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One of the coolest Boston ecommerce jobs around!

We are working with Wolverine Worldwide in their search for a Director of Ecommerce for its Sperry / Topsider brand based in scenic Lexington, MA. This is a terrifically cool ecommerce job.

The director will be responsible for driving aggressive top and bottom line growth by developing the overarching eCommerce strategy and leading a cross-functional team to deliver results.

HARRY’S COMMENTS: We don’t get too many searches in Boston, but when we do they tend to close fairly quickly. Great town. Great quality of life. Lots to do. Tremendous cultural and sports scenes. Plus, I’m sure you’re well acquainted with Sperry.

Sperry Top-Sider is an iconic American brand that was founded 80 years ago by Paul Sperry – the inventor of the world’s first boat shoe for sailors. The brand is well known by consumers who have a passion for sea life and coastal areas.

The firm is known for designing quality footwear – including Sperry Top-Sider Authentic Original, the best-selling men’s shoe in U.S. department stores, and sandals, dress shoes, and performance boat shoes. You may recall that The Official Preppy Handbook endorses the Sperry Top-Sider Authentic Original as the footwear symbol of classic prep style.

In 2012, Sperry Top-Sider, along with Keds, Stride Rite and Saucony, became part of Wolverine World Wide – a conglomerate of 16 diverse, global lifestyle brands. Wolverine World Wide is focused on extending their brands’ offerings in accessories and apparel. They’re also on a mission to expand consumer-direct initiatives – both in their brands’ brick-and-mortar stores and across the web.

About Sperry Top-Sider’s market.

Sperry Top-Sider’s target demographic straddles it between Gen X (b. 1965-1980) and Millennials (b. 1980-2000), which challenges the company to hit on all cylinders with its digital marketing. Millennials in particular can be somewhat fickle, which places pressure on Sperry’s digital team to market in a way that doesn’t seem to salesy.

Earlier this month, there was an interesting article in Internet Retailer magazine about millennial consumers and how they buy. According to the article, the millennial generation is now the largest age demographic in the United States.

Entering their peak spending years, their median income last year was $35,300. Millennials’ shopping preferences change often, making it much harder for retailers to turn a one-time customer into a repeat buyer. In addition to their reliance on social media, millennials tend to be picky about how they spend their money and are loyal to brands that speak their language and appeal to its values.

Millennials’ reliance on mobile devices is well-documented.

What that means for Sperry Top-Sider is that growing its online business will involve bringing to life the brand’s affluent, preppy, East Coast chic personality across multiple devices (smartphones, tablets, desktop), through multiple channels (SEO, SEM, mobile, PLAs, etc) in ways that resonate with its youthful clientele.

Without getting into specifics, a significant amount of Sperry’s traffic comes from mobile. Naturally, that places pressure squarely on the shoulders of Sperry’s new Director of Ecommerce to understand the importance of integrated customer acquisition and its impact on getting the brand’s fans through a conversion funnel that often starts with a mobile touchpoint.

That’s why a solid understanding of mobile is so important here.

Consider this: When I test-drove Sperry’s mobile purchase path, I first Googled sperry and selected the suggested SERP “sperrys for men.” When I selected the proper Sperry result, I was directed to this landing page.

In contrast, when I executed the same search and selected the Zappos result, I encountered an invitation to download the Zappos mobile app, after which I was directed to the Sperry landing page at Zappos.com, at the bottom of which was an invitation for me to click to call with any questions I may have.

Candidates, ask yourselves: What three things would you do differently if you were Sperry? Be prepared to discuss your thoughts with us.

The good news is that the brand has more than 1 million Facebook fans, 9.8K Pinterest followers, 36.6 Twitter followers, and 87.5K Instagram followers. The Instagram number is encouraging given teens’ fickleness towards the established social platforms.

Content marketing: A must for Sperry Top-Sider.

Given the high percentage of Sperry.com’s traffic that originates from search, content marketing will be critical to your success in the role. Meaning, your team will need to tie its promotional calendars to Sperry’s editorial calendar and adjust its organic and paid search strategies accordingly. Planning skills are critical here, as will be your ability to see the brand through your customers’ eyes.

Also critical: The ability to work with others.

Sperry’s organization is one of the most matrixed I’ve ever worked with. There are a good many internal and external stakeholders who play important roles in Sperry’s digital success, and it’s important for candidates to understand that this is a very crowded kitchen. True, you’ll be the head chef, but there are many talented executives whose opinions you must carefully weigh regarding how digital can support the overall business. Therefore, you’ll need a rich understanding of the agency business, logistics, supply chain, brand marketing, retail marketing, inventory management and more as each pertains to multichannel ecommerce.

You’ll constantly be weighing the “80/20 Rule” against the “Law of Unintended Consequences.”

For example, a strategy to keep inventory levels down might have unsavory consequences for customer satisfaction due to stock outs. Or, the need to aggressively price last quarter’s overruns to get them out of inventory could have negative consequences for the brand. Business is always about reconciling the dynamics of supply and demand, and you’ll have to understand how to manage these trade-offs in ways that maximize the upside and minimize the downside to others’ areas of responsibility.

Amazingly, my kickoff call notes for this search are nearly 4000 words in length. On top of that, we have a number of relevant research reports that will help candidates understand how they can drive value for Sperry in this role. Candidates, you don’t want to apply without this information.

Success in this role will require deep technical skills in mobile commerce, mobile marketing, organic search, paid search, web analytics, and ecommerce platform management. However, as important as ecommerce “hard skills” are in this position, the “soft skills” are what will truly differentiate candidates in this search. There’s an old saying in the recruiting business that “People get hired for what they’ve done and fired for who they are.”

That has never been more true than it is here.

Clearly, you will need to be highly intelligent in order to deal with concepts and complexity very comfortably. Additionally, you’ll need to be very adept at managing and measuring the people and processes in your area and beyond. A deep knowledge of macro and micro cost and revenue drivers will be useful, and you’ll be expected to know how to MAKE MONEY in reality-based, resource-friendly, brand accretive ways.

Moreover, you’ll need to understand how Sperry’s various departments function within the overall organization and understand how to get things done through formal channels and your own informal network. This will take drive and interpersonal savvy. You’ll be expected to relate well to all kinds of people and build constructive and effective relationships. Diplomacy and tact are essential ingredients to success at Sperry.

View Harry Joiner's LinkedIn profileView Harry Joiner’s profile


  • Topline P&L responsibility for Sperry Top-Sider’s US online presence to include sales, margin, marketing expense with a passion for driving profitable growth
  • Lead a growing team of marketing & site merchandising specialists for WWW’s largest online brand
  • For site merchandising, oversees team that deploys and maintains all onsite product page content, utilizes site analytics data drive product and merchandising decisions, collaborates with brand on GTM strategy, product & brand content stories for development across the site, email and other marketing placements
  • Participates in LRP and budgeting, signs off on plan & budget in partnership with brand & retail finance
  • Key interface between brands and other consumer direct roles
  • Although dedicates to the brand, keeps the best interests of the WWW portfolio in mind for key decisions
  • Defining a long-term roadmap, including marketing, competitive positioning, business development, merchandising and content initiatives designed to grow the overall business.
  • Defining, in conjunction with internal partners, the overarching digital merchandising strategy and managing the execution.
  • Manage the day-to-day operations of eCommerce team including catalog set-up, promotion planning and execution as well as liaison with internal customer support and fulfillment teams
  • Provide leadership and collaborate with eCommerce shared service functions including, but not limited to: some areas of marketing, web development, web production, online creative for eCommerce
  • Work closely with brand marketing, social and PR teams
  • Manage the digital marketing budget forecast quarterly and annual goals for distribution, campaign response rates and ROI; meet all goals, taking corrective actions as necessary
  • Manage digital agencies, establishing objectives, developing statements of work, reviewing creative briefs, leading cross-functional teams and holding partners accountable for achieving agreed-upon deliverables
  • Lead marketing strategy online and direct execution. This includes managing, tracking, analyzing online marketing efforts such as SEM, SEO, affiliate, CSEs, remarketing, mobile and emerging media
  • Provide escalation management, anticipate and make trade-offs, balance the business needs versus technical constraints, and maximize business benefit while providing a great customer experience
  • Cross-functional partnership in conducting competitor, customer, business & financial analysis, including monitoring, forecasting & reporting, acts as communication liaison between brand & eCommerce
  • Provide strong leadership, oversight and executional support for systems integration projects including but not limited to: web replatforming, email system upgrade, customer database


  • 7+ years related work experience, 5+ years of eCommerce with merchandising experience a plus
  • Experience in DTC environment preferred, with multiple channels (e.g. stores, online, catalog)
  • Global experience a plus: ability to effectively work/communicate with multiple regions across time zones
  • Strong leader: capable of managing and motivating a team in a fast-paced, dynamic environment. Strong strategic focus with ability to identify opportunities, develop relevant business cases and sell in to leadership. Ability to lead teams through organizational changes with grace and professionalism.
  • Digital Marketing: Strong working knowledge of and experience with various digital marketing technologies, platforms and practices to deliver an exceptional online consumer experience desired. SEO and SEM experience required.
  • Drives for results: Ability and desire to work at both the strategic and tactical levels with proven success at developing integrated digital campaigns from strategy through execution with a passion for driving profitable growth.
  • Project Management: Proven ability to work under pressure, prioritize work and meet multiple deadlines.
  • Strong Communicator: Excellent interpersonal and relationship building skills – a proven record of leadership across functional lines that delivers business results.
  • Customer Focus: ability to translate customer insights into successful marketing programs and a high degree of creativity to find new, compelling ways to reach and communicate to consumers.
  • BA/BS required. MBA preferred.


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