What can an Amazon Fashion executive do for Beautycounter?

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A decade on from its inception, Beautycounter is looking for an Amazon veteran to help fuel its next phase of growth.

Chief Commercial Officer Kara Trousdale joined the beauty company in March after nearly eight years at Amazon, most recently as chief marketer for Amazon’s fashion division. Embedded in her role are several key responsibilities including scaling Beautycounter’s retail, e-commerce and partnership channels and leading the brand’s overall omnichannel strategy.

A headshot of Kara Trousdale, Beautycounter's Chief Commercial Officer.

Kara Trousdale spent almost eight years at Amazon before joining Beautycounter.

Permission granted by Beautycounter

Beautycounter is a much smaller company than giant Amazon, but Trousdale brings the lessons she’s learned from the retail giant to her new role at the startup, starting with The well-known dictation from Amazon of “customer obsession”. At Amazon, “executives always work backwards from the customer,” Trousdale said in an interview with Retail Dive. She intends to do the same at Beautycounter, paying particular attention to what Beautycounter’s customers want and where they shop to guide the company’s future path.

“How are we growing our DTC channel and how are we thinking about continuing to meet customers where they are?” are two questions Trousdale prioritizes.

The physical experience will certainly play a role in this, especially now that shoppers aren’t as homebound as they used to be. “Things are reopening after being in a strict lockdown,” Trousdale said. “So how do we develop this? How do we envision a really strong virtual presence but also an interesting physical presence, be it in our own retail stores or through other retail partnerships? Those are things I’m evaluating right now.”

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Beautycounter’s own stores — the brand already has a few in key cities like Los Angeles and Denver — will play a role, but how many the company will ultimately operate is unclear. Trousdale simply said that Beautycounter was “evaluating” what a final store footprint might look like. Trousdale is also exploring wholesale partnerships, which is how Beautycounter ended up in the past with Target and Sephora.

“I think wholesale is very important for the beauty category, mostly because we want to be where our consumers are,” Trousdale said.

As well as thinking about its physical footprint and partnerships, Trousdale is investing in Beautycounter’s current channels and implementing another lesson from Amazon: operational excellence. Operations is often a sore spot for startups, with many popular DTC brands struggling to achieve profitability and run operations efficiently once they outgrow their roots.

Trousdale knows something about how to grow a business effectively.

“Learning how to scale businesses really quickly on Amazon is definitely something I can apply to Beautycounter,” Trousdale said. “I was really interested in joining Beautycounter because it wasn’t a startup yet, had a lot of great success and was really ready for the next phase of growth. So think about it: How do I adopt operational best practices?”

Trousdale is one of several Chief Commercial Officers who have recently called on DTC brands in the quest for greatness. The job has grown in importance over the years and is becoming increasingly popular with retailers seeking transformation, according to Catherine Lepard, partner in Heidrick & Struggles’ Chicago office and managing partner of the global retail practice.

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“In these positions, the skillset isn’t cookie-cuttering, but encompasses a variety of backgrounds such as management consulting and strategy, and we’ve seen heavy indexing to talent that came through digital platforms and are more digitally savvy,” Lepard said, per e-mail. Mail. “Companies are looking for Chief Commercial Officers who are focused on growth, think strategically and bring a forward-thinking approach to driving diverse business models.”

In fact, several retail chief commercial officers have been hired to run major DTC brands. As Casper founder Philip Krim resigned in November last yearChief Commercial Officer Emilie Arel assumed the role and has held it ever since taken a clear stance on profitability, and promised to limit what Casper sells and focus on its core products. Likewise beauty favorite Glossier replaces founder Emily Weiss in May with then-Chief Commercial Officer Kyle Leahy. layoffs and theirs first wholesale partnership followed as Leahy developed a new strategy for the brand.

The chief commercial officer position could be well-positioned for CEO succession because it tends to require strategic and visionary skills, Lepard said, but the role is not yet widespread in retail. Lepard pointed to the roles of Chief Operating and Chief Stores as a result of those positions being similarly tapped to take the top spot.

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