When Paige Robbins took in a cool $1.178 million in total compensation last year as the chief digital officer of industrial products distributor W.W. Grainger Inc., it was a substantial pay package even for a company that generated $5.84 billion in 2017 e-commerce sales.
B2BBut it wasn’t out of the norm for business-to-business suppliers like Grainger—a distributor of MRO, or maintenance, repair and operations products that companies use to run their businesses—who are willing to pay extra for executives with wide-ranging expertise in digital operations, job recruiters say.
Given the newness of B2B e-commerce for many companies—and the priority many of them are putting on selling online—seasoned B2B e-commerce executives may be able to make more than in established business-to-consumer organizations, says Ecommercerecruiter.com founder Harry Joiner. “When I first began, the chief job requirement for companies where I placed an e-commerce vice president candidate was for their ability to sell stuff online,” Joiner says. “With these big manufacturers, the e-commerce job requirements are entirely different because just knowing how to build an e-commerce channel is only one requirement—these B2B job openings require the person going in to know how to run the table.”
There are plenty of job openings currently available for e-commerce vice presidents. For example, there are 350 openings currently posted on Indeed.com, 133 on LinkedIn.com and 308 on Glassdoor.com. The typical paycheck for a vice president of e-commerce can vary widely. Total annual compensation packages can range from $108,938 to $264,315, based on a recent search on Payscale.com. The annual base salary range is from $102,348 to $232,098 with annual bonus going from $5,051 to $66,987 per Payscale.com.
But B2B e-commerce vice presidents can—and often do—qualify for much bigger packages. In some cases the starting salary can begin at $250,000 and go higher for a seasoned senior executive, Joiner says. That’s because companies are looking for a very often hard-to-find senior e-commerce manager that knows not just how to build and run the e-commerce operation, but also the skills and experience to formulate the business strategy and integrate that strategy across a big and diverse operation that includes sales and marketing, information technology, supply chain and finance, among others, says Joiner.
“A lot of these big companies don’t have a business-to-business e-commerce strategy and they are willing to hire a person who knows how to develop one and pay them well,” Joiner says. “The person who gets a job like that has to know going in how to work the table.”
Specific metrics on salaries and bonuses for senior B2B e-commerce executives are hard to come by mainly because the job requirements for each company can be very unique, Joiner says. “The managers that get the job and prove successful at running a big B2B operation at a company like Grainger can sit down with the CEO and explain the entire strategy, talk e-commerce with the top supply chain manager in a way that explains their role, and do the same for the chief financial and marketing officers,” he says. “They have to develop and execute the e-commerce strategy works across an entire enterprise.”
Big companies have some options for hiring a top senior B2B e-commerce executive. One option is hiring an e-commerce executive with a track record in online retailing. “One company I know of is major developer of raw foods and they just hired a senior e-commerce executive with a big annual package because he had a long track record in online retail,” Joiner says.
Companies also are promoting key internal executives with the skill set that’s been honed as the entire operation grows and expands business-to-business e-commerce. For example, before being named chief digital officer at Grainger last September, Robbins served as senior vice president of global supply chain and corporate strategy and as Grainger’s top supply chain manager. She joined Grainger in 2010 as the vice president of logistics, according to her LinkedIn profile.
“There’s going to be lots of opportunity forthcoming for executives that have, or can or will develop, a very unique skillset for B2B e-commerce,” Joiner says. “The value they bring to a company is seeing and executing the whole picture.”
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