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We are working with our friends at PetSmart in their search for an Online Category Merchandising Manager based in Phoenix, AZ. Many of you readers might remember PetSmart from a search we did for them last year. It’s a great company, busting with opportunity for digitally fueled omnichannel growth.

PetSmart is the largest specialty pet retailer of services and solutions for the lifetime needs of pets. The firm operates more than 1,232 stores in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, providing a broad range of competitively priced pet food and pet products; services including pet training, pet grooming, pet boarding and pet adoption services. In addition to providing great value, the company offers the broadest, deepest product range in the industry, including thousands of products exclusive to PetSmart. And it’s constantly on the prowl for innovative new products that can help its customers give their pets long, happy lives.


The Online Merchandiser plays a key role in translating merchandising strategies and overall eCommerce strategy into the online shopping experience. Reporting to the Senior Manager of Online Merchandising and Presentation, the Online Merchandiser will drive decisions that increase online conversion through online analytics, improving product presentation, navigation, cross-sells and other cross merchandising opportunities. They will focus on continuous optimization and innovation, using all available analytics as well as merchant intuition.

The person in this position will work closely with the Merchandising, Buying, Creative, Customer Experience and IT teams to enhance and merchandise the online assortment, product information, category information for

HARRY’S COMMENTS: Each year, I conduct 100+ project kickoff calls, and one of the things I try to understand very quickly is where are my client’s easiest opportunities to realize revenue growth. In PetSmart’s case, the company’s new Director of Ecommerce, Daryl Millar, has already established that the company can improve its conversion rate by making it much easier for customers to find what they need on the site. Daryl is rebuilding the website from top to bottom and it’s a perfect opportunity to join the team and help drive the strategy of the site.

Initially, that’s what this job is about.

This position will be responsible for managing a team that defines the taxonomy on the website, making tweaks to the product categorization, proper attributes to improve navigation from the customer experience standpoint, developing content strategy for photography and copy, utilizing analytics to drive decisions and developing merchandising strategies by each major category … and that’s just to start. They weren’t kidding when they said that they are redefining their website.

This role will require the new hire to become deeply involved in issues related to taxonomy improvements, online merchandising, and analytics. Additionally, the new hire will need to work across multiple functions and solve certain questions like:

  • What is the overall merchandising strategy be for the site? How should the strategy differ between dog vs. cat and live animals?
  • How should we name certain products? What should we call them on the site? What should the standardized naming convention by across the site?
  • What should the metadata be as we are setting up a product for sale? How can we optimize natural search by utilizing relevant data?
  • What does the marketing department need to know about what PetSmart’s online customers to better describe products so that they are more easily retrievable?
  • What should the photo standards be by category? When should we invest in additional photography to help the customer research and make a purchase decision?
  • Should PetSmart increase the amount of content on the site? When will videos help drive online conversion?

Your job is to improve the PetSmart UX in 5 key areas:

  1. Finding – To help shoppers find the right areas of the site where product is described.
  2. Selecting – Giving the shopper enough information to select the right products for them, and helping them tell the difference between PetSmart’s offerings.
  3. Deciding – Helping shoppers determine if the selected products will meet their needs and desires.
  4. Carting – Helping shoppers get the right product into their shopping carts.
  5. Checkout – Helping shoppers complete the checkout process in place their orders.

In your first 100 days on the job, PetSmart would expect you to have your arms around many of these issues. Additionally, the company would like you to learn its culture and develop a roadmap which prioritizes these improvements.

The ideal candidate will have 6 years of online merchandising management experience with a reputable retailer, preferably at a big box. If you have online buying experience, that’s a huge plus.

This is a high visibility role with an industry-leader in a growing industry: According to a recent report from the American Pet Products Association, pet spending grew 5.3% in 2011 from 2010 to a high of $50.9 billion. Spending in 2012 is expected to grow 4% to reach $53 billion. If you’re an animal lover, now’s the time to apply.

ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES (include, but are not limited to):

Product and Category Management

  • Manage the presentation of the online assortment, including product information, taxonomy, category information and website merchandising
  • Partner cross-functionally with creative and content departments to define content strategy for product images, copy and product videos. Drives the online content strategy based on customer and competitive insights, brand strategy and e-commerce goals and initiatives and continuously tests changes to determine impact to the overall customer experience and conversion
  • Develop strategies to merchandise assortment for both inline and extend aisle while supporting enterprise merchandising strategies.
  • Proactively recommend enhancements to site to automate management of merchandising efforts
  • Work with the store and online buyers on merchandising new products, site promotions, vendor funded initiatives and brand stores
  • Keep abreast of opportunities with external vendors related to online merchandising
  • Review and analyze online competitor site merchandising, promotional execution and tactics, user experience, product representation and taxonomy. Report findings and provide appropriate counter-strategies when appropriate.


  • Research feedback from all available resources: customer service, customer feedback reporting, product ratings and reviews, social media, store partners and utilize the information to optimize the site and improve site metrics
  • Manage site to ensure merchandise assortment, product categorization and taxonomy maximizes sales and is effectively presented to the customer across all categories
  • Define and maintain site navigation – creating and removing categories as needed based on merchandising and marketing strategies, merchant reporting and web analytics
  • Analyze sales and web metrics to take action to improve site conversion and optimize site performance
  • Partners with the Site Experience team to develop special shop concepts, page layouts, and navigation to support category directives and strategies
  • Use online analytics to research opportunities to refine product copy in order to improve conversion and provide better search results in product descriptions and metadata
  • Product Recommendations – define business rules to optimize cross sell recommendations for the category
  • Product Ratings & Reviews – Leverage product ratings and reviews for product insight and ideas for marketing. Proactively respond to customer feedback when appropriate
  • Provide weekly reporting to online team to provide insight into any updates that should be made in marketing plans
  • Monitor new site features to determine if performance is effective and report to the web team
  • Creates and presents seasonal ecommerce recap document for the category; analyzes user behavior, site metrics and relates findings to sales/site performance. Recommends strategies for future seasons based upon findings. Presents to leadership and core merchandising/buying partners.
  • Perform all other assigned duties

KEY COMPETENCIES (include, but are not limited to the following):

Knowledge Skills and Abilities

  • Strong analytical skills – must be able to assemble and interpret data, create executive summaries and deliver business insights
  • Excellent time management, multi-tasking, and organizational skills
  • A strong understanding of merchandise hierarchy
  • Strong computer skills, including proficiency with Microsoft office applications, including intermediate capabilities with Excel and Word
  • High degree of internet savvy, with a curiosity and enthusiasm for digital and media trends
  • Excellent problem solving skills – able to identify, analyze and propose solutions to various technical and business issues
  • Above average command of English; proficiency with a variety of writing styles
  • Good design aesthetic and a strong ability to judge visual appearance, ensuring alignment with brand and enterprise standards
  • Demonstrated ability to work in a fast-paced, “self-starter” environment serving as a catalyst for change and managing multiple workstreams simultaneously
  • The ability to understand and explain complex issues, but also clearly identify and communicate the situation at a high level
  • The ability to use and understand financial and numerical data to make decisions and influence outcomes
  • Ability to synthesize data, identify trends and recommend viable solutions
  • Exhibit professional initiative and entrepreneurial drive


  • Bachelors degree in Business, Merchandising, Marketing or equivalent work experience
  • 6-8 years of merchandising experience
  • 4+ years of experience in digital visual merchandising or eCommerce
  • 4+ years of experience utilizing online analytics to optimize sales and customer experience
  • 4+ years of experience in online buying


  • 4+ years of experience working with an online platform (GSI, WCA, or equivalent)
  • 2+ years of experience working with analytics package (Omniture, Coremetrics or equivalent)
  • 2+ years of SEO knowledge preferred

Applications for this position are being coordinated by Harry Joiner. To apply, CLICK HERECandidates, 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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