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We are working with TDBBS (aka “Best Bully Sticks”) in their search for an Ecommerce Manager based in Richmond, VA. This is definitely one of the coolest Ecommerce Manager jobs around …

TDBBS specializes in bully sticks, elk antlers, and other natural, high protein dog chews that are highly digestible and are becoming increasingly popular among dog owners across the U.S. and abroad. In addition to bully sticks, the company also offers a wide variety of complementary all natural dog treats and chews to consumers through its proprietary ecommerce sites and also through other retail channels.

Founded by Avrum and Lauren Elmakis in 2007, TDBBS has achieved extraordinary growth since inception and was ranked #384 in Inc. Magazine’s 2012 “Inc. 500” ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies.

The Ecommerce Manager is responsible for meeting planned online sales and gross margin goals. The role entails increasing online conversion through online analytics, user experience, and on-site merchandising and increasing attachment rate by improving cross-sells and other cross merchandising opportunities. The eCommerce Manager will work with the creative team to develop online content that is engaging and consistent with the brand.

Additionally, s/he works with the marketing and supply chain teams to develop online merchandising strategies, including category management, promos, and co-marketing efforts with vendors. He or she will develop and track key performance indicators for all items sold through the online channel. Ownership and optimization of the commerce funnel is critical to the performance of this functional area.

HARRY’S COMMENTS: It didn’t take Best Bully’s new Director of Ecomerce, Gus Milla, very long to convince Avrum Elmakis, the firm’s CEO, to invest in the necessary headcount required to take full advantage of the market opportunity right in front of Best Bully Sticks. This brand new Ecommerce Manager role is a byproduct of those discussions.

This is our third executive search for Best Bully, and my personal love of this client and the pet market is well documented:

The US pet and pet supply store industry includes about 18,800 stores with combined annual revenue of about $12 billion and is forecast to grow at a high rate in the next two years. The number of households in the US that own a pet is at a record high and continues to increase; 4-out-of-10 pet owning households own multiple pets, and many people spoil their pets on a regular basis. Key industry drivers of growth include increasing income levels, as well as a trend toward pet humanization, or treating pets like family members.

The purpose of the Ecommerce Manager role is to improve the way Best Bully interacts with its customers online. This role is not about ecommerce marketing, per se: It’s about improving the user experience and better understanding how to get the site’s visitors through the conversion funnel.

To hear Gus tell it, “Currently, we treat all of our customers the same way: The person who spends $100 gets the same treatment as a customer who spent $2000. Likewise, the person who buys once a year gets treated the same way as someone who buys 12 times per year. We’d like to treat different customers differently, and we’d like to improve the user experience so that we cater to people based on their preferences and the amount they spend with this. We’d like to segment different users differently in order to better fulfill their expectations.”

“Additionally, how we present our product assortment on the website is critical. Should we display our merchandise across 5 categories? Or 25 categories? Or something in between? We have a young but extremely promising online business and these basic issues demonstrate how much low hanging fruit there is here.”

Areas of particular importance include:

Content management systems: The Ecommerce Manager will own the site, which means they will be responsible for all of its content. If the pricing, imagery, descriptions, or offers are wrong – that’s a major headache.

Ecommerce Platform: It’s essential that the new Ecommerce Manager have hands-on experience with a major system like Magento, Demandware, or ATG, given that the firm’s ecom platform will dictate workflows and allow the team to create complex offers with conditions like “If a client buys two of a particular item, they get free shipping …”. Any solid ecommerce platform will dictate certain workflows, and the new Ecommerce Manager needs to understand the benefit of that so that others in the department will model the Manager’s implementation of industry best practices.

Loyalty and Promotion Management: This is very critical aspect of the job. Best Bully has the blueprint for a loyalty program that’s ready to be added to the website, so the Ecommerce Manager will need to understand enough customer psychology to design effective loyalty and promotional programs. For example, with tiered promotions: What discounts are earned when a customer goes from one loyalty level to the next? In what form is that loyalty rewarded? Discounts? Rebates? Points? Recognition? According to Gus, the best loyalty programs should “game-ify” the customer experience so that customers enjoy an emotional payoff whenever they use the site.

Merchandising: This is perhaps the most important aspect of the job. According to Gus, many of Best Bully’s products differ in very subtle ways: “What categories will the Ecom Manager use to sell them? How will she differentiate them? Sometimes, our product differences are perceived: The difference between a bully stick for a small dog versus a large dog is extremely slight.”

Site Search: All of the products on the website should be segmented, sorted, and served up in a way that is accurate and intuitive for each individual searcher. Again, Best Bully’s products are fairly nuanced and it will be up to the new Ecommerce Manager to determine which products appear at the top of the site search function based on 1.) what the customer wants, 2.) what they bought and/or viewed before, and 3.) what Best Bully wants to feature.

Web Analytics: Naturally, it’s essential that the new Ecommerce Manager be extremely well versed in web analytics best practices. S/he should be prepared to design and produce custom reports to help management understand how the firm’s entire customer experience can be improved to sell more stuff, the more people, more often, for more money. Simple, but not easy.

Should you apply for the job?

This role is perfect for a rising star who has worked in a sophisticated direct to consumer ecommerce operation with thousands of SKUs. Candidates, be prepared to bring to this role your deep knowledge of user experience, customer segmentation, and online merchandising. You’ll have complete ownership of the client’s customer experience and merchandising pieces, and you’ll be expected to bring to the job an analytical bias to the way you make decisions.

When it comes to improving the site’s numbers, the buck will stop with you: Conversion rate; Margin rates; AOV’s and more. This will be your baby. This position is not accountable for marketing: It’s about converting visitors and minimizing the sites bounce rate, while increasing conversion rates and AOV’s at the lowest possible cost.

To do that, we would expect you to be able to …

  1. Understand your buyers and make sure they can find what they’re looking for.
  2. Increase margins with up-sells while keeping clean on inventory with shrewdly leveraged discounts.
  3. Use your knowledge of merchandising and usability to improve AOV’s with cross-sells.
  4. Promote free shipping, sales, and other special offers with strategically placed banners.
  5. Create a more targeted shopping experience in general.
  6. Promote specific products within search and browse results.
  7. Base your promotions on customer segmentation.

If you can do all of those things, would love to hear from you. Please apply below.

Online Commerce and User Experience Responsibilities:

  • Formulate an optimization strategy that maximizes the potential for merchandising, navigation, promotion and conversion on the site.
  • Responsible for understanding, anticipating and influencing visitor’s behavior in order to maximize profits.
  • Recommend and manage projects to improve site’s functionality and user experience.
  • Develop wireframes and use cases to describe new site features.
  • Responsible for developing seasonal financial plans at various levels of detail.
  • Manage online merchandising efforts, such as promotions, product categorization, cross sells, up sells, and featured products.
  • Develop, analyze and publish monthly/weekly business reports, metrics and recaps.
  • Implement A/B testing and multivariate analysis with the goal of increasing conversion rates.
  • Implement customer segmentation and personalization across the site.
  • Ensure the site’s design is up to date with the latest content relevant to the firm’s brand.
  • Ensure the inventory displayed on the site is up to date.
  • Measure the online demand for products/categories and communicate with the supply chain team to ensure alignment.
  • Work with web design and supply chain teams on creation of site promos and product descriptions.
  • Analyze site traffic and conversion metrics and make appropriate adjustments.
  • Overall ownership of site’s information architecture.
  • Develop and manage online loyalty program.
  • Entice, review, and approve customer reviews. Provide the supply chain team with insights from the user reviews.
  • Review orders on a daily basis to assess fraud risk for each order.
  • Review invoices form vendors to ensure accuracy on a recurrent basis and code to the right charge account.
  • Constantly monitor competitors pricing and maintain a competitive pricing position across all online categories by submitting price ‘change request’ to management for approval.


  • 3+ years experience in site merchandising for a multi-million online retailer, preferably with a pet-related background
  • Experience working with buying and planning organizations
  • Experience with web technology platforms/working with a content management system to update pages and product information.
  • Cross-functional project management skills, self-starter and accustomed to leading projects with little supervision
  • Ability to consolidate and analyze data from multiple sources.
  • Proficiency in Google Analytics, Omniture or similar web analytics tool, and MS Office
  • Strong understanding and passion for websites, UI and Visual Site Merchandising
  • Strong ability to work collaboratively with other cross-functional partners (up and down) in a fast paced, heavily-matrixed environment.
  • Proven leadership ability to inspire, supported by high integrity and organizational commitment.

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