PROFILE

Kai Clarke

CMO, COO American Retail Consultants
Kai Clarke Charlotte, NC 28278  kaiclarke@gmail.com  LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kaiclarke/ GLOBAL VP OF SALES AND MARKETING, TECHNICAL COO AND MANAGEMENT EXECUTIVE / COO, CMO CRADLE TO GRAVE MARKETING EXPERTISE / 3PL LOGISTICS OPTIMIZATION EXPERT / AMAZON GURU Results-oriented revenue and profit driven, global CMO with an MBA and a strong eCommerce, logistics, architectural and LED lighting, consumer products and eCommerce background. Proven road warrior and Amazon guru, skilled in establishing and managing new global divisions with $200 million profit and loss responsibility, including cradle to grave manufacturing, product planning, forecasting, logistics, tracking and analysis modeling. This includes managing, creating and overseeing digital, SEO, social media and online marketing (lead prospecting, lead generation, follow up, networking, social media, Nielsen, IRI and customer service). Marketing leader with a strong technical aptitude including expertise in consumer product design (CPG), manufacturing, logistics, Import / Export, architectural lighting and fixture sourcing, eCommerce / Amazon and retail sales, and marketing and channel development. Practiced leader in strategic direction, data mining, international product sourcing, leadership and new business planning. Exceptional clarity in situations where resources must be altered in a self-sustaining growth structure Management Strengths include: • Consultative and solutions-oriented leadership across entire organizations in over 100 markets • Leading successful small company, start-up and business turn-arounds from $5 million to $200 million • Growing top line revenues through rapid new product creation, global OEM/ODM manufacturing, marketing, branding and positioning by building teams with balanced communication and execution including full web and mobile technology marketing as part of the end to end go to market strategy • Knows when to strategize, when to manage, when to escalate and when to execute • Developing global teams to achieve rapid revenue and profit growth in Europe and Asia exceeding 50% • Brand equity development and new market penetration managing 260+ people in over 37 countries • $200 MM+ P&L Management with a bottom line focus and the ability to operate at a strategic level • Contract, sub-contract and strategic alliance negotiations throughout our supply chains saving 18+% • Global logistics and account management to grow business throughout Asia (40%) and Europe (50%) • Extensive travel throughout Europe and Asia over the last 20 years, including living part-time in China over the last 8 years as well as many years growing up as a military brat in Europe. PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE AMERICAN RETAIL CONSULTANTS, CHARLOTTE, NC 2014 – Present Private, Retail Consulting and Operational Consulting Firm, Founded in 2014 in Los Angeles American Retail Consultants, Inc., an American based company that helps establish Chinese companies including architectural lighting and LED fixtures, consumer electronics, CPG hardware manufacturers (and all international companies) create USA focused B2B, B2C, retail, Amazon, eCommerce / Online, distribution sales and marketing, management, development, and consulting company of retail hard goods, CPG, electronics, and consumer products. VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES & MARKETING AND CMO (Reports to CEO) (Direct Reports: 3 Country Managers and 3 Marketing Managers) Responsible for the P&L development and execution of commercial strategy and tactics as part of the multi-million dollar American marketing, sales, logistics, and operations of several international initiatives. Focused on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our customer’s LED and architectural lighting operations, processes, and logistics from cradle to grave including overseas manufacturing and domestic sales. • Elevated KPI revenues to 44% year-over-year growth using strategic direction and operational maximization, with a strong emphasis on reducing expenses while establishing leadership in target markets and fostering technology engagement platforms • Created new partner growth of 84% for 2013 leveraging Internet, Amazon B2B and B2C marketing initiatives, defining our new corporate focus and set priorities, establishing objectives, plan and allocate resources, lead execution, and results management • Reduced overall costs by 32% by creating mid-range business plans and yearly budgets, while establishing corrective expense action plans and achievable KPIs. • Identified 61 new commercially viable market activities, reducing COGS by 6%. Sourced new products to diversify our product portfolio and partnering opportunities, including sourcing new products from new partners in China, and Continually developed superior P&L results by leading global teams to optimize business performance and market development focusing on strategic web, software, and partner marketing activities. • Elevated key BU revenues to 28% year-over-year growth (product and Import / Export sourcing) using strategic direction and operational maximization, with a strong emphasis on reducing expenses while establishing leadership in target China markets. • Identified and created new retail branding, packaging design, EDI, digital, and content marketing and partner efforts for all retail eCommerce / Amazon, electronic and LED products in each of their diverse channels including Wal-Mart, Amazon, Home Depot, Lowes, Walgreens, Graybar, Target, Costco, and other key partners. VIRIBRIGHT LED LIGHTING http://www.viribright.us/ CHARLOTTE, NC 2016 – 2017 Private, Electrical/Electronic Manufacturing, 11-50 Employees, Founded 2010, HQ: Corona, CA Viribright is a division of Matrix Lighting Inc., which is a subsidiary of Matrix Holdings Limited. Matrix Holdings Limited was established in 1979 and has been listed on the Hong Kong Limited Stock Exchange since 1994. Matrix Holdings Ltd. has factories in China and Vietnam with a total of over 20,000 employees worldwide. VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES AND MARKETING (Reported to President and Board) (Direct Reports: 1 Director and 1 National Sales Manager. Sales force of 35 in the USA) • Created 28 new SKUs with firm targets and objectives for both the online/Amazon and traditional marketing and sales organizations embracing a strategic top-to-top marketing effort aligned with market requirements. • Worked with over 85 LED distributors, brokers and key account category managers to cross-merchandise, promote and build our Viribright brand worldwide at accounts like Walmart, Amazon, Graybar, WESCO, Consolidated Electrical (CED), Ace, Do it Best, Best Buy, Lowes, Orgill, Home Depot, True Value and Costco. • Identified and optimized our new Internet, eCommerce, Amazon, B2B and B2C marketing initiatives to reduce inventory by 45% in the first 6 months by defining our new corporate focus while setting priorities, establishing objectives, planning and allocating resources, lead execution, and results management resulting in new partner growth. • Improved sales by over 30% in our top 25 accounts through sales team coaching, mentoring, collaborative problem solving and goal achievement to realize a coordinated Viribright marketing position MIRACLEBEAM PRODUCTS, INC. LOS ANGELES, CA 2006 - 2014 Private, Consumer Electronics & Products, 100+ Employees, Founded 1992 VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES AND MARKETING AND COO (Reported to CEO and Board of Directors) (Direct Reports: National Sales Manager, 3 Regional Managers, Sales force of 85, 2 Marketing staff and China Sourcing Office) Living part of the time over the last 8 years, from my second home in China and the remainder of the time from my base in Los Angeles, my global focus was split between managing our China based LED lighting and fixtures and electronic hardware manufacturing, USA online and traditional LED and electronic sales, logistical and FDA focused marketing operations from multiple locations in both China and our USA headquarters every month, to maximize our profitability by managing, and leveraging the company’s resources and assets to grow Miraclebeam’s share of the LED and CPG markets. • Exceeded 20% revenue growth over the last 8 years by creating and implementing a national architectural lighting and LED / Laser/ CPG electronics, eCommerce, channel distribution, and logistics strategy. Improved product quality in our Chinese Partner’s LED lighting and electronics factories and restored our client Import / Export service levels to world-class FDA standards. Maintained and improved operational and financial performance of the company for our retail partners in branded (OEM) and house-branded (ODM) products. • Increased client growth (60%+) in 15 different product categories assessed LED/Laser market opportunities, competitive research, trend analysis and evolving global product needs to develop a business growth plan, based on gaining LED and Laser market share through new product research and development, and client growth (60%+) in 15 different product categories and through the sourcing, licensing and manufacturing of over 400 new SKUs for major retailers including government (GSA), Wal-Mart, Amazon, Sears/K-Mart, Kroger, AAFES, Walgreens, Fry’s, $.99 Only, Petco, Petsmart, Publishers Clearing House, True Value, Do It Best, Ace, OSH, Family Dollar, Big Lots, Meijer, 7/11, etc. • Reduced budgets by 9% through the maximization of our corporate LED and Laser logistics, automation and operational efficiencies to support annual growth plans and improve earnings including LEAN manufacturing and warehousing, and Import / Export development, while providing tracking initiatives for continuous and never-ending improvement (exceeding FDA standards), which were globally communicated, supported, and remotely managed • Saved over 6% by forecasting annual capital expenditure projections/submissions while actively overseeing our purchase order and accounts payable processes resulting in savings of 6% COMPACT POWER SYSTEMS (CELLBOOST) LOS ANGELES, CA 2003 - 2006 Private, Consumer Electronics, 50 Employees, Founded 1999 Vice President of Sales and Marketing- COO (Reported to Board of Directors) (Direct Reports: Marketing Director and National Sales Manager, International Sales Manager, 25 Sales Reps and 12 Marketing Support staff) As Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and COO of this $50 million, entrepreneurial-focused team, my key focus was on providing direction and leadership to our financial, operational and management teams to ensure short and long-term revenue growth and profitability. • Created over $17 million dollars in new revenues in both OEM and commercial channels (Cellboost) while increasing store distribution from 10,000 store fronts to over 80,000 store fronts with partners like Fox Entertainment, Disney, Time Warner, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Costco, Circuit City, Best Buy, Radio Shack, Staples, Office Depot, K-Mart, CompUSA, 7/11, AAFES and others. • Produced sustainable and ongoing financial cost reductions of over $200,000 per quarter while elevating service quality, manufacturing and customer service through six sigma best practices and ISO (9001, 9002) implementations • Responsible for the strategic direction of all aspects of an organization's operational policies, objectives, and initiatives, while attaining short- and long-term financial and operational goals • Decreased warehouse inventories by over $1 million in 2005, lowered logistical costs by over $200K, while increasing product turns. • Designed, introduced, manufactured and marketed 16 new items in 7 new categories (OEM and retail), to provide a broader product base for increased revenues while establishing our full web and mobile technology marketing as part of the end to end go to market consumer and carrier strategy • Developed relationships with 10 new marketing partners in 2003, and created over 30 new SKUs including all roadmap, collateral and POP materials within each category PLANAR SYSTEMS, INC. http://www.planar.com/ PORTLAND, OR 2000 - 2003 Public, Computer Hardware & Digital Signage Technology, 201 – 500 Employees, Founded 1983 VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES AND MARKETING / GENERAL MANAGER OF COMMERCIAL MONITORS (Reported to President) (Direct Reports: 24 Sales people and 4 Staff) Recruited to start-up and develop a new commercial monitor division within the existing company. Responsible for new business revenues of over $80 million in sales, amid 3 years of company reductions. • Grew the business from concept to over $15 million in new revenues for the first year; over $60 million in the second year by defining our roadmap, creating OLED and LCD products to fill the channels and differentiating these targets by segmenting each market for key retailers and consumers • Developed 37 new commercial and OEM, SKUs and created all OEM, ODM, Consumer and Commercial sales marketing materials, product collateral, packaging and directed product and business development for the unit’s electronic and traditional OLED and LCD sales and marketing efforts. • Collaborated with industry leaders like Wal-Mart, Dell (OEM), MicronPC, CDW (OEM), Staples, Costco, Best Buy, Circuit City to create unique products, positioned to appeal to diverse channels, within each retail roadmap segment. ENERGIZER, INC. http://www.energizerholdings.com/ ST. LOUIS, MO 1999 - 2000 Public, Consumer Goods, 1,001 – 5,000 Employees, Founded 1896 DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL OEM SALES AND MARKETING (Reported to VP Sales and Marketing) (Direct Reports: 40 Country Market Managers, CMMs and Staff) Brought in to strategically re-define and reposition our corporate, global, OEM and channel, sales and marketing (e-centric, direct and distribution marketing) strategy. Responsible for over $108 million in revenue. Redefined our marketing team’s strategic planning processes and roadmap development to complement our key global alliance partner objectives. • Increased sales by over 11% in 1999. Established firm targets and objectives for both the marketing and sales organizations embracing a strategic top-to-top marketing effort aligned with market requirements. • Created $12 Million in new revenue in 2000 working with distributors, brokers and Fortune 100 Brand Managers to cross-merchandise, promote and build our battery brands worldwide at accounts like K-mart, Office Depot, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Home Depot, Circuit City and Costco. Key projects with Sony, Sharp, Black and Decker, Philips, GE, Stanley, Philips, Disney, and Mattel. • Achieved 6 new design-wins, created over $4 million in new business development revenue and increased product branding and revenues. Led Philips Pronto and Microsoft Toy energy design implementation from cradle to grave and marketed this to all corporate divisions. PROCTER & GAMBLE /GILLETTE/DURACELL, INC. SAN FRANCISCO, CA 1995 - 1999 https://us.pg.com/ Public, Consumer Goods, 10,001+ Employees, Founded 1837 GLOBAL OEM MARKETING DIRECTOR (Reported to VP OEM Sales and Marketing) (Director Reports: 37 Sales and Marketing OEM Country Managers) Managed our global OEM specialist marketing and sales teams, developing and cultivating new and existing products, major accounts and partnerships. Responsible for over $95 Million in revenue. Expert in new product creation, industry trade marketing, and retail trends, pricing, category practices, and product positioning. Created and marketed emerging solutions through competitive analysis, product definition, and the coordination of engineering, marketing, sales and design. Drove alignment and marketing initiatives across product groups and company teams. • Successfully secured 23 design-wins (hardware, software, service) involving global Duracell strategic partners in 1998. • Increased revenues by over $36 million in 1998, through new product differentiation in diverse markets. • Facilitated 11 Mobile, Medical, Handheld, Wireless and battery design-ins with the European and Asia Pacific global marketing teams while managing winning marketing projects worldwide. • Achieved over $95 million in new revenues in 1997. • Number 1 performer in 1997 by coordinating cross merchandising and new brand development with key partners in Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Costco, Kroger, Target, Staples, Office Depot and Home Depot stores. • Increased Shipments by 60% over an 8-month period and created 9 new design-wins in 1996. Created “Device of the Month” co-promotional campaigns with mobile and wireless devices from Disney, Philips, 3Com, J&J, Sharp, Toshiba, GE and Logitech. UNIVERSITY OF PHOENIX –1999-2016 (PART-TIME) SENIOR UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR Part-time, active MBA professor, mentoring and teaching students in multiple disciplines in the Graduate School of Business. My desire and aptitude for learning and understanding of new technologies and concepts has required a traditional, as well as an Internet-based teaching style, since my classrooms are facilitated electronically “on line.” Areas of focus include Graduate Computer Science, Critical Thinking, Organizational Behavior, Marketing, Management and Communications. EDUCATION: MBA-Michigan State University / UOP: MBA – Marketing with emphasis in International Management, Finance, Organizational Behavior, Computer Science, 4.0 – Advanced Graduate Studies toward PHD. B.A.-Michigan State University: BA - Advertising Management-Minor in Economics and Mathematics Training: Executive Education in Global Supply Chain Management, Stanford University - GE Executive Training: Global Leadership Management Development; Xerox Advanced Selling Skills (DCVB, SPIN), Six Sigma Champion and Green Belt Fluent in English (native), French, versed in German and some Chinese
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  • Posted on: 05/23/2019

    Can a startup undercut Rent the Runway in the clothing rental space?

    There appears to be room for many more startups in this market as the pricing and offerings still have yet to be clearly identified. How much to charge for a monthly offering and how many pieces to offer are not clearly defined. Add to this the types of fashion that each of these startups (and their brands) offers, and it is clear that we will see a market that is churning consumers as it identifies itself and the categories it will play in. The burning question really circles around how viable the clothing rental space is in the mid- and long-term.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2019

    Should retail boards include seats for store associates?

    No. Good corporate governance has nothing whatsoever to do with having store associates represented on their board of directors. The board of directors has a vested interest in maximizing their shares and those of the shareholders they represent. This may not always be in the best interest of the public, but the ability of the board to better manage the corporation is key to the company's success. This is why boards of directors have well-versed members who can provide value from their experiences, and add diversity to the corporation from a corporate perspective. Having store associates as board members does not assure success in any way. In fact, losing this seat to an employee who is unaware of how to manage corporations, including budgeting, forecasting, legal issues, etc. would prove to be a hindrance, not an asset.
  • Posted on: 05/21/2019

    How should retailers raise prices to offset tariffs?

    Don't. This is my first word of advice to retailers who are trying to match pricing with tariffs. Market pricing should reflect market conditions, not governmental duties. Any smart retailer has multiple SKUs for any particular category and just because one of these (Chinese based) is more expensive doesn't mean that all of the others are. Also, sometimes a particular product is price inelastic (this means that pricing has little or no impact on the product's sales velocity. Finally, if retailers are going to be in the tariff game, are they also going to be in the fuel game, logistics and packaging game, etc. I doubt it. Retailers need to focus on their core competencies ... retail. Not tracking prices from external forces.
  • Posted on: 05/20/2019

    Kroger launches accelerator fund

    This is an interesting strategy that needs to be better reviewed. The article does not cite any numbers for ROI for each dollar that Kroger is investing in this concept. More importantly, why is Kroger focusing on this, which is clearly out of its core competency? What will it take for Kroger to stay focused on maximizing its key businesses rather than spending even more dollars on other businesses? How do these investments allow Kroger to become a better grocery supplier and improve their gross revenues and returns? These are just some of the questions that I have for Kroger.
  • Posted on: 05/01/2019

    Are smartphones making sales associates obsolete?

    No, smartphones are not replacing sales associates. Instead, they are enhancing the sale through better, more informed decision making. This increases competition, drives customer service higher, and reduces post purchase dissonance. Smartphones are a sales associate's best friend, not their enemy!
  • Posted on: 04/30/2019

    Is PetSmart barking up the right tree with its Chewy.com IPO?

    Going public will allow Chewy.com increased operating capital so that it can make system-wide improvements to better reflect customer expectations that align with Amazon level customer service, delivery and management. It will take at least 3 years for Chewy to become profitable, but segmenting it away from PetSmart and its store-centric model will allow it to better focus and react.
  • Posted on: 04/29/2019

    Why can’t Amazon convert Prime shoppers into Whole Foods shoppers?

    For grocery, it is just not time for Prime! This should be Amazon's slogan, while they patiently concentrate on other parts of their business. Online grocery shopping does not offer a solution that the majority of Americans are looking for, let alone premium (Prime) subscribers. Online grocery shopping is a solution looking for a problem where one does not exist. Who wants to give up the enjoyable grocery experience of personally shopping, or to trust on someone to pick out the better bananas, tomatoes, cuts of meat, or select cheeses for you? Clearly, Americans do not trust a third party to do this, nor do they want to give up the enhanced grocery shopping experience (I enjoy shopping at TJ's, Costco and Publix), where they can try foods before they buy, select alternate brands as they shop, and see, touch and feel their purchases. Amazon needs to listen better to their consumers and simply wait for a better time to focus their resources on the online grocery shopping experience.
  • Posted on: 04/26/2019

    Should (can) rivals meet the free one-day delivery bar being set by Amazon?

    Amazon's evolution to a one-day shipping standard is just one more way to continue challenging the retail segment. Moving to this standard requires the rest of the retail world to enhance its performance, customer service, and delivery (logistics) management. This performance level is already being demanded by consumers, and Amazon is only further enhancing the value of its Amazon Prime service. This continues to strengthen its web services presence including content delivery for its growing online presence. We have to remember that Amazon is first and foremost a web services, content and web promotion company, and this is where it makes its money and share of market (share of eyeballs) are key to delivering enhanced expectations to its current and future customers.
  • Posted on: 04/25/2019

    Farm Stores goes big with tiny eco-friendly drive-thrus

    Using recycled shipping containers is a great idea for Farm Stores. Lowered costs, smaller footprint, and higher efficiencies are major tenets of success when establishing growth in the convenience store channel. Location of these will be critical, as will be establishing the right balance between drive-thru/walk-through in a single location. Farm Stores does risk becoming nothing more than a gas station-sized convenience store, without the draw of getting gas to pull customers in. How Farm Stores attracts customers and keeps them coming back will be a key question for the success of Farm Stores.
  • Posted on: 04/24/2019

    Kohl’s goes all-in on Amazon returns

    Smart, smart, smart. Kohl's is using Amazon's reach to bring new customers into their stores by simply offering an easy drop point for their returns. It is amazing that other stores have not worked with Amazon to do this. Kohl's can only win with this partnership, and the cost is so limited (just someone to confirm the product drop off and managing the UPS/USPS/FedEX pick-up). When you consider the cost to promote the brand to attract current and new customers, this business model clearly offers a tremendous upside for Kohl's.
  • Posted on: 04/23/2019

    Did anyone win the Stop & Shop strike?

    As long as we have a management vs. worker mentality in American business, labor strikes and contract negotiations are a necessary evil. Why would any employee-minded company even consider cutting healthcare and retirement benefits? How can a company thrive in an environment where they don't pay a robust wage and don't pay time and a half on weekends? These concepts have been dropped years ago by modern companies who recognize that their companies thrive when employees are happy and when they offer competing wage and benefits in a modern, employee-centric environment. The employees clearly won here, but at what cost? Most importantly why was Stop & Shop embracing archaic business models that did not promote and reward an employee-centric environment where there workers thrived and felt like they were duly rewarded?
  • Posted on: 04/22/2019

    Why is Petco doubling down on same-day delivery with Shipt and Instacart?

    Same day, next day or any delivery expectation should be part of any retailer's business model, since it is part of the consumer's expectations. The real question here is why is Petco limiting their logistics carriers to just Shipt and Instacart when UPS, FedX, and even the USPS all offer same day delivery? Who delivers the product isn't news, but instead how quickly should be the news. Petco should be refocusing their business around getting the best shipping (at the lowest costs) for themselves and their customers, not on who is doing the shipping!
  • Posted on: 04/22/2019

    The North Face starts petition to make Earth Day a national holiday

    Creating a campaign to establish Earth Day as a national holiday is a great PR idea, but not much else. It is smart to have other brands support this, but in reality it is just another day for us to celebrate, not a true national holiday. There are so many other "causes" which are vying for national holiday status that we almost have to take a pause and reflect at what truly qualifies as a national holiday (what about National Garlic Day or National Donut Day?).
  • Posted on: 04/09/2019

    What are retailers and suppliers to do when caught between Amazon and Walmart?

    Retailers need to adapt or perish. Working with your suppliers, including your logistics providers (suppliers) is part of this equation. So is competing on a platform that includes a mobile/online communication solution that is competitive, easy to use and priced accordingly. Working with your category competitors (read co-op) to leverage better purchasing strengths, faster delivery schedules and more competitive positioning is not illegal, just smart. One of the key solutions here is teamwork for all retailers, suppliers and providers.
  • Posted on: 04/01/2019

    Harris Teeter tests self-checkout store

    Self-checkout just makes more sense for a grocery model. Any way to control costs, expedite customers through the payment process, and allow for more flow (self-check stands take up less room) is a win. As the self-check stands get more accurate, the flow will increase and consumers will prefer this model over a "high touch" traditional model.

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