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We are working with The Wet Seal, Inc. in their search for a Marketing Director, Ecommerce. Wet seal is a national specialty retailer operating stores selling fashionable and contemporary apparel and accessory items designed for female customers aged 15 to 39 years old. As of this writing, the company operates 558 stores in 47 states and Puerto Rico. Here’s a video of their 2011 model search

HARRY’S COMMENTS: Wet Seal operates primarily mall-based store concepts under the names “Wet Seal” and Arden B.” Although the two brands have many similarities, there are important differences between them: Wet Seal is primarily a junior apparel brand for girls aged 15 to 23, while Arden B is a fashion brand at value price points for contemporary women aged 25 to 39.

The company’s Wet Seal and Arden B stores compete with specialty apparel retailers, department stores, and other apparel retailers including Abercrombie and Fitch, Aeropostale, American Eagle, Anthropologie, Banana Republic, BCBG, bebe, Charlotte Russe, and Express. This is an exciting time to be in the fashion industry, and with Wet Seal, you’ll be front row, center.

While both of Wet Seal’s concepts maintain ecommerce stores designed to serve as an extension of their in-store counterparts, the company does not consider its web-based business to be a distinct reportable segment.

The company’s competitive strengths include its experienced management team and its strong financial position, which includes net cash representing 53% of its equity market cap. (That’s a ton of cash, folks.)

How will Wet Seal leverage those strengths?

The company has identified several significant opportunities to improve revenues and drive sales productivity and it is concentrating on growth in same-store sales vis-à-vis its in-store base. Specifically, the company intends to …

Develop a customer obsession: With the goal of making the customer the number 1 priority for both brands, recently Wet Seal undertook a massive customer research initiative which focused on determining its target customers wants and aspirations, likes and dislikes, why she did or did not shop in the company’s stores, and competitively where she shopped and why. As a result of the research, Wet Seal uncovered many key opportunities for improvement that the company believes will allow to enhance its customers’ shopping experience.

Understand and redefine its brands: In light of its findings, the company is refining its “brand DNA” for both divisions, and it has developed a clear and concise brand proposition for both brands. This DNA will be reflected in both its stores and online as well as in the broader marketplace.

Improve its marketing: On the back of its new “brand DNA,” Wet Seal intends to make investments around both brands, and it plans to enhance its ecommerce sites as marketing vehicles for its stores, including social networking. WS also plans to focus on direct marketing programs and in-store visual merchandising.

Expand its ecommerce business: Wet Seal plans to better align its ecommerce CRM initiatives with its store loyalty programs. Additionally, the company intends to expand ecommerce only offerings in certain key merchandise categories while improving ecommerce inventory planning and allocation practices. Beginning in May 2011, it began to more closely align its ecommerce shopping experience with its stores, which resulted in better alignment of the company’s merchandise assortment and promotional messaging between its websites and stores.

Other ecommerce successes have included the addition of social media features to the company’s website, as well as the implementation of a cross channel mobile phone application which allows its customers to design, rate, and by outfits. Its website features allow the company to sell internationally.

Enough already! What’s the job?

As the Number 2 person in the ecommerce group, you will report directly to David Towers, the company’s new VP of Ecommerce. I have known David for years, and he’s amazing. Incredibly smart. Very business-oriented, yet laid-back and easy to talk to.

“This position will very much be a partnership with me.” -David Towers

This is a senior position within the company, and you will have direct relationships with the president and CEO. You won’t report directly to them, but you will be leading a weekly ecommerce status meeting in the CEO conference room with the company’s top executives. Ecommerce is that important to them.

The ideal candidate can be a senior manager or a director currently. You’ll have 3 direct reports and lead a team of 13. The main idea is that “this is a fantastic opportunity to learn how to be a VP of Ecommerce.” (Dave actually said that.) You must be incredibly strong in web marketing, but this is an effective way to fill in the gaps in your background in merchandising, fulfillment, and technology. In other words, Dave’s goal is to turn you into a full-time GM either at Wet Seal or somewhere else. If that’s not the mark of a people builder, I don’t know what is.

During my 90 minute project kickoff call with David, most of my copious notes center on the expertise you will need to bring to this party:

  • Affiliate marketing
  • Comparison-shopping / Online marketplaces
  • Customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Email marketing
  • Loyalty and promotion management
  • Search engine marketing (SEM, PPC)
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Social media
  • Web analytics, and
  • Mobile commerce

In other words, you’ll need world-class experience in all of these areas (especially PPC, Email, and CRM) in order to be taken seriously as a candidate. The money for this role is phenomenal, and the upside potential for you, personally and professionally, is off the charts.

But we’re not going to give this job to just anyone.

The ideal candidate will have fashion experience. But even if you don’t, that’s okay as long as you are smart, savvy, and able to function in a fashion environment. Meaning, you must be able to work in a lean, team environment. Wet Seal feels like a small company in terms of its character, so you’ll need to be able to roll up your sleeves. Additionally, you’ll have to work across multiple functions including merchandising, procurement, logistics, fulfillment, warehousing, etc.


  • Develop a comprehensive CRM strategy for the ecommerce business including name collection, segmentation, data cleansing and a full assessment of existing and potential technologies. Assess existing loyalty programs and revise as needed to improve repeat customer visits & purchases. Apply cross-channel tactics to increase web and store traffic.
  • Lead Wet Seal’s strategic and tactical email marketing capabilities. Drive initiatives that increase list size, open rate, conversion and ROI. Review creative and conduct A/B testing for effectiveness. Evaluate email delivery & other vendors to determine the optimal long-term partnerships for the business.
  • Lead strategy and manage execution for SEO. Drive performance, session increase and conversion with low cost & high ROI. Utilize knowledge of SEO best practices to guide website production & IT teams with detailed requirements. Identify and manage 3rd party services or consultants as needed.
  • Lead strategy and manage execution for SEM, affiliate marketing, retargeting, comparison shopping engines, display, and other paid media. Deliver increase in quality traffic with low cost and high ROI.
  • Oversee the production of Wet Seal and Arden B websites. Create disciplined production processes that incorporate the activities of creative, merchant and marketing teams. Ensure that all areas of the websites are updated with relevant and timely content. Implement A/B testing capability.
  • Optimize the Wet Seal and Arden B websites by leading and championing projects that drive conversion including checkout process, cross-selling, outfitter, site cleanup and wish list. Discover project opportunities with high ROI through detailed analysis of customer & website data.
  • Oversee the Wet Seal digital photo studio responsible for all product imagery and copy. Partner with merchants teams toward improvement of creative assets.


  • 5+ years of experience in apparel ecommerce.
  • 3+ years managing staff in a leadership role.
  • Detailed understanding of end-to-end ecommerce processes.
  • Exceptional strategic thinking & evaluation skills.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.


  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience. MBA preferred.


  • Requires strong knowledge of MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Outlook.
  • Requires managerial knowledge of HTML, CSS, and Photoshop.
  • Requires strong knowledge of ecommerce platforms, marketing software, principles of web design, mobile and social media.
  • Best-in-class project management skills; ability to effectively manage several projects simultaneously.
  • High level of personal integrity, ability to professionally handle confidential matters, and reflect appropriate level of judgment and maturity.
  • Effective organization skills, ability to learn quickly, be accurate and timely in completing responsibilities, with strong attention to detail.
  • Strong group facilitation skills with the ability to build consensus across a disparate group of team members & business functions.


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