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One of the coolest Chicago ecommerce jobs around …

We are working with Taylor USA in their search for a Director of Ecommerce based in Oak Brook, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago that is headquarters location of McDonald’s, Ace Hardware, Blistex, CenterPoint Properties, Lions Clubs International.

When Taylor was founded in 1851, by George Taylor, he had a motto: accuracy first. Since then, Taylor’s legacy has grown to include a wide range of measurement products for home and industry. From thermometers to altimeters used in fighter planes, Taylor USA develops the most accurate measurement products. The company has been in the measurement business for almost 150 years, which is why it’s the most trusted measurement brand in America.

HARRY’S COMMENTS: There’s a shifting tide in the Internet Retailer Top 500, where candidates who are specialists seem to be losing ground to business-oriented, academically rigorous generalists who can research a problem and “find a way to win” in the marketplace. Yes, there’s still a place for highly skilled database analysts, online merchants, conversion rate optimization specialists, and customer acquisition ninjas who are an inch wide and a mile deep in their specialties. But that’s not where the big money is going.

The long-term viability of ecom candidates seems to be tied to their ability to carefully examine a business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and execute around reality-based strategies to grow the business in resource friendly and brand accretive ways.

Re-read that.

It’s true: If you want to make +$200,000 a year as an ecommerce general manager, then you’ll need to get up to speed with every digital business model, including digital advertising; digital commerce (in ALL of its forms … and there are 20); subscription-based models; peer-to-peer models; transaction processing models; licensing models; database models; mobile; gaming; online education, and more.

When I say “academically rigorous,” I don’t mean you need an MBA to get ahead.

Sure an MBA helps, but there’s nothing I learned in B-school in the 1990s that would have prepared me for business today. Being academically rigorous simply means reading blogs, books, magazine articles, books, high-quality research (like Forrester), books, and more books. Jim Rohn was right …

“Poor people have big TV’s. Rich people have big libraries.”

If you want to get rich (hey, somebody’s gotta do it) –- or even if you just want to be nearly impossible to replace — then you’ll need to self-educate. And that’s exactly what you’ll need to do as Taylor USA’s Director of Ecommerce.

What is Taylor USA?

Taylor USA is the largest manufacturer of kitchen and bathroom measurement products in America. The firm sells scales, thermometers, timers, and wine products (cork screws, etc) to big-box and small retailers throughout the United States. The firm is private equity backed and intends to expand into the housewares space in the future. Based on my two-hour project kickoff call, the client is very good at trade marketing, and its wholesale customers like love working with Taylor USA because, in addition to having the ability to customize its products and packaging for them, its brands like Metrokane are constantly developing remarkable new products that sell like hot cakes …

In addition to its financial strength, the company is vertically integrated, which gives it a significant margin advantage against its competitors. Other strengths include research and development, as well as the culture of the company: Taylor USA employs many of the bright, forward thinking, business-oriented people whom I described above.

Here’s where things get interesting:

The firm operates three websites:;; and Competitive considerations prevent me from recapping the strategic and operating issues facing these sites (and yes, I do have copious notes on these issues). For now, what I can tell you is that Taylor USA is no small business (north of $100 million in sales), and there are a host of interesting channel management issues to tease out as the company grows its online business. Some channels require less investment. Some channels offer higher margin opportunities. Some channels offer higher volume. Some channels confer a more upscale brand image to the company. It will be your job to work with a very sophisticated management team to way all of those issues in optimizing the marketing mix.

Across all three sites, you might hit pay dirt with any combination of:

  • Selling direct online, via the desktop, mobile, and tablet devices.
  • Embracing Google shopping
  • Optimizing all CSEs
  • Expanding to more marketplaces
  • Growing the firm’s Amazon marketplace business
  • Perfecting paid search
  • Getting strategic with social, possibly with daily deals, special promotions, etc.
  • Expanding your feeds
  • … and more

Of course, you’ll need to be organized, which means promotional calendaring should be second nature to you. Not only should you understand how to take advantage of various holiday seasons to grow the business, you should understand how to manage your team’s activities so that every holiday “cutoff” (for paid search ads; shipping; etc) is made.

But that’s what was so much fun about my kickoff call with this client.

Our discussion involved a highly intelligent “back of the envelope” analysis of each site’s target market, traffic, average order value, conversion rates, current sales, future sales over a five-year period, and so forth to determine a directionally correct plan for improving the company’s sales by X% over a five-year period. And you know what? There was a lot to like about the company’s underlying economics and the growth of its markets.

If those kinds of intellectual challenges are stimulating to you, then you will love this opportunity. Indeed, this role is perfect for anyone who has worked at a fairly large, sophisticated company where they either ran a business or a product line. With Taylor USA, there’s a ton of upside potential in building an ecommerce business that’s “yours.” The company is not a startup, but you’ll feel like you are running a startup within a large, established organization.

If your team succeeds, your fingerprints will be all over it.

Essential Function and Responsibilities:

  • Develop ecommerce channels to profitable grow sales online
  • Improve the firm’s internet retail site, including feature-functionality, user interface, SEO, landing page optimization, effective online merchandising of products and promotions, and overall user experience
  • Partner with third parties (including current brick and mortar retailers) to drive increased sales through their sites
  • Manage the overall company marketplace strategy including succession planning for ES employees
  • Assume full P/L responsibility and an ability to plan revenue, marketing and sales promotion consistent with overall company strategy
  • Oversee online marketing – budget, ROI justification and team management – search, SEO, Affiliate and Email
  • Working closely with internal and external resources in the development and execution of marketing strategies
  • Work with the Marketing and external resources to create engaging online content
  • Contribute and form overarching strategy for social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Blog) and provide basic customer service when necessary
  • Grow and manage the firm’s presence on non-affiliate comparison shopping engines such as Pricegrabber and Google Product Search
  • Define marketing metrics and establish reports to measure successes, opportunities and appropriate action plans based on conclusions
  • Oversees copywriting, photography, site design, marketing programs and calendar and merchandise content to ensure brand integrity throughout planning and implementation of Ecommerce initiatives
  • Keep up to date on new online marketing trends/practices and continually analyze and leverage the opportunities for growing organic traffic
  • Identify and gaps in the online product assortment and recommend changes that could be complimentary and incremental to the business

Job Requirements:

  • College degree
  • 3+ years experience in web environment; 3-5 years experience in retail or consumer products operations capacity, preferably with a multi-channel retailer (with management experience)
  • Deep knowledge of Ecommerce operations and thorough familiarity with the online space
  • Experience designing online customer experiences through transactional websites, third party websites, marketplaces, and social media
  • Expert knowledge of performance marketing, conversion, and online customer acquisition strategies
  • Expert with web analytics tools such as Google Analytics, Coremetrics, etc.
  • Proven experience in creating effective teamwork and an environment conducive to developing cross-functional collaboration


PS – If you’re thinking about changing jobs this year (though us or anyone else), you might want to check out this post on why even TOP candidates get rejected.

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