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One of the coolest NY ecommerce jobs around …
We are working with The Natori Company in its search for a worldclass Director of Ecommerce based in New York City.
HARRY’S COMMENTS: There’s an old expression that goes “Company politics happen when people feel insecure about their work.” If that’s true, then I can understand why the work environment at The Natori Company is phenomenal.
A designer, manufacturer, and licensor of high-end women’s fashion with nine figures in revenue across all categories, Natori’s product line includes intimates, sleepwear, lingerie, ready-to-wear, home, perfume, towels, and more – all sold in department stores like Saks, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, and hundreds of boutiques and specialty stores as well.
Clearly, these are massive, well established categories, so I won’t get into the size of the market opportunity. (Hint: Victoria’s Secret mails 375 million catalogs per year.) But just because the market is huge doesn’t mean the client has a mainstream approach to the business.
Natori is a fashion house, and its mission is to “Bring art into life with an East / West sensibility.” According to Natori’s VP of Ecommerce, Finance, Licensing, and PR/Marketing Ken Natori, “The Natori Life is glamorous style that reflects how a woman sees herself: feminine, strong, independent, and creative.”
Speaking of Ken …
We all want to work for amazing people who don’t take themselves too seriously – which is why you should check out this video of Ken playing the guitar at his birthday party. Bear in mind that Ken is a Stanford MBA, an ex-Radio and TV Reporter for Bloomberg, and who until 2007 was a VP of Japanese Equities with Lehman Brothers. Plus he’s the son of Natori’s founder. If ever there were someone with a license to be snooty, it would be Ken. But in fact, he’s a prince.
How much could you learn from someone like this??
Ken’s mother was the first female VP of Investment Banking in the history of Merrill Lynch. (Think about that.) After giving birth to Ken, she returned to Merrill but her heart just wasn’t in it, so she started Natori. Click here to see Ken tell the story on Business Insider. The rest is history.
What’s cool about Natori is that its culture very different from those of “normal” fashion houses. According to Ken, “Anyone can have an idea and run with it. Everyone has a voice. Everyone has the ability to contribute something lasting and meaningful to the company. Our culture, combined with the degree to which ecommerce is growing and changing rapidly, is what makes this a unique opportunity.”
So, let’s talk about ecommerce.
As a percent of the firm’s total sales, Natori.com’s revenues are modest. But there’s tons of room for growth, as evidenced by the site’s AOV, conversion rate, and low customer return rate – none of which I can disclose here. Candidates, I have several pages of notes from my kickoff call with Ken, and I’d be happy to discuss the client’s business with qualified candidates.
Confidentially, of course.
For now, it’s important to understand that this is not your typical gunslinging online retail job. Mostly, this role is about giving Natori’s loyal fans a way to support the brand when they are unable to buy from Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, and the like. Truly, this is a brand with a rich history – and it actually has fans. Not too many companies can say that. Yet since Natori has built its brand through high-end retailers, this role is more about maintaining Natori.com’s growth while supporting its valued retail partners. Meaning, your goal is not to poach sales from their sites.
Having said that …
There’s plenty of nitty-gritty work to be done on Natori’s own site. For example, first and foremost we need someone who is an expert in Excel. And when I say “expert,” I don’t mean an expert by my standards. I mean an expert by Ken’s standards.
Because Natori.com supports Natori and its licensed partners who are all on different systems, Natori’s ecommerce channel is not plugged into its ERP. So currently, Ken must use use complex Excel logic and formulas to convert at least 7 sets of different ERP data into a spreadsheet and upload it into the ecommerce backend. It’s more common than it sounds. In fact, it’s not uncommon for my team to hear similar stories from companies in the Internet Retailer Top 100.
In fact, more than someone who has experience in strategy or can think in terms of bigger pictures, what Natori needs is a process-driven ecommerce executive who can take such activities off Ken’s hands. The ideal candidate will be an EXPERT in Excel and understand how to work with developers to explain what needs to be done to improve the site. To be clear …
A lack of DEEP experience in Excel is a deal killer.
Yes, it would be nice if you have customer acquisition experience – but that’s not the main thing. The main thing is to be a fantastic operations person who can make the trains run on time. Initially, that means working with data and making it so that it’s processed easily on the back of the business.
At the end of the day, this role is perfect for someone who loves ecommerce and is an expert in Excel — I’m talking SUPERFREAK. You should understand how to run projects and have a process for getting the most out of the company’s creatives, web designers and developers (some of whom are based in Minneapolis).
The creatives, in particular, might say “Why can’t the website do such and such? Is it possible to bring our merchandise to life in such and such a way?” Your job will be to manage the gap between what Natori’s creative and marketing teams want, and what’s realistically possible. Naturally, superior documentation skills would be required in this role, given that Natori has products coming in from seven different licensees – all with different treatments and attributes.
Frankly, there is a massive amount of divergent data that needs to be converted in a way that take friction out of Natori’s sytem. Initially, the work may not be sexy, but it sure as heck will be rewarding. These are phenomenally smart people, a world-class company, and an opportunity to learn about international business from people who have it in their blood.
- Completely own and manage through Excel, the migration of data from various ERP systems into the current Natori backend.
- Project manage site improvements with the company’s third party developers.
- Lead the creation and execution of consumer sales programs and strategies to generate online sell-through of products.
- Provide leadership in the identification of specific and appropriate opportunities to grow the eCommerce business through the targeted use of web analytics.
- Lead a cross-functional team to develop and execute a comprehensive web strategy; define the scope, business requirements, budget, benefit analysis and cost justification for strategic projects to support business needs.
- Work with Interactive Creative Director to create and develop content and web tools that will inspire web visitors, driving an increasing rate of return visitors, inquiries, qualified leads and conversion.
- Evaluate website performance, assess results, and make continuous improvements by examining data and making recommendations to internal clients to evolve site content and web tools to maximize effectiveness.
- Identify needs for new technologies and work with Director of Web Technology to develop requirements through implementation.
- Oversee the eCommerce production team to ensure profitable operation of all Natori websites.
- Direct and hold a team of project managers accountable for on-time, on-budget deliverables that meet quality standards and business strategies.
- Determine key performance indicators, track and analyse performance and distribute appropriate reporting weekly/monthly/quarterly.
- Review available web analytic metrics to ensure site content, user experience and product performance are optimized to drive sales and make appropriate adjustments as needed.
- Collaborate with Divisional Merchandise Director to ensure all products are merchandised effectively for maximum sale potential though web analytic analysis.
- Collaborate with internal teams to ensure optimal digital placement of products across all marketing channels.
Specific Job Skills:
- 4+ years’ experience of leading a large team of people and operating a successful fashion eCommerce site
- Demonstrated ability to operate independently and drive company initiatives at senior management levels. This includes the distribution of reports on site performance, program and project management, and strategy summaries.
- Understanding of web trends and technologies and SEO practices and strategies
- Strong organizational and project management skills, and impeccable attention to detail
- Demonstrated strategic vision and creativity in web management in support of business objectives
- Proven ability to drive and communicate strategy and tactical details
- Ability to manage multiple projects and competing priorities concurrently
- Strong acumen in understanding all issues of a business: sales, marketing, operations, product development
- Ability to build strong business relationships and work cross-functionally
- Comfortable in executive level presentations and business discussions
- Entrepreneurial outlook
- Self-starter and team player, with great social and interpersonal skills
- Strong web foundation including understanding of possibilities, UI and web content best practices
- Exceptional knowledge of Microsoft PowerPoint, Word, and Excel
- Project Management certifications a strong plus
UPDATE: THIS SEARCH IS CLOSED.
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