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We are working with FreshDirect in their search for a Director of IT – Ecommerce Technology based in Queens, NY. This is one of the ecommerce technology jobs on the market.

FreshDirect is the leading profitable online grocer in the U.S. with customers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. It is known for its fresh-from-the-farm foods and brand-name groceries at everyday low prices, all delivered to customers’ doors. FreshDirect’s food experts rate all produce and seafood every morning and give each item an Expert Quality Rating to help customers choose what is best and in-season. FreshDirect customers can enjoy over 600 Entrees and Side Dishes, made fresh daily by professional chefs using the finest, freshest ingredients.

Check out this FreshDirect feature on CNN …

Position Summary:

The Director of IT – Ecommerce Technology will be responsible for the successful delivery of all Web Projects & E-business solutions. They will maintain FreshDirect’s online competitiveness by developing current internet capabilities, and development of additional functions and capabilities. They will coordinate and shape the IT direction by establishing priorities and matching Web and Mobile Commerce solutions to business plans while working in strong partnership with the business.

HARRY’S COMMENTS: FreshDirect is the leading online grocer in the USA, and this role represents an opportunity to have a material impact on the firm’s ecommerce business. More than a decade after the idea of online grocery shopping was first introduced; consumers are really warming to the idea: According to Forrester Research, US consumers are forecasted to buy $21 billion of groceries online in 2016, a 52% jump over 2012 levels.

It’s a great time to be an online grocer.

FreshDirect is currently ranked 75th on the Internet Retailer Top 500. The firm has been growing at double digits in the last few years and will surpass $400 million in sales this year. The company is a pure play online retailer.

From an IT standpoint, when you think about the FreshDirect business, it’s useful to think of it in three major buckets:

  1. The storefront
  2. Production and warehousing, which is how the firm fulfills orders, and
  3. Transportation, which involves getting the order from the Fresh Direct DC to the consumer’s home or office

This role involves management of the storefront, which until now has lacked a dedicated IT executive. Historically, Fresh Direct has had outside agencies to assist with things like web development, but the firm has a custom-built platform and a pressing need to enhance its capabilities with the latest off-the-shelf technologies, so the time is right to add this position to FreshDirect’s IT lineup.

Reporting to CIO Larry Roos, a primary purpose for this role is to ensure that the company markets to different customers differently, improving its ability to customize things like cross-sells, up-sells, delivery options, and pricing as much as possible to help customers replace their visits to the grocery store with deliveries from FreshDirect. Additionally, Larry notes that currently Fresh Direct doesn’t materially differentiate its residential UX from its office/business UX.

The time may be right to review that situation.

Larry observes that FreshDirect’s office customers are growing at a promising rate, and the company likes that customer cohort given its strong retention rate. As usual, EcommerceRecruiter has a tremendous amount of information on the underlying economics of the client’s business, including average order values, although we are not at liberty to share those here. Suffice it to say, this is a well-run business with excellent future prospects.

According to Larry, the company is in the process of changing its navigation, functionality, and storefront in addition to replacing its content management system. Users can expect a materially different look and feel to the site in the coming months. Accordingly, the new Director of IT – eCommerce Technology can expect to be involved in the following projects:

  • Replacing the content management system
  • Simplifying the SKU creation and maintenance process, which Larry believes can be solved with existing off-the-shelf product information management software on the market.
  • CRM, broadly speaking. “Call it personalization, segmentation, whatever you want. This is a big opportunity for all companies in this arena.”
  • Contributing to the firm’s mobile and tablet strategies. According to Larry, more and more consumers are shopping and buying through tablets and mobile devices, “and we don’t see that trend ending ever.”

Beyond these initial projects, this role will have a material impact on improving the site’s ability to handle FreshDirect’s geographic expansion, processing, and ability to deliver items out of multiple warehouses. I’m happy to go into greater detail with candidates on this particular issue.

Regarding culture …

In general, the atmosphere at FreshDirect is good-natured and results-oriented.. According to Larry, “It’s all about growing the business and working together. There’s an entrepreneurial spirit here, and we’re constantly looking for ways to add value to our customer’s lives. It’s a very collaborative environment!”

Larry continues, “This is great time to be at FreshDirect. We’re bringing in a world-class management team who has worked for sophisticated Fortune 500 companies. They have seen what “world-class” looks like and they know what it takes to deliver unsurpassed value to customers in a lean, efficient way. It’s all about taking the company to the next level: This is why FreshDirect is looking outside for this role.

“We want this person to bring new skills and abilities to the company, as well as new ways of seeing things. For example, it’s critical that the new Director have a highly effective process for managing RFPs. Additionally, we need someone who knows how to manage clean integrations – minus the cost and scope creeps. The new Director is inheriting a great team of people. This is not a turnaround.”

Should you apply for the role? Possibly, assuming you feel good about your ability to answer the following questions:

  1. Have you ever implemented a content management or ecommerce platform? What went right? What went wrong? Discuss.
  2. Have you ever designed or built a mobile application? Step us through what you did and how it worked.
  3. Are you PMP certified? If so, be prepared to walk us through your process for managing projects.
  4. What’s your take on software delivery cycles? How can they be improved? Be prepared to support your point of view with specific examples.
  5. What ecommerce experience to you have? In general, do you see ecommerce technologies as a means to greater customer intimacy? Why, or why not?
  6. What front-end ecommerce solutions have you integrated? How’d that work out?
  7. In terms of its revenue, what’s the size of your company’s current direct-to-consumer ecom business? How many SKUs does your company sell? From how many DCs does it ship? How have you managed that complexity? Be specific.

At the end of the day, FreshDirect is not looking for someone whose primary responsibilities have centered around UX, web design, online marketing, SEO, loyalty marketing, and so forth. The client is looking for an A-player with a granular knowledge of project management, technical business requirements, ecommerce solution integration, ecommerce web architecture, and experience with emerging ecommerce technologies, including HTML 5, CSS 3, JavaScript, and mobile.

This is much more of the technical backend role than a front-end design role. If that appeals to you and you have a teachable point of view on the issues outlined above, we’d love to hear from you.

Essential Functions:

  • Lead the replacement of FreshDirect’s content management systems
  • Responsible for the Technology Architecture/Web Enablement Strategy decisions for projects based on production considerations, infrastructure impacts, and project budget implications
  • Responsible for Web Enablement-Service Delivery
  • Accountable for delivery and stability of all Production Web Services
  • Establish monitoring and response procedures to alert based on critical thresholds to prevent customer issues wherever possible
  • Ensures reliable operation of web services, including prompt reaction and resolution of production problems
  • Ensure compliance with change control processes
  • Monitor and recommend the latest advancements in web hardware, software, security, and networks
  • Lead communication and give direction with support service groups to ensure appropriate notification during outages or periods of degraded system performance
  • Provide guidance & input to technical and architectural decisions for projects based on production and hosting considerations, infrastructure impacts, and project budget implications

Supervision Received:

  • Plans, designs, and carries out programs, projects, studies, or other work independently. Receives little or no supervision from Teamleader

Supervisory Duties:

Trains, assigns work to, and checks work of two (2) or more Teammembers; participates in the decision to hire, fire, and promote Teammembers; does not conduct the same work as Teammembers

Minimum Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s Degree required. Computer Science, Business or Mathematics preferred
  • No less than ten (10) years of Industry experience with three (3) years management experience
  • Experience with software selection, RFP processes and software development lifecycles
  • Previous IT Web Enablement leadership experience in Fortune 500 Company
  • Previously have done CMS and E-Commerce platform replacement implementations
  • Experience with multiple content management systems and E-Commerce platforms is a big plus
  • Ecommerce or retail experience preferred
  • Integration with SAP would be preferable
  • Ability to be on call for support 24×7

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

  • Expertise with three-tier application architectures, load balancing, and content distribution networks
  • Deep understanding of SQL Database Functionality, Administration, and Architecture
  • Deep expertise and experience in solving complex client technical challenges across technologies/environments
  • Hands-on experience with multiple technology stacks and infrastructure platforms
  • Familiar with multiple code management and version control approaches
  • Java experience required
  • Ability to learn quickly and apply technical innovations to environment
  • Solid understanding of all capabilities required to execute marketing initiatives
  • Solid track record of successfully developing projects from start to completion, on time and within budget
  • Thinks clearly and diplomatically when participating in a discussion to field complex or sensitive questions
  • Excellent communication skills, particularly in conjunction with technical topics and the ability to communicate with non-technical audiences
  • Proven record of strong work ethic and reliability and accountability
  • Strong attention to detail with the ability to manage priorities in a fast-paced environment
  • Exhibits strong listening skills and the ability to tactfully communicate position on relevant issues
  • Encourages and rewards examples of teamwork and collaborative work efforts
  • Demonstrates ability to define and implement professional standards for team participation, conflict resolution, problem solving, and communication
  • Confident problem anticipation and resolution willingness to have difficult conversations
  • Strong team builder with client and cross-capability teams, clarifying roles and expectations
  • Demonstrated ability to deliver constructive feedback and get positive results, including mentoring and facilitating development plans

Applications for this position are being coordinated by Allan Seibert. To apply, CLICK HERECandidates, please be sure to email Allan 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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