Interview with Sarah LaVallee, VP of Ecommerce at Wandering Bear Coffee

THE “AMAZON FOR CMOS” SERIES

 

DESCRIPTION

It’s time for another installment of our “Amazon for CMOs” podcast series. This week we’re coming back with a replay of a very insightful conversation Kiri had with Sarah LaVallee, VP of Ecommerce at Wandering Bear Coffee. 

It’s been a pleasure to interview Sarah LaVallee for the book as she shared so many nuggets of wisdom in with us. She has quite a few years of experience and you're really going to love her advice for brands looking to take on giants in their own categories.

Before joining Wandering Bear Coffee, Sarah was the director of Ecommerce at the pet brand, I And Love And You. She led both brands strategically through an Ecommerce journey where thinking faster than your competitors is essential, as profitability is key for smaller, private companies.

Sarah's recent career challenges revolved around how insurgents take over incumbents, especially when it comes to leveraging Amazon as a platform. In today's episode, Sarah talks about the contrast between the brand experience with Wandering Bear Coffee and I And Love And You, particularly as it pertains to Amazon and marketplaces because she faced two very different objectives with each of the companies. 

Sarah takes us on a very interesting journey, sharing the story of how she got into Ecommerce, her achievements along her career and her perspective on Amazon. Tune in to learn more about Sarah and hear her useful tips and advice.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Sarah explains what was required to prove out the Ecommerce concept at I And Love And You, in year one.

  • The way that they really leaned into Ecommerce at I And Love And You, after the first year.

  • After leaning into Amazon, the business really started to accelerate, month over month.

  • How they found themselves coming up against some of the really big players. 

  • I And Love And You went from a not even top fifty brand to a top twenty-five brand by the time Sarah left.

  • Why the pet industry was so difficult to take into the Ecommerce world.

  • The more they invested, and the bigger they grew within Amazon, the more people started to notice the brand. Hence, it started to become very costly for them to even defend their brand name.

  • Sarah discusses the tools and services that she made use of, to measure the pet space on Amazon, during her time at I And Love And You.

  • Why Profitero was such a great resource for Sarah during her time at I And Love And You.

  • Sarah explains how the office channel has really been a phenomenal springboard for the Wandering Bear Coffee brand.

  • Sarah explains her plan for getting Wandering Bear Coffee onto the commerce platform.

  • Sarah discusses planning an assortment around what's selling really well in stores, versus online.

  • Making sure your items are profitable is really important for Ecommerce.

  • Smaller brands have to be strategic very with their efforts, and they have to think of the long game, in terms of profitability.

  • Sarah shares her thoughts on Amazon's DSP.

  • It's really important to get the basics on your Ecommerce channel right.

RESOURCES

QUOTES

Sarah: "My first-year journey at ILY was very common to what some of my other e-com folks have told me. It was really about rallying the org. So we had to prove the concept to everyone inside I And Love And You."

Sarah: "After that first year at I And Love And You, we really proved out the concept. Just by tinkering and getting those Ecommerce basics correct."

Sarah: "We were small fish in the big sea and did so well. We were truly an insurgent brand taking on these huge incumbents that had teams and teams of people to optimize absolutely everything from the PDPs to the AMS, to the DSP."

Sarah: "Us smaller brands have to be strategic very with our efforts, and we have to think of the long game."

Sarah: "Know who your competitors are, know the landscape, know who's taking the channel seriously, and go for the low hanging fruit first."

Sarah: "At the end of my three-year run at I And Love And You, people were coming after us."

Sarah: "The office channel has been a phenomenal springboard for the business, for the brand, for everything at Wandering Bear Coffee."

Sarah: "The Ecommerce shopper shops very differently than the brick and mortar shopper and so it's all about looking at the catalog and the assortment, and then doing the things that you need to do to succeed. Leaning in with AMS and DSP, and having a really great lower funnel strategy in terms of coupons and the best deals."

Sarah: "Be like water. Always find another way."