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We are working with Rapala USA in their search for an Director of Ecommerce based in Minnetonka, MN. Rapala VMC is the global market leader in fishing lures, treble hooks and fishing related knives and tools. The company also has a strong global position in other fishing categories and it is one of the leading distributors of outdoor, hunting and winter sport products in the Nordic countries. The Group has the largest distribution network in the industry.

The main manufacturing facilities are located in Finland (which is to fishing lure production what Hollywood is to movies and Switzerland is to watches), France, Estonia, Russia, China, Indonesia and the UK. The company’s brand portfolio includes the leading brands in the industry, Rapala, Storm, Blue Fox, Luhr Jensen, Williamson, VMC, Sufix, Terminator and Trigger X. The company had net sales of EUR 279 million in 2011 and employs ~2,000 people in 37 countries. Rapala’s shares are traded on the NASDAQ OMX Helsinki stock exchange. You can download Rapala’s Q2 investor presentation here.

HARRY’S COMMENTS: I love doing searches for fishing companies. Fantastic market. In 2011, I closed searches for both Simms Fishing and Pure Fishing, and both times the winning candidate was an angler who begged me to help them get the job. That’s a deal with anglers. They comprise one of the most rabid consumer market niches on the planet. Like brides-to-be or Harley-Davidson owners or pro wrestling fans: Anglers are passionate to the point of insanity about their hobby.

And there are lots of them, too. And, boy do they spend! According to the latest US Fish and Wildlife Service report, nearly 40,000,000 licensed anglers generate over $45 billion in retail sales with $125 billion in impact on America’s economy. Recreational fishing is a huge business, and if sport fishing were a Corporation, it would rank somewhere above Bank of America or IBM on the Fortune 500. It’s an amazing market filled with regular folks who would rather fish than do anything else in the world.

And here’s the hook: All of them use Rapala’s products.

Which is why to get this job, you’ll need to be an angler. For real. We want an angler in this role. Very important. Rapala has grown 3x in the last 10 years and now it needs a seasoned ecommerce pro to take the company’s online business to the next level. And we need someone who can relate deeply to these customers.

The company is the world’s leading manufacturer and marketer of fishing lures, hooks, and knives and it sells those things into 140 countries around the world. In America, the secret to Rapala’s success is that it does its own manufacturing, marketing, and distribution. It’s vertically integrated – meaning it is the only entity that touches its products before they are sold through its valued channel partners like Walmart, Dick’s, Cabela’s, and BassPro Shops. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a more thoroughly distributed product: Rapala sells through more than 20,000 retail doors via distributors and manufacturers reps. In addition, Rapala also sells in the B2B and B2C arenas.

And they manage to do this without alienating anyone.

That’s because Rapala produces more than 13,000 SKUs and there is not one retailer that carries all of its products. At most, a retailer might offer 3500 Rapala products. So, if you are a very particular angler (and ALL anglers are very particular) and you need a Rapala lure in a certain size, color, or weight, then the only place you are likely to find exactly what you need is at Rapala.com

The depth and breadth of Rapala’s is going to make this job a lot of fun. The company’s brands include Williamson, made for offshore and very big fish; Terminator for Bass fishing; and nearly a dozen other well loved brands. 11 of the company’s brands are live online, and the other 2 will be online shortly.

The company’s commitment to innovation means you’ll never be bored.

New product is critical to the company’s growth because the fishing business is really all about selling new products to all customers. The fishing industry hasn’t seen an explosion of new fishermen entering the business in several years, and when Rapala acquires new customers, frequently they are dislodging them from Rapala’s competitors.

Once these anglers become Rapala customers, it’s essential that the company continue to offer new and improved lures to keep these anglers buying. And buy they do! During lean economic times, anglers actually fish more. During the most recent downturn, Rapala’s business actually increased. Imagine how much product you could sell if these anglers could actually find every known Rapala lure online.

And it’s not just new products that will keep the company growing. It’s new markets, too. Consider ice fishing. Ice fishermen are an incredibly passionate subculture, and an auger costs more than $500. A shelter might cost $500 as well. Electronics cost more than $500 easily. It’s a crazy niche, but the underlying economics of it are very favorable due to online retail.

This is a whole new market segment for Rapala.

Overall, this is going to be a fantastic opportunity for someone. It’s based in Minneapolis. Cold, but at least you’ll be close to the ice fishing. Check out what you’ll be doing in the role …


  • Oversee and Execute Overall e-Marketing Strategy: Execute objectives and strategies (brand, product, pricing and international strategies); Manage budget and establish e-marketing program as a separate profitable business segment (within the Rapala US budget)
  • Customer Service: Manage the overall customer service function; Interface with IT and Operations in the areas of fulfillment, service level, security, customer returns, etc.
  • B2C Market Development: Interface with Sales, Marketing and Operations on all online selling initiatives (inventory, pricing, messaging, etc); Interface with Demandware; Merchandising (promos, special buys and possible online loyalty program); Participate in apparel sales program (licensed); SEO/SEM; Analytics (continual testing/analysis/adjust/fine tune); Testing of subject lines, content, design, offers, calls-to-action, and Develop suggestive selling campaigns.
  • B2B Market Development: Develop new site on Demandware platform; Manage Pro Staff/VIP and promotions; Work with Sales Team to develop online promotions to the trade.
  • Websites: Daily maintenance (load all 2013 product); Continue to build impactful content
  • e-RapUps and e-Splash: Interface with Traditions Media; Dbase management, market segmentation and development; Test segmented e-mail campaigns (saltwater, bass, walleye, etc.)
  • Social and Mobile Media (including FB, Linked-In, Blogging, Webinars, iCasts, etc); Proactive posting; Monitor and respond to issues.
  • e-Advertising: Manage online e-advertising campaign (banner ads, etc.); Youtube; Proactive posting; Site maintenance; Domain names; Maintenance; Share resources with trade customers, customers outside the US etc.

UPDATE: This search is closed.

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