26 April 2022
On the Move: Meet The Home Depot's new CX lead
Here's a look at this week's hiring news in ecommerce and consumer goods.
Here's a look at this week's hiring news in ecommerce and consumer goods.
Welcome to On the Move. In this hiring-focused weekly feature, The Current is rounding up recent arrivals and departures at brands and retailers across the ecommerce landscape.
This week, Zappos gains a CMO, while an ecommerce platform hires a Zappos exec. Plus, The Home Depot creates a customer experience lead, and BBQGuys picks up a merchandising expert from Wayfair.
Ginny McCormick is the first chief marketing officer at Zappos. After 23 years, the clothing and footwear-focused ecommerce retailer created the role as part of a move to centralize marketing functions, the Wall Street Journal reported.
McCormick previously served as global marketing director at Amazon Hub, which runs package pickup lockers. (Amazon is the parent company of Zappos). Previously, she served as CMO at figurine and toy maker Funko, and head of global media for toy company Hasbro.
This appointment comes in the same month that Las Vegas-based Zappos named longtime leader Scott Schaefer as CEO, transitioning from an acting role.
Amazon-focused 3P retailer Orva appointed Jeff Espresen to the newly created role of EVP and chief merchandising officer.
Espresen is joining Orva from Zappos, where he served as general manager and chief merchant for 12 years, leading brand acquisition, supplier relationships, inventory management and overall merchandising profitability at Zappos.com and 6pm.com. He previously served in VP and leadership roles at DSW and Nordstrom.
At Orva, which specializes in footwear, apparel, accessories and home products, he will lead merchandising strategy with a primary focus on softlines.
Footwear and apparel brand Brunt Workwear appointed former Under Armour chief product officer Kevin Eskridge as company president, bringing on a leader with more than 20 years experience in the clothing industry.
Over a decade, Eskridge served in a variety of roles at Under Armour across product innovation, channel strategy and international growth. He previously worked at Gap and Armani Exchange.
Eskridge joins Boston-based Brunt as the brand plans to triple the size of its team after recently expanding into apparel and raising a $20 million Series B.
The Home Depot announced a pair of appointments on April 19:
Matt Carey will be the EVP of customer experience, serving in a new role that leads design and development of seamless experiences across stores and digital devices. The 14-year veteran of the Atlanta-based home improvement chain previously served in SVP and CTO roles at eBay and Walmart.
Fahim Siddiqui is the new EVP and chief information officer, overseeing tech, software and supply chain across the company. Prior to joining Home Depot as an SVP in 2018, he held key software development roles at Staples, MCI, Time Warner Telecom and Sprint.
Grilling and outdoor living retailer BBQGuys appointed Justin Petersen as chief merchandising officer.
Petersen joined the Baton Rogue, Louisiana-based company from Wayfair, where he served as general manager of the accent, entertainment, and office furniture categories. He also has experience as a brand manager at Procter & Gamble, and previously worked with Tide, Vicks and Gillette.
With BBQGuys, Petersen will lead the rollout of a category management structure. The 20-year-old company was acquired in 2020 by Brand Velocity Group.
In departure news, Gap Inc. announced on April 21 that Nancy Green is out as CEO of apparel retailer Old Navy.
“As we look to seize Old Navy’s potential, particularly amidst the macro-economic dynamics facing our industry, we believe now is the right time to bring in a new leader with the operational rigor and creative vision to execute on the brand’s unique value proposition,” said Gap Inc. CEO Sonia Syngal, in a statement. “I want to thank Nancy Green for her decades of leadership and passion for our brands and customers, as well as the communities we serve.”
Citing “execution challenges” at Old Navy, Gap Inc. updated its first quarter fiscal 2022 net sales growth guidance to approximately low to mid-teens year-over-year declines from its prior guidance of mid to high single digit year-over-year declines.
The retailer's marketplace is expanding quickly.
When it comes to ecommerce growth, was the pandemic a blip or a new trendsetter?
As we move further from the height of COVID-related closures, it’s a question that will start to be answered through the lens of history.
So far, the narrative of ecommerce growth in the U.S. from 2019-2022 has gone like this: Ecommerce’s share of overall retail saw a huge spike at the height of the pandemic in 2020-21, when goods in general were in demand and online shopping was necessary to preserve health and safety. Experts looked out and saw a permanent exponential change in the penetration of ecommerce as a share of retail that would last beyond the pandemic. Then, in 2022, everyone went back to stores and the trendline came back to 2019 levels. Growth was no longer exponential. There was still growth, but it was not happening as fast as during the pandemic period.
With this in mind, it’s worth pointing out that 2023 is the first year that there likely won’t be a pandemic-influenced swing to influence ecommerce growth. It is also a year where demand has suffered challenges amid inflation and interest rate hikes.
So as we seek to determine the importance of ecommerce to overall retail, it’s worth it to continue taking a close look at what growth trends retailers are seeing now, whether ecommerce is remaining resilient amid consumer pullback and how retailers are preparing for the future.
The latest example arrived this week from Macy’s. It’s a fitting one for the times. Overall, Macy’s is seeing a slowdown as consumers pull back on discretionary purchases, with sales declining 7% in the first quarter versus the same quarter of 2022. Digital sales were down 8%.
Macy’s is particularly susceptible to the macroeconomic headwinds that many brands and retailers are facing, as spending among the middle-income consumers it counts as a primary customer base is particularly softening, said GlobalData Managing Director Neil Saunders.
But while ecommerce is slowing overall, the importance it gained to Macy’s business during the pandemic is remaining in place.
In 2019, ecommerce made up 25% of Macy’s revenue, CEO Jeff Gennette told analysts on the company’s earnings call. That jumped to a high of 44% in 2020. By 2022, digital reached 33% of sales after the pandemic boom. In the first quarter of 2023, it remained at 33%. So, while the trend line dipped after shoppers returned to stores, ecommerce share still settled in at a higher post-lockdown point than it was before the pandemic.
This came in a quarter in which traffic was “relatively good” across both online and in-store, Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette said. It was “flattish” online, and slightly up in stores.
“We do expect that this is the reset year with the penetration between them,” Gennette said. “But we do expect more aggressive growth in digital in the future versus stores as we think about '24 and beyond. And that's going to be foisted by a lot of ideas and strategies.
Over the last year, the retailer has made investments in boosting ecommerce, even as shoppers returned to stores. In a bid to boost the assortment of goods available online, Macy’s launched a marketplace in September 2022 that welcomes goods from third-party sellers.
The marketplace had an “outstanding” first quarter, said Macy’s President Tony Spring, who is poised to succeed Gennette as CEO next year. Gross merchandise value increased over 50% when compared to the fourth quarter of 2022, while the average order value and units per order for marketplace customers was 50% above those not shopping at the marketplace.
Macy’s is continuing to build the marketplace even as it racks up sales. The retailer added 450 brands, ending the quarter with 950 brands.
This is helping to draw in new customers, as well as younger existing customers who are buying more items, resulting in increased basket size.
“We're very excited as to how marketplace is really attracting the Gen Z customer, particularly in categories where it was not economically feasible for us to carry in the past,” Gennette said.
In the end, Gennette said a strong digital and social presence is key to attracting younger consumers. That's a different type of shopper than other age groups.
“We know the younger customer starts first online,” Gennette said. That behavior will still be in place as the generation gets older, and gains more buying power in the process.
Going forward, Macy’s is seeking to expand the model to other retail banners in its portfolio. Bloomingdale’s will open a marketplace in the early fall.
The Macy’s ecommerce trajectory isn’t that different from the wider U.S. ecommerce narrative detailed above. With one quarter of 2023 data, there is evidence that ecommerce share settled out at a higher point after the pandemic than where it started before COVID arrived. There is flattening now, but the retailer is taking it not as a sign of a slowdown, or a signal to change course. Rather, it sees changing consumer behavior as a reason to build for the future.