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Senior Category Manager

Function: Merchandising/Buying
Location: Quill Lincolnshire, Lincolnshire, IL US
Date posted: 9/10/2019 12:05:19 PM
Type: Full-time
Permanent / Contract: Regular
Job number: 1101689

The Senior Category Merchant is responsible for all aspects of assigned high volume and or complex product lines as well as managing and leading a team of up to 5 people.    This includes developing and executing strategic business plans as well as managing key functions to insure budgeted sales and product margin goals are met.  This includes assortment planning, merchandise and vendor selection, negotiation, financial planning, inventory impact implications, promotional planning, merchandise presentation, vendor relations, logistics cost management and administration for assigned lines.   Responsible for developing and executing strategies for driving sales, margin, and competitive differentiation.  The Senior Category Merchant is company subject matter expert for their assigned lines. 

This position is responsible for leading direct and cross functional teams to create a best in class online shopping experience through the eyes of the customer.  They will use data and customer insights to optimize the online shopping experience and revenue through search and all available selling tools.  This is inclusive of identifying, developing and presenting the business case for new shopping tools / enhancements.

The Senior Category Merchant will work effectively across the organization contributing to and driving aligned company initiatives (I.e. acquisition, membership programs). 

This role will support the promotional Go to Market strategy by providing input / recommendations on key product promotions to drive traffic and / contribution margin incrementality.  Negotiate with Vendors for best possible cooperative funding. 

The Senior Category manager will provide clear direction and lead their team to execute key initiatives.  They will manage, mentor and develop the team to become future leaders. 

This role will continuously review internal and external financial reports / data to understand the trends, market conditions, opportunities and risks.  They are responsible for interpreting, communicating and acting as a result of their findings. 

•Partner effectively with Go to Market, Finance, Analytics, Sku Operations, Ecomm, Inventory Management, Agency, Pricing and other functional areas as needed to achieve corporate goals. 

•Expertly interpret financial statements, total costs to serve the product, financial levers and metrics used in merchandising to understand current and future trends.  Identify exceptions and seek additional information when data discrepancies are found.

•Independently develop realistic and effective strategic business plans for high volume and / or complex product lines to achieve budgeted goals in sales, margin, supply chain impact, driving execution and adjustments of the plan.  Identify alternatives for driving sales in face of negative trends.

•Develop deep understanding of customer’s needs and behaviors through customer research. Leveraging customer knowledge and identifying market trends create selling strategies that give Quill.com a competitive advantage.  Independently develop assortment strategies in anticipation of customer needs and select vendors for assigned product lines.

•Develop, execute, and effectively communicate strategy to the highest levels of the company for product lines, taking into account cross-functional implications.  Review business plans to ensure plans align with company strategic objectives and goals. 

•Work closely with Staples Merchant teams to understand terms of Vendor Program Agreements and to ensure Quill specific asks are included.  Expertly negotiate with vendors for lowest total delivered cost, volume incentives, rebates, advertising and other applicable allowances that apply to the Vendor Program Agreement (VPA).  Negotiate incremental Quill specific promotional and Key Supplier Program funding specific to assigned lines of responsibility.

•Works at an expert level of Merchandising for of assigned lines.  Includes innovation, creativity, and proven results in driving sales and profitability, while ensuring service levels with minimal inventory investment.  

•Review and approve financial and item forecast with Planners for individual category ownership as well as Team’s assigned product lines. 

•Effectively manage Return and Allowance rates by identifying problematic SKUs and developing mitigation plans.

•In collaboration with cross-function team, develop and approve disposition plans for vendor transitions and SKU end of life.

•Define role of Own Brand within assigned categories of responsibility. Develop and execute Own Brand strategies within the portfolio.

•Develop and deploy plans to create the most effortless and friendly online experience through the eyes of the customer.  Optimize online shopping experience and revenue through search, browse, ribbons, content, imagery, attributes, cross selling, attachments, product relationships and other enhanced selling tools.

•Utilize insights from web and customer analytics, for on-line, digital, print and sales channels. Partner cross-functionally with channel partners to gain deeper insights, communicate category strategies, and flawlessly execute plans. Understand our targeted marketing capabilities to enhance those contacts and maximize the results of our business. 

•Jointly develop market based pricing strategies with pricing team. Modify as needed based on market conditions and business demands. 

•Responsible for executing promotional strategy driven by the Go to Market team.  Provide input on the best promotions based on the market conditions, sales forecast, category role, vendor negotiations, promo allowances, existing tools, Quill strategies and promo negotiations.  Meet with vendors in development of growth and promotional plans. 

•Facilitates the sharing of business insights, knowledge, and general information to increase team’s productivity.

•Manage and coach a team of Merchants who are responsible for the financial performance of their categories.  Ensure the team’s product assortments will meet our customers’ needs. 

•Develop team members into future leaders in the organization with timely feedback, effective development plans and performance appraisals. Make hiring decisions for staff and ensure there are clear and effective onboarding plans for new associates.

•Removes communication barriers to increase productivity.  Anticipates problems or issues within team and identifies process inefficiencies and process performance gaps.  Demonstrates expertise in processes and is viewed as process expert within merchandising and cross-functional teams. 

•The person in this role needs to demonstrate a high level of creativity and innovation in both operational, fiscal and product development areas.  They need to continually assess activities, processes and workflow.  Must be willing to simplify, improve or stop doing inefficient or ineffective activities.

•Lead a team that drives the execution of the category plans. Develop them into future leaders in the organization with timely feedback, effective development plans and performance appraisals. Make hiring decisions for staff and ensure there are clear and effective onboarding plans for new associates


•Advanced problem solving of complex and potentially high-risk business situations.  Ability to anticipate challenging market conditions, develop and execute contingency plans to appropriately counteract.

•Development of short to mid-term business strategies



Basic Qualifications:


  • College degree required (BA/BS)

  • Minimum 8 years total Merchandising experience in Buying related functions 

  • Basic knowledge of Word, Excel and PowerPoint with proficiency in Access a plus.


Preferred Skills:


  • Excellent written, verbal communication and interpersonal skills.

  • PC literate with the ability to develop and manipulate spreadsheets

  • Ability to drive sales and margin results

  • General knowledge of industry trends, assortment planning, customer buying patterns, inventory management, logistics and marketing techniques

  • Ability to work independently, prioritize and re-prioritize tasks based on fluctuating deadlines while continually meeting deadlines and maintaining a positive attitude.

  • Organizational skills and detail orientated

  • Ability to analyze data, understand key indicators and make decisions using that data.

  • Online merchandising experience



Staples is The Worklife Fulfillment Company, helping businesses of all sizes be more productive, connected and inspired. With dedicated account teams, category professionals, innovative brands and a curated product assortment for business, Staples provides customized solutions to help organizations achieve their goals. Interested in joining the team? Check out our perks and benefits!

Staples is an Equal Opportunity Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, protected veteran status, disability, or any other basis protected by federal, state, or local law.


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