Angela Johnson

Director eCommerce Strategy, VaynerMedia

How did you start working in eCommerce?

I started my career in retail and merchandising as a buyer for Macy’s brick-and-mortar stores about a decade ago. I noticed the shift in consumer behavior of more customers buying products online. It posed a problem for us because back then, omnichannel wasn’t a focus. As buyers, we were trying to figure how to get the consumer to shop between channels, as well as figure out what happens with products if they’re bought in one channel and returned in another. We also noticed people browsing on their mobile phones while in the store, so digital content was influencing what they were buying. I was really interested in moving more into the digital space, so I pivoted to focus on eCommerce only.

I started shifting away from the merchandising side and more towards building strategy, thinking about how to better the customer experience to actually get people to convert. I also started consulting for some small businesses around New York that wanted to use digital marketing to scale their growth. I had a good friend who worked at Vayner, and I heard they were building an eCommerce department that was focused on what I was doing, but for larger-sized clients. It seemed like a great fit for me, so that’s how I ended up here.

Start a little side hustle, and learn the business yourself.

Angela Johnson

Director eCommerce Strategy, VaynerMedia
Angela Johnson

What does your typical work day look like?

My typical work day is very different. I lead the strategy team, so most of the time is spent working directly with our clients on different projects to help them optimize different sales channels. On any given day, I could be taking client meetings, presenting deliverables to them, or working with strategists to help craft what those deliverables are going to be. But I also work very closely with our sales team. We’re constantly pitching new business and speaking with prospective clients about how we can help build their direct-to-consumer business or win on Amazon.

Part of my time is spent meeting with different vendors and partners out in the space to understand how we can better work together to achieve success with our clients. Another part of my day is self-education because Commerce is being reinvented all the time. I’m constantly learning along with everyone else what’s happening in the space — keeping abreast of what’s going on in eCommerce news, what the top players are doing, recent M&As, and more.

What do you love most about your job?

I love the challenge. In the agency environment, we work on a lot of different brands across a lot of different verticals, so I’ve done everything. I’ve worked on projects from beauty, to CPG, to food and beverage, and even alcohol.

It’s challenging to deep dive into each one of these categories, and understand the nuances with each one: what’s working for them, what does best-in-class look like, what are their business models, and so on. It requires a lot of analysis, being curious, asking a lot of questions, and researching things on my own. To me, it doesn’t really feel like work — I find it so interesting.

What advice would you give to others looking to work in the industry?

Experiment. Sometimes that could include having a side hustle. There are members of our team who have become Amazon sellers. We have some people on our team with their own Shopify stores where they’re selling their own products: either dropshipping from China or handling it in the US themselves. We have some people on our team who are flipping things on eBay. To get some experience and understand how these platforms work, I think it’s best to have a little side hustle, and learn the business yourself.

What do you think is the next big trend that will define the industry?

I would say voice is the next big trend. Consumer behavior is starting to shift there, even though purchasing through voice is still very low. A lot of people have a hard time buying without seeing the product first or without having an easy way to pay. Still, we’re seeing voice searches go up across smart speakers and mobile phones. I think as the technology gets better, purchasing behavior is going to shift towards that as well.

So, when it comes to voice commerce, how do we make that shopping experience better and more seamless for the consumer? And as a brand, how do you capitalize on that?

Are there other women in the industry that you admire & why?

Carrie Bienkowski, the CMO of PeaPod. I heard her speak at the Digital Grocery Summit — she has such brilliant, insightful, and valuable things to say. She’s very motivational.

I also admire Rebecca Minkoff. As the leader of the [eponymous] brand, she’s wholeheartedly embraced eCommerce. I really admire what she’s doing in terms of shifting the mindset within her own company, while embracing technology and incorporating it into the shopper experience. She also hosts her own women’s series to empower women and help them learn from each other, with events around New York City.

Another woman I respect is Ty Haney, CEO and Founder of Outdoor Voices. Not only did she focus on building a great product, but she and her team have done a really great job standing out in a crowded, oversaturated market. She’s also surrounded herself with other experienced, knowledgeable women to ensure the longevity of her brand and put a spotlight on female leadership.