FILLED: VP of Ecommerce (Metro Philadelphia, PA)

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HARRY’S COMMENTS: We are working with a confidential client in their search for a VP of Ecommerce located in the Philadelphia metro area.

Over the course of several conference calls, I spent more than 90 minutes with the search’s hiring committee teasing out their needs for this position. These are SUPER smart, business-oriented retail / wholesale operators who know their way around an omnichannel ecommerce business.

The committee has asked me to make this posting confidential. On a high level, here’s what I can share about this opportunity:

The client is an industry-leading private equity-backed provider of home environment products. The company is the industry leader in their primary product categories, with leading share in most major traditional and ecommerce retailers of these products.

Sales are primarily in North America, although targeted expansion outside this region is a focus. The company generates several hundred million dollars in gross sales, of which a significant and growing portion is conducted through ecommerce retailers and marketplaces.

You’ve seen their products in stores like Walmart, Home Depot, Target, Sam’s Club, and Bed Bath & Beyond — as well as online at Amazon, Wayfair and all major e-tailers.

The client’s products are designed, developed, and engineered in the United States where the firm operates three manufacturing and distribution facilities. Additionally, the client has long-standing sourcing relationships in Asia for certain components and finished products. Domestic operations ensure market-leading customer service in a difficult-to-serve seasonal business for retail customers.

This is a well-run company with real customers, real revenues, a real market, and real investors. Ecommerce sales are critical to the firm’s growth, and YOU will lead the company’s large, complex, and rapidly growing ecommerce business.

For a PROVEN ECOMMERCE LEADER — this is a great gig any way you slice it.

As the company’s VP of Ecommerce, you’ll be a pillar of leadership responsible for driving the firm’s vast ecom business (plus all related digital marketing). Everyone will look to YOU to provide the development / implementation of all online sales and marketing strategies in the firm’s global, multi-channel environment while working closely with internal and external partners.

If you want a seat at the table — here’s your chance.

This newly created position will lead ecom sales and related digital marketing with the goal of increase alignment, effectiveness and efficiency leading to sustained omnichannel growth. You’ll be guiding the team through the development of a digital ecosystem that heightens customer engagement across customers’ ecommerce platforms, digital and social media.

You’ll work with cross-functional partners in product management and development, engineering, sales and pricing, logistics / supply chain, customer service and finance to ensure alignment while enabling the right competencies to support the digital business from strategy to execution.

NOTE: You must be an expert at selling on Amazon.

Your team will have total responsibility for the Amazon channel — but AMS search campaigns will be particularly important since the company’s product is (usually) more need based than want based. Your job is to deeply understand how and why the firm’s customers engage with the firm on Amazon.

Here’s why: When people are searching for [my client’s type of product], they know what they need. Like when I’m searching for a tape measure or a space heater. The client is usually capturing demand more than creating it.

Meaning, the company needs to advertise more towards the bottom of the funnel. If their product isn’t on Page 1 (or they’re not Amazon’s preferred choice), then they might lose the business. Paid tactics will be huge, as will enhanced branding.

In addition marketplace listing creation and SEO optimization, Amazon-related things you’ll be expected to manage include …

  1. Inventory management and forecasting
  2. Catalog cleanup of existing listings
  3. Channel cleanup and brand protection
  4. Online advertising program management
  5. Customer service
  6. Product ratings and reviews (the good, the bad, and the ugly.)
  7. Multichannel account management on US and international Amazon channels

Among other things, during your interviews for this position, you can expect me to ask you …

  • Take me to your Amazon page. Did YOU do this? If not you, what was your involvement? What was your PROCESS for developing it and managing it?
  • Talk to us about your firm’s relationship with Amazon, the platform. What’s working? What’s not? What are your team’s sales goals for Amazon this year? (We use Jungle Scout — so be prepared to get nitty-gritty with us.)
  • What’s your process for identifying the most important tools for selling on Amazon?
  • What’s your process for determining the optimal amounts to fund Amazon’s marketing tools?
  • What are your primary challenges to improving marketing execution with your team’s current level of investment, organization, and application portfolio?
  • And more.

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Position Responsibilities

  • Maintain full P&L responsibility for all activities related to the client’s ecommerce business, including content, marketing, product selection, pricing, inventory management, fulfillment and customer service.
  • Understand and embrace the nuances of the client’s business, including seasonality, operations, logistics, and margin structures, while complementing and supporting the enhancement of the core business through the ecommerce and digital channels.
  • Collaborate with the CEO and SVP of Sales on overall ecommerce strategy and key account coverage.
  • Develop and manage a 3-5 year vision for ecommerce. Maintain constant knowledge of how the ecommerce landscape is changing and identify implications for retailers and consumers. Develop and implement a sustainable growth plan and strategy for the ecommerce business.
  • Build, develop and oversee a team focused on ecommerce sales, with an emphasis on Amazon (1P Direct and 3P Marketplace), in addition to other ecommerce retailers/marketplaces (e.g. Wayfair, itself a somewhat complicated business) and the ecommerce operations of traditional retailers (e.g. and Work closely with retail partners to ensure seamless, multi-channel integration to optimize customer experience across channels.
  • Effectively manage a variety of customer accounts: Provide category management for retail customers (e.g. product/ assortment, pricing, marketing, content, availability, fulfillment); Understand and adapt to customers’ goals (e.g. margin %, profit-$’s and/ or growth); Develop and manage relationships with customer contacts.
  • Partner and coordinate with other functional leaders: Supply Chain / Operations (e.g. inventory planning, pricing, fulfillment); Engineering / Product Development (e.g. new product introductions, value engineering); Sales and Marketing (e.g. pricing, channel management, branding, geographic expansion); Finance (e.g. financial metrics, operational KPIs, budgets, account P&Ls, and other resource/ cost-center planning)
  • Develop and execute all ecommerce marketing and merchandising initiatives to drive profitable online sales with our ecommerce customers and related analytics and reporting.
  • Develop a collaborative process across functional teams with the supporting tools to develop and integrate brand content into ecommerce sales efforts. This includes content – pictures and videos, online customer reviews, related digital consumer advertising and communications, and social media.
  • Collaborate with the Director of Marketing on brand consistency of digital presentations and communications.
  • Create consistent reporting methodology, setting standards for monitoring, tracking and sharing of relevant digital marketing KPIs.
  • Develop a longer-term (3-5 year) roadmap to support other Direct to Consumer (“DTC”) marketing initiatives including email, paid search, SEO, affiliate marketing and retargeting/re-contact strategies that lead to conversion, loyalty and revenue growth.

Experience and Qualifications:

Minimum of three to five years in each of the following areas:

  • Working in a leadership role, managing a team; experience working in a complex, fast-paced business that operates in a matrixed environment; proven leadership experience with the ability to identify, develop and retain top talent.
  • A successful record of progressive career trajectory with expanding roles and responsibilities.
  • Experience with a consumer products company in a management role overseeing ecommerce business, including: First-hand management experience (e.g. recruitment, performance management); P&L responsibilities (e.g. budgeting, pricing, allowances, etc.); Coverage of Amazon with a proven track record of accelerating profitable growth; Experience with omni-channel (Walmart, Home Depot, etc.) retailers.
  • Progressive experience in selling consumer products through online channels.
  • Well-versed in selling via 1P and 3P fulfillment models on Amazon.
  • Clear understanding of overall business drivers on major ecommerce marketplaces and retailers – product, content, marketing, pricing, and fulfillment.
  • Experience in leading digital marketing, with a particular focus on the strategies and tactics utilized to sell via Amazon and other third party ecommerce retailers; Strong brand and marketing capabilities – strategic and operational marketing experiences across multiple marketing functions.
  • Data-driven, algorithmically oriented skillset. History of using performance and market insights to inform strategic planning and improve account management and customers’ performance.
  • Demonstrated ability to recruit, lead, manage, and mentor a high-performing, data-driven team.
  • A college degree is required.

Key Personality and Leadership Characteristics:

  • Proactive, responsive and fully engaged. Driven and takes personal accountability. High energy and results driven.
  • Brings the energy and drive to win the organization’s respect and drive change. Strong team builder and people manager. A steward and cultivator of the best elements of the company’s existing culture.
  • Results oriented – drives and supports team and collaborative partners with clear priorities and stretch goals.
  • Entrepreneurial spirit and enjoys a fast-changing environment.
  • Data driven, analytical, and good at generating accurate and understandable data and reports.
  • Direct communication and working style. Advocates and selects the best idea, not necessarily their own idea. Low on ego and apolitical. Decisive and balanced in business approach/style.
  • Collaborative, flexible and open-minded. Able to thrive in a team-based environment. Exhibits a high degree of autonomy with a proven ability to pull disparate pieces together across the organization and ‘get things done’.
  • Passionate about managing, coaching, and developing people.


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