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One of the coolest Bay Area ecommerce jobs around.

We are working with Beren Shoes in their search for an Ecommerce Marketing Manager based in San Francisco, CA 94108.

HARRY’S COMMENTS: Last week I read one of the most impressive articles about winning against Amazon I’ve ever seen. Written by Andy Dunn, the Stanford MBA who founded Bonobos, the piece is called “Ecommerce is a Bear.” Honestly, very few people are this smart about digital commerce, although to his great credit, Kevin Hillstrom has been railing about similar stuff for a while.

You can read Dunn’s article later, but for now I’ll spoil at least part of the ending: According to Mr. Dunn, there are only four strategies in the marketplace to deal with Amazon’s incumbency: proprietary pricing, proprietary selection, proprietary experience, and proprietary merchandise.

Dunn continues …

“Proprietary selection is a strategy about being narrow and deep for a particular audience. It’s a cousin of proprietary merchandise because it is all about assortment, though the merchandise in this case is largely third-party brands. While the merchandise is not exclusive, it can feel exclusive for three reasons: the depth of the assortment, the difficulty in finding the products elsewhere either online or offline, and the power of their communities. Though the brands may be available elsewhere, they are not featured anywhere else in such a coherently beautiful and communally addictive way.”

Two of my favorite companies in this category are ModCloth and Nastygal. Susan Koger and Sophia Amoruso could not be more different, but they have one thing in common: they are both extraordinary merchant-founders who know their customers as well as anyone. While these proprietary selection communities are presently multi-brand with third-party brands, they feel so much like brands themselves that my bet is they evolve strong proprietary merchandise house labels over time such that the line blurs.”

Here’s what all of this has to do with today’s client, Beren Shoes:

Family-owned for 25 Years, Arthur Beren Shoes has made a name for itself by offering the best-known names in designer footwear in every possible size since 1988. The firm’s commitment to quality and customer service is backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee, and its fans are crazy about the Beren customer experience. In fact, it’s not unheard of for out-of-town fans to make Beren’s Union Square store in San Francisco their first stop on arrival, before they check-in to the hotel!

How would you like to be so deeply loved by your customers? It’s all about trust and credibility. No trust → no credibility. No credibility → no respect. No respect → no love. Period. Check out David Beren below. Like Mickey Drexler, David’s a guy who knows his product.

Fans of my job posts know that I’ve long celebrated merchant-founders like vintage drum historian, Steve Maxwell, whose Maxwell Drums has made an excellent name for itself despite competing against Sam Ash and Guitar Center.

If my son or daughter wanted to pursue a career in online retail, I would strongly encourage them to work for a merchant like Steve or David Beren. These entrepreneurs run some of the only businesses where you’ll learn to compete with Amazon. Though their merchandise can be seen elsewhere online, they are never offered in the same rich context. For example, I’d rather see David Beren explain what makes a particular shoe great than someone on Zappos whose demoing Keds one minute and Allen Edmonds the next.

As Ecommerce Marketing Manager, your job is to grow

This is not the first time I have written a job post about a client who sells luxury items to the high-end of a massive market. The US shoe store industry includes about 25,000 stores with combined annual revenue of about $30 billion. New styles and personal income drive demand, and small companies can compete effectively by stocking specialty products and providing superior customer service. The industry is concentrated, and the top 50 companies have about 75% of industry revenue.

One (very expensive) research database estimates online shoe sales in 2013 were $8.9 billion. I wasn’t aware that digital amounted to 30% of total sales, but I’m happy to share this research with qualified candidates. This report claims that from 2008-2013, the industry grew at 15.8% per year and should grow at nearly 9% per year through 2018. Additionally, it says that there are 1,166 shoe etailers — a number which seems plausible given that there are 34,864 websites with a shopping cart in Alexa’s top 1 million sites. If 10% of this $8.9 billion e market is affluent, then Beren has an $890 million sandbox in which to compete.

And NOBODY knows this audience like David Beren.

As stated above, the company has been in business for more than 25 years, and it has been mailing catalogs for 20. Last year, Beren mailed more than 1 million catalogs which help it compete against Bergdorf, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Saks. Predictably, the company is experiencing a gradual channel shift, as its customers embrace digital as a complement to the catalog.

According to Bain & Company research, affluent female buyers have a style conscious mindset which is not dependent on age. And here’s some good news: Some female luxury footwear customers have affluent spending habits, even though they are not affluent. Style and quality are key product attributes for the style conscious woman, who represents 40% of the population, yet accounts for 70% of the total apparel, accessories, and beauty spend.

More good news for Beren: The style conscious woman is more likely to splurge on accessories than she is on apparel. And get this: A small portion of style conscious women (15-20%) make up over 70% of total luxury spending. The obvious implication for Beren’s new Ecommerce Marketing Manager is that there are amazing opportunities to comb through the firm’s house file to look for customer biases that will inform Beren’s online customer acquisition activities.

As usual, I’ve gathered a ridiculous amount of information on this client (KPIs; strategy; etc), its market segments, and the industry. I’m happy to share that with qualified candidates, but I’m not at liberty to post those things here.

For now, what’s important to know is that this ecommerce job is every bit as much about cross-selling and up-selling existing customers as it is acquiring the right new customers. Beren Shoes employs only 20 people, so we are looking for a business-oriented self-starter who knows how to operate in a smart, lean, high-energy environment. All of these folks have great ideas about how to take Beren Shoes, one of the Bay Area’s most celebrated retail brands, to a wider audience. Your job is to listen, test small, and double down on the ones that work.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Manage and lead the 5 person team. You must have solid planning and management skills + a results driven focus.
  • Assume full P&L responsibility for the Marketing Department
  • Develop customer acquisition strategies by bringing creative ideas to revenue generation.
  • Elite level analytics capability, including total comprehension of traffic sources, unique visitors, user paths, funnels and conversions. This means being able to identify additional KPIs to improve business performance.
  • Develop and manage solid UX strategy to maximize onsite conversions.
  • Collaborate with Executives, Buyers, Merchandise Managers, Operations and IT to ensure the online marketing efforts are consistent with company-wide branding & promotional strategies.
  • Lead the development and discussions with external partners to provide insight into best practices for media planning and creative optimization for website and advertising banners, text links, landing pages, editorial content, and other Online Marketing strategies.
  • Identify and leverage current and new leading edge ecommerce trends and technologies (e.g. social networking, affiliate marketing, mobile applications, etc) to develop and execute an effective ecommerce strategy.
  • Develop and execute strategies for SEO, including technical onsite and content strategy
  • Oversee the Paid Search campaigns; some of which are executed by 3rd parties, but reviewed in-house. Maximize ROI on all ad spend.
  • Manage key partner relationships including SEO/SEM, email service provider, affiliate marketing, analytics, online advertising, and other site features & functionality partnerships
  • Partner with Product to maximize the product offerings and corresponding brand recognition and messaging.
  • Oversee UX strategy both desktop, mobile and tablet to maximize onsite conversions.

Required Skills and Experience

  • Minimum five years of ecommerce marketing management experience, preferably in a Marketing Manager, Assistant Marketing Manager or Analyst role. Experience managing a team and Developing Strategy required.
  • Strong people management skills to build a highly functioning marketing team
  • Solid organization skills including Marketing Plan Development, execution and review
  • P&L expertise with the ability to move dollars to more profitable areas.
  • Experience in online marketing and understanding of the value of analytics in driving online strategies.
  • Proficiency in Excel (including creating Pivot Tables/formulas), Word and PowerPoint.
  • Excellent time and project management with exceptional attention to detail.
  • Prior experience managing third party partnerships and vendors.
  • Demonstrated success in collaborating with a dynamic team of associates.
  • Knowledge of HTML and other languages a plus but not required.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills; especially important for communicating technical matters.


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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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