data either. I’m talking about external data, too, such as economic indicators and demographic trends that could impact demand on entire lines of business.

Realistically, we’re looking for someone who has experience with category management with 12000 SKUs or higher. Ecommerce category management experience is required, although candidates needn’t come from the fitness or supplement industries.

An important part of the job is being able to work with vendors. The job may involve 20% travel, and the new hire must be comfortable going to shows and grabbing a beer (torture!) with the company’s trade partners.  After all, business is about relationships.

As always, I’m sharing with you only a fraction of what I know about the role. It’s a great gig if you are a business-oriented senior level category manager, or possibly an entry-level director of category management. Apply below.

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 Overview: is looking to add an experienced Category Manager to lead and develop all products categories. The Director of Category Management will be primarily responsible for developing and executing category plans, new items selection, promotional plans and inventory performance. This individual will lead a team of category/brand managers and will work closely with Merchandising, Marketing, Business Intelligence and Operations.  

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Understand the customer demographics & buying behaviors within the category and align the product mix, product pricing & product placement to achieve the revenue, margin, promotional dollars & inventory turn growth goals.
  • Manage and grow categories through product and vendor selection utilizing strategic analysis and customer feedback.
  • Conduct monthly category reviews and report to executive team.
  • Build successful partnerships with vendors that bring value to our customers and our business as a whole.
  • Continually renegotiate discount terms & promotional support with vendors to leverage our buying power and reach within the industry.
  • Communicate key category/sales information to appropriate teams (Operations, Marketing, Finance, A/P, Merchandising).
  • Manage inventory turns and levels, product selection, vendor management, promotions, pricing, and new item introductions.

Position Requirements:

  • A passion for Customer Service (this is first for a reason!)
  • BA or BS Degree preferably in Business, Marketing, Finance or related field
  • 4+ years experience as a Category Manager, Buyer, or similar role
  • Sports Nutrition or Dietary Supplement industry experience preferred
  • Direct experience in leading complex negotiations
  • Excellent analytical, problem solving and organizational skills required
  • Excellent verbal and written communications skills, as well as outstanding aptitude for time management
  • Effective leadership skills and commitment to mentoring, coaching and developing a team of direct reports
  • Innovator, who can operate autonomously and make complex decisions in situations of ambiguity and time pressure
  • Must possess excellent computer skills with a proficiency in Excel, PowerPoint, Word & Outlook
  • Strong ability to be organized and manage multiple initiatives
  • Travel up to 20%

Applications for this position are being coordinated by Harry Joiner. To apply, CLICK HERE Candidates, please be sure to email Harry Joiner 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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