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We are working with Harman International in their search for a Director of Ecommerce – Home & Multimedia, America’s Region based in Northridge, CA. Harman is the worldwide leader in the manufacture of high-quality, high-fidelity audio and electronic products for automotive, consumer and professional use. It is the parent company behind an array of legendary brands that includes Harman Kardon®, JBL®, Mark Levinson® and Infinity®.
Background on the Role:
The recently formed Lifestyle Division along with the Home & Multimedia SBU is charged with re-energizing all of Harman’s Consumer Businesses. It coincides with the company committing to its largest-ever marketing investment. Brand relevance will come from a combination of a compelling segmentation strategy, a differentiated product roadmap, significant brand investments, and in-market execution.
Harman seeks a highly seasoned ecommerce leader who can leverage the firm’s marketing and product development investments to create a world class ecommerce presence. The role will report directly to Harman’s VP & General Manager, Home & Multimedia, for its America’s Region.
HARRY’S COMMENTS: This is a huge opportunity on every conceivable level. Harman is the leader in the global marketplace for high fidelity audio and infotainment products. The company’s major line of business supplies the Automotive Industry with audio systems and infotainment systems.
When you think about BMWs, Lexus, and Mercedes, all of the coolest audio & infotainment technology in these cars comes from Harman. The firm has been in the audio business for 55 years, and today the company has $4 billion in revenue.
Additionally, Harman has a Professional Division which supports the end to end engineering, manufacturing and installation of installed sound and touring sound for large venues, stadiums and concert halls like Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium, the Beijing Olympics, and the LA Forum.
This ecommerce position resides within Harman’s Lifestyle Division which has two main business units: car audio and consumer electronics. Harman’s products include stereo receivers, amplifiers, loudspeakers, ipod/ipad docking stations, home systems and car-aftermarket audio products — many of which are promoted by artists like Jennifer Lopez, Paul McCartney and Maroon 5. Without getting into specifics, please know that this is a sizable online business with aggressive goals.
The US audio and video equipment manufacturing industry includes about 450 companies with an annual revenue of ~$7 billion. Major players include Harman, Bose, and US manufacturing divisions of foreign firms like Panasonic and Toshiba. In the US, the industry’s 50 largest companies control nearly 90% of the revenue, and many of these companies are doing a very brisk online business, both directly to consumers and through channel partners like BestBuy, Walmart, Target and Amazon.
Currently, Harman is transacting online at JBL.com, but both the team and the size of the current business pale in comparison to the potential. Very quickly, for Harman’s domestic business the new Director of Ecommerce must …
- Demonstrate that he/she can build out the team,
- Begin to significantly improve online operations, and
- Develop a plan for the robust growth of Harman’s domestic online business.
My regular readers have heard me note the difference between “pie-rearranging” ecommerce and “pie-enlarging” ecommerce. That concept applies here: Harman has long-established, very valuable trade relationships with companies like Best Buy. It is essential that the Director of Ecommerce work with Harman’s national sales teams to develop a business that complements, not cannibalizes, its current channels. Given the company’s pipeline of new products and value-added services, there are ample ways to use the online channel for the benefit of all Harman stakeholders.
I have had several conversations with Harman’s senior executives in charge of the search, and here are my key takeaways:
- The business has huge potential, both domestically and internationally.
- The company’s pipeline of elegantly designed, technologically advanced products is incredibly healthy.
- The company sees a tremendous opportunity to expand into mobile car aftermarket and personal audio.
- Harman needs a seasoned executive with a proven track record of establishing a successful ecommerce channel in a similar environment or category. (I have a list of categories of interest.)
This will be a challenging job, and in light of the job’s strategic planning and international market assessment requirements, the ideal candidate will likely have an MBA from a top 20 school.
There is nothing small about this role: The compensation is big, the bonus is big, the responsibilities and challenges are enormous, the visibility is great, and the opportunity for personal and professional growth is significant.
- Work with VP & GM America’s region and regional team members to define the regional ecommerce vision & strategy.
- Define, identify, and implement customer acquisition strategies for all America’s online marketing channels.
- Analyze and assess the effectiveness of all existing America’s ecommerce operations and current needs based on new technology and market competition.
- Evaluate market share and competition.
- Develop the business plan and annual operating budget for the America’s ecommerce function.
- Ecommerce America’s P&L responsibility for annual web sales targets and profitability.
- Oversee the day to day ecommerce operations, merchandising, maintenance, and performance measurement of the web site effectiveness.
- Help drive the social web marketing strategy as it relates to customer acquisition supported by Harman corporate marketing function.
- Work closely with Lifestyle Divisional operations team to ensure the entire web sales process exceeds expectations on product availability, quality and order processing timeliness.
- Business Competence – strategic experience in ecommerce strategy formulation, implementation and management (preferably in the consumer electronics industry)
- 8-10 year’s proven successful experience in creating and implementing industry leading ecommerce strategies focused on sales generation.
- Understanding of ecommerce business models for the consumer electronics industry Including trends, competitors, distribution channels, customer base, promotion and products.
- Technical competence – Solid experience and grasp of IT functionality, web technology & structure, order apps, payment systems and inventory management.
- Skilled in search engine optimization (SEO), SEM, paid search, affiliate, CPA, email and other media along with strong web sales/marketing background.
- Consumer electronics experience – Experience working with major consumer electronics or products in the ecommerce channel.
- BS Degree is required, MBA preferred
- Strategically and operationally strong – Ability to synthesize complex information into a simple strategy and then execute against this strategy.
- Strong consumer products orientation – Keen understanding of consumer wants and needs that can be effectively applied to creating market-winning ecommerce sales strategies.
- Solid planning and organization skills – Ability to manage complex projects and schedules necessary with large regional ecommerce roles.
- Good collaboration skills – Ability to effectively collaborate with people and teams from all functions within Harman plus full range of industry consumer customers.
- Demonstrated creativity and out-of-the box thinking – Constantly pushing new ideas and programs to solve sales and market challenges.
- Business acumen – Solid business and financial background.
- Other Requirements: Willingness to travel 10% of the time.
- Willingness to submit to a background screen and a drug test
Applications for this position are being coordinated by Harry Joiner. To apply, please email your resume directly to Harry. Be sure to ask Harry for the 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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