Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

My Ecommerce Hero: Janis Thomas, Marketing Director & Ecommerce Leader

My Ecommerce Hero is a series celebrating brilliance in ecommerce, in association with, an initiative from Entropy‘s Alex Tait to encourage more female speakers at industry events. We’re asking leaders in the ecommerce sector to nominate their own heroes and explain what they’ve done that’s so important.

Janis Thomas is a specialist consultant who has worked with a wide range of organisations including Delatre, Birchbox, Lebara and Playbody

1. Who is your ecommerce hero?

Russell McAthy, CEO of Ringside Data

2. What have they done to win hero status in your eyes?

Russell really opened my eyes to the importance of attribution and how it can drive marketing success. He’s a brilliant, collaborative partner. He’s constantly looking at data in different ways to find new insights and always seeking new challenges. 

3. How has their heroism helped drive ecommerce?

I think there’s a trend towards focusing on digital, conversion, growth hacking etc. On the other hand, brand marketing needs to be more accountable and data driven.

Russell helped me see that a deep understanding of the role that every aspect of my marketing plays can drive true success.

I like the analogy of a football team. If you hired every player solely on their ability to score goals, you wouldn’t have a winning team. Different types of marketing have different roles to play.

Russell takes a subject that could be dry and makes it inspiring. He absolutely loves data and is so excited by the insights it creates.

4. What the biggest challenges in ecommerce we need another hero to solve?

I think AI driven comms and experience is a huge opportunity for all areas of marketing, but most especially ecommerce.

There are a lot of challenges: 

●      Identifying and sourcing the right data to go into the model

●      Creating a starting set of assumptions and actions 

●      The right outputs in terms of comms and experiences 

●      Evaluating performance, refining inputs, assumptions and outputs, continuously evolving and improvising 

It’s a powerful opportunity but it takes a lot of effort to reach its potential.

5. What is your most heroic personal achievement so far in ecommerce?

I’m most proud of the growth that I achieved at Birchbox. The work that we did with Russell really helped us understand the whole journey to purchase. We invested in brand marketing and were able to measure its contribution to conversion and later to retention and lifetime value. It meant that we could invest more in the right areas at every point of the journey and grow faster and more profitably as a result. 

6. Is there a diversity problem in ecommerce and how can we best address it if so?

I think I’ve encountered similar volumes of talented women and men in the industry. Though that balance is not necessarily represented at events. Organisers need to find fresh talent and make a conscious effort to represent the industry. Kirsty Hulse is doing great things at Roar Training to equip women with the skills and confidence they need to volunteer themselves.

I think the bigger problem is ethnic diversity. Change needs to come from actively seeking fresh perspectives, experiences and ideas. Not just hiring someone who’s done exactly the same role for another company in the same industry.