Episode 41 - Designing an Organizational Structure Around Amazon with James Thompson




Today, Kiri is interviewing James Thompson, the director of Etail at Reef, a footwear company and a lifestyle brand. In today's episode, James shares his view on where Amazon fits within an organization and discusses the big challenges that many leaders in his position are facing today. Tune in today and find out more about James’s efforts to align his company around Amazon.

James has a really impressive background in marketing, with about fifteen years of experience in digital marketing and ten years in e-commerce. A few years ago he became the Global Director of digital at the sportswear brand, SKLZ and after a while he moved up to the position of VP of marketing, where he remained for about a year. Recently, he joined Reef, where he has been specializing in e-commerce.

The skillset to really manage Amazon is a digital marketing play. It has its own nuances - very similar to e-commerce.
— James Thompson


  • James gives his definition of what e-tail means in his world.

  • James talks about the marketplaces, other than Amazon, that he is involved with, and how significant Amazon really is, as part of his marketplace business.

  • James explains how his perspective has evolved over time, with where Amazon fits within an organization.

  • The magic that happened, once James gained control of the budget at SKLZ.

  • James discusses the grand play behind the initial tension that was felt when bringing two departments together, at SKLZ.

  • The different motivators within e-commerce and the traditional sales department.

  • Changing the way they looked at the tactics.

  • James explains what started to happen, from a management standpoint, when he brought the two divisions together.

  • The pay-per-click model changes the KPI set.

  • What happened when he stopped running ads on AMG and moved the budget towards paid search.

  • Before, the AMG sales team was much bigger and more aggressive than the paid-search sales team, so many organizations got sold on AMG when AMS would have been a better fit for where they were in their journey.

  • James gives his point of view on the brand side.

  • There's no better brand-play than putting product in new consumers' hands.

  • You can never really know how much of your user base on Amazon is actually new to file.

  • Why Amazon is responding so well to the insatiable need for data from advertisers.

  • Metrics are a powerful data point for budget allocation, as they can be used to shift the overall budget, based on revenue goals, etc.

  • James shares his thoughts on international expansion through the Amazon platform.

  • Knowing your math on Amazon is really powerful.

  • The parts of the Amazon pie that James thinks are really important to keep in-house, rather than leveraging the scale and strengths of an agency.