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One of the coolest CPG ecommerce jobs around!
HARRY COMMENTS: We are working with Hill’s Pet Nutrition in their search for a world-class Director of Ecommerce based in Topeka, Kansas. That’s right, Topeka baby!
Hill’s products actually DO something specific, such as help pets lose weight. Don’t laugh! It’s estimated that 52.7% of US dogs and 57.9% of US cats are overweight or obese. Based on the total number of dogs in America, that’s 44 million overweight dogs. Likewise, there are roughly 55 million fat cats.
And I don’t mean the Wall Street kind!
Overweight dogs and cats can struggle to do everyday things, like climb stairs, get into the car, and even fit through cat doors. Hence the need for a product like Hill’s Science Diet Perfect Weight pet food or Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic Weight Management pet food …
Whenever I write a job posting involving the pet industry, it’s almost hard to know where to start. So much opportunity. So much fun. So many ways to make a ton of money – both online and off.
Let’s start with the size of the market: According to the APPA, roughly 78 million dogs and 86 million cats are owned in the United States. Approximately 39% of all households in the United States have a dog while 34% have a cat. That’s a lot of hungry animals!
Naturally, feeding those critters is big business.
The US pet food manufacturing industry includes about 230 companies with combined annual revenue of about $21.4 billion. In general, the pet food production industry has fared well since 2008 due to the nondiscretionary nature of its products. Moreover, pets are living longer and healthier lives thanks to pet owners’ willingness to provide veterinary care, specialty foods, and alternative treatment options.
These trends have been a boon for pet food manufacturers, as has the fairly recent tendency for consumers to treat their pets is member of the family – encouraging owners not only to purchase more food, but also to consume higher quality products. Combined, these trends helped increase revenue at a rate of 1.2% over the five years to 2014, including a 4.9% rise in 2014 alone, to $13.4 billion.
Yessiree, it’s a great time to be Hill’s Pet Nutrition.
Hill’s Pet Nutrition makes makes and markets cat and dog food. Period. They don’t make toys. They don’t do leashes. They’re tightly focused on their core mission of helping to enrich and lengthen the special relationship between people and their pets. In fact, in the firm’s 107 year history they’ve reconsidered their mission a few times and NEVER changed it. Not once.
Hill’s history informs what the firm does today.
In 1939, Hill’s was founded by a New Jersey-based veterinarian, Dr. Mark Morris, one of whose patients was the seeing-eye dog of a blind man. The blind man toured all over the country doing speaking engagements, and when his beloved dog came down with kidney disease, Dr. Morris developed a special food for it that was packed in glass jars. When those jars later broke while the blind man was on the road with the dog, Dr. Morris found a canner in Topeka to pack the food in cans. (That’s why Hill’s is in Topeka.)
Today Hill’s makes foods for a variety of pet disease categories.
After Dr. Morris passed away, his son introduced a wellness diet, which is what is now sold in Hill’s retail channel. Hill’s selling strategy has served the firm well for decades: You won’t find its products in stores like Target or Walmart. The company only sells in outlets that have associates educated in pet nutrition — so Hill’s consumers fully understand what they are buying.
Hill’s has two channels through which it markets: Veterinary and Specialty Retail.
- The Veterinary channel consists of clinics and hospitals.
- The Specialty Retail channel consists of specialized pet retail chains such as Petco and PetSmart, small pet stores and feed stores.
Hill’s has EXTREMELY strong partnerships with the veterinarian profession. The US veterinary services industry includes about 30,000 establishments (single-location companies and units of multi-location companies) with combined annual revenue of about $30 billion. Within that space, Hill’s products are the Number 1 recommended foods.
Hill’s has more than 220 vets, PhDs, and food scientists on staff and its Topeka-based R&D facility is absolutely state-of-the-art. The firm spends a significant amount of resources on seminars and working with vets and universities because increased understanding of pet nutrition and strong / broad vet referrals drive sales into the retail channel.
It’s important to note that Hill’s isn’t necessarily interested in selling its products directly to consumers on its own website. Aside from dearly valuing its online retail partners like Amazon, Petco, PetSmart, and PetFoodDirect — at the center of its model is the relationship between the veterinarian and the pet parent.
Also important: Hill’s makes FOUR brands of dog and cat food:
- TWO of them are sold only in the Vet channel: Prescription Diet and Healthy Advantage.
- TWO of them are sold in the Vet Channel and Specialty Retail channel: Ideal Balance and Science Diet.
From a channel management standpoint …
Healthy Advantage is not sold online as it’s exclusive to the vet office channel. Through partners like Pet360, Prescription Diet is sold online with an authorized veterinarian recommendation. Science Diet and Ideal Balance are sold online.
Given that mix, YOUR job is to grow the business.
As Hill’s Ecommerce Director, North America you will be responsible for leading a team focused on the development and execution of the firm’s ecommerce strategy to grow its brands on key retailer sites.
For these folks you’ll encourage innovative thinking, drive change, and foster open and proactive communication. Responsibilities include providing direction to direct reports on strategies and initiatives, along with driving priorities within their customer accounts.
The role will advance Hill’s ecommerce presence in pure play and brick and mortar accounts while managing the online channel in all functional sales capabilities, including: Product availability in compliance with Hill’s Selective Distribution Policies, Pricing Strategy, Shopper activation, and Customer development.
You’ll provide an ongoing assessment of performance and initiatives, and secure alignment with the commercial team to ensure delivery against stated sales, margin and market share objectives.
Additionally, you’ll create and maintain key relationships with ecommerce executives and managers at major retail accounts (Pure Play and Brick + Mortar) and identify strategic and operational next steps while regularly communicating ecommerce developments to internal stakeholders.
Is this the job for you?
It might be if you have excellent people skills and know how to influence others in a way that’s hard on the issues and soft on the people. You won’t be able to build Hill’s ecommerce business in isolation. That’s not how Hill’s works. You have to influence marketing, retail marketing, and general management — making clear what is required to win in ecommerce. Then you’ll need to pool the resources to make it happen.
As you can imagine, I’ve got TONS of information about this role, this company, this industry, and this locale (Topeka) that I could spill out onto the internet. Yet for competitive reasons, I’m not going to do that here.
I’m happy to discuss everything I’ve heard, seen, and researched about those things with qualified candidates. You definitely don’t want to apply without this intel, so let me hook you up.
Simply TEXT [your name + “Hill’s Director Ecommerce”] to me at (404) 281-2025. Or simply apply online below. Either way, I look forward to chatting with you!
- Manage the eCommerce P&L/ agreed KPIs for the ecommerce channel across North America. KPIs must include and are not limited to Net Sales, Margin, Market Share, Consumption, ROI, executional excellence.
- Engages and influences Hill’s leadership to evolve and drive NA eCommerce vision and strategy. Identifies and prioritizes customers to engage with and builds strong relationships, through cross functional networks and top to top engagement.
- Acquire, retain and utilize knowledge of retailers’ website technical capabilities, business process. Understand retailers’ strategies and priorities.
- By leveraging data, insights, analytics and other market and customer information, translates our brand strategies into customer program initiatives that stimulate engagement with eCommerce shoppers, drive awareness and purchase.
- Leveraging knowledge of customers strategies, goals and capabilities, lead Joint Business Planning with top e-retailers, maximizing presence of Hill’s products and content in eComm sites.
- Support the eCommerce CD Managers to execute the JBP and brand plans with our customers including product distribution, set-up, new item planning, promotion planning and marketing activities leveraging the retailer assets. Facilitates on-going business review to monitor progress versus JBP and take corrective actions as needed.
- Lead the development and implementation of the Vet eCommerce solution
- Provides guidance on the investment framework to be used with eCommerce retailers to maximize ROI and SOM growth. Conducts effective negotiations with e-retailers.
- Shares best practices and educates Commercial teams in NA and eCommerce leaders across Hill’s regions.
- Bachelors Degree, MBA a plus, high interest in eCommerce within the CPG industry
- 7-9 Years’ relevant experience
- Functional Experience and Technical Skills: Must be both strategic and analytical.
- Experience in building brand and revenues in eCommerce (preferred Specialty brand), and partnering with eCommerce retailers (Amazon preferred).
- Ability to work effectively and collaboratively across all business functions.
Required Functional Competencies
- Strategy / Vision: Developing and communicating a long term vision for the team and linking the teams goals with overall business goals.
- Business & Global Perspective: Incorporating current external practices and trends, using cross-functional knowledge, understanding the issues and perspectives of various cultures and countries.
- Driving Innovation: Encouraging creative thinking, pushing for continuous improvement, balancing innovation with adopting standard Colgate processes and practices.
- Customer Engagement: Building engagement with customers and service providers to gain commitment to a joint plan that delivers mutual superior business results.
- Understanding Hill’s Environment: Developing a deep understanding of shoppers, retail environments, customers and service providers and integrating into strategies and action plans
- Integrated commercial planning: Developing and implementing an aligned shopper-driven customer/retail environment plan to deliver the commercial goals.
Applications for this position are being coordinated by Harry Joiner. You can now TEXT Harry for more info at (404) 281-2025. Or to apply on your desktop, CLICK HERE. Candidates, please be sure to email Harry 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.