Kai Clarke

CMO, COO American Retail Consultants
Kai Clarke Charlotte, NC 28278   LinkedIn: 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 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. 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. 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 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
  • Posted on: 07/18/2019

    Amazon and rivals report record Prime Day results

    Amazon has made Prime Day a retail shopping fixture. This is accelerating the death of the old business models, starting with department stores. We can expect to see retailers who primarily focus on brick and mortar purchasing to also see substantial declines. Amazon is leading the way to the future of retail and writing on the wall is very clear: Adapt or perish.
  • Posted on: 07/17/2019

    Has Prime Day become America’s cue to shop for back-to-school?

    Prime Day has become a major shopping event for back-to-school, Christmas and any other reason someone can find to buy things in July. Major retailers are already looking to compete with Amazon during this time of year and that alone is driving the purchasing frenzy to new levels. We can look forward to this becoming even more entrenched in the American retailer's calendar as Prime Day will become a full national retail shopping day.
  • Posted on: 07/15/2019

    Can the Publix customer service experience be brought online?

    The last mile, including the final delivery by a Publix or non-Publix employee is not important. The key is on-time delivery, and the online customer experience. There are certain brands, how they are available, and what it means to be part of the experiential Publix family that must be captured in the Publix online environment. This is the key, not who delivers the product. Part of the experience includes full 360 degree feedback and super Publix customer service. Sustaining these and growing their online presence are all critical for Publix in the online world.
  • Posted on: 07/10/2019

    When does marketing cross an ethical line?

    Marketing involves the use of tools to best present a product. The issue here is how do we define an "ethical line"? Are we crossing an ethical line when we Photoshop a model's face or body to look more idealistic, even though they are demonstrating a tool, the latest burger, or insurance? Does enhancing the clarity of an image to make it easier to see to the reader cross an ethical line? Where is our vulnerable group definition? Does this mean seniors and children? What about that older billionaire who has profited from stock growth their entire life? How are they vulnerable, or does this mean any senior? Are we distorting the truth when we proclaim how much this drug relieves pain, since we are targeting arthritics, yet others who are exposed to the ads complain because their pain from drinking too much is not helped? Marketing is often focused at a specific target, even though it exposes much larger audiences to its message. Isn't this really the crux of this issue?
  • Posted on: 07/05/2019

    Are ‘veggie burgers’ and ‘oat milk’ confusing to consumers?

    Using improper adjectives to describe a product is clearly confusing to consumers and causes marketplace branding and category definitions to lose simple understanding in the consumer's mind. Marketing this way is not protected under our freedom of speech, but instead a deliberate attempt to confuse and obfuscate the obvious. How can bacon (which comes from pork bellies) come from anywhere but a pig? Using this type of logic means that I can use the label "bacon" to describe peanut butter, beef, lamp, fish, etc. There are no parameters, no defining clarifications on what bacon is, or what it cannot be. The same applies to milk (which comes from an animal, usually a cow). Soy milk, coconut milk, carrot milk, almond milk, etc. all confuse the category and are a poor use of the word milk to cannibalize the historical and intended use of the dairy product milk. We see this abuse all around us and it needs to stop. Simple use of common terms must be enforced at each category level and the FDA should be doing this along with the retailers.
  • Posted on: 06/21/2019

    Did Apple just hand Best Buy the keys to its retailing empire?

    This is clearly a reflection of Apple's understanding that their phones need a reliable, accessible, timely, way to be repaired. It also increases Apple's exposure and forces them to train more Best Buy employees on how to correctly do this, but exposes Apple to poor Best Buy compensation and employee retention practices. The true question will become how is the customer experience for Apple, inside a BB store? Only time will tell how Best Buy manages their employees in terms of compensation, benefits, training, retention, workplace satisfaction and overall happiness.
  • Posted on: 06/19/2019

    Do direct-to-consumer digital brands have advantages over traditional retailers?

    At some level, DTC digital brands have an advantage over traditional retailers in that they openly embrace the digital retailing model and the data it encompasses. However, traditional retailers have started a major shift to develop a full DTC presence of their own, which complements their on-ground presence, as they realize that we are in both a digital and brick and mortar world. At some point, we will see a true tipping point of one of these models as the other one becomes the better way for the majority of shoppers to implement their purchases. Whether it be online, on-ground, or a combination of the two, it is the consumer and their dollar votes who will win out in this digital awareness war.
  • Posted on: 06/18/2019

    Former Snapchat and Quidsi execs come up with possible rival to Amazon

    No. Short and sweet, there is nothing unique about Verishop's model. Free two-day shipping is offered by almost all major competitors including Amazon. Select, free, one-day shipping is also offered by Amazon and Walmart and some others. One-hundred sixty brands? Amazon and Walmart clearly dwarf this, offering almost anything in all categories. Free returns? Same for most online retailers including Walmart and Amazon. Where is Verishop's unique approach? How will Verishop attract consumers who could also go to Amazon, Walmart or others? How can Verishop even make money in a market where the barriers to entry require premium online placement, lower-cost and more value for all of the products that they offer?
  • Posted on: 06/17/2019

    Does self-checkout make sense for Costco?

    Yes. These expedite small volume purchases of just a few items, while also providing more access to more checkouts in less space. This means more customers are handled faster, shorter lines and happier customers.
  • Posted on: 06/12/2019

    What does FedEx’s break with Amazon mean?

    Amazon has been positioning itself to become the provider to itself and others in the small parcel shipping industry. Logistics are a key component to the Amazon recipe of success, and having full control of these is critical for Amazon. Having any partner control Amazon's logistics costs and performance is bad for Amazon. Amazon is clearly defining and building its needs as it builds the logistics channels to manage their business. 3rd parties will not be a component of this, since it impacts customer service, cost and performance directly for Amazon.
  • Posted on: 06/11/2019

    Will a credit builder program create a new legion of loyal Amazon shoppers?

    This is a credit card leveraging Amazon. It is not embracing Amazon shoppers, since prime members cannot use it to their advantage and use it for their purchases from Amazon. Why would Amazon embrace this when they are excluded from the purchases of their audience? Good or bad credit, Amazon wants their reach to grow and their audience to include as many wallets as possible. This product does not embrace this outlook. Excluding Amazon Prime or any Amazon member seems to defeat the entire purpose that Amazon has spent years building.
  • Posted on: 06/02/2019

    What if unwanted online purchases didn’t have to be returned?

    This is a great idea whose time has come. Below a certain value, items should be simply left to the consumer. This takes into account freight charges, reprocessing charges, and return management for the vendor. HBC items, small electronics (chargers, plugs, cables, etc.), fresh food, etc. all fall into this category. The consumer would only be aware of this policy for a particular item after the return process has been initiated. This would minimize abuse of the item (or category). Great idea, whose presence could be leveraged for other things which the consumer could determine. Great PR for the retailer and the supplier on top of this.
  • Posted on: 05/25/2019

    Do the benefits of using facial recognition in retail outweigh the risks?

    Facial recognition is a solution looking for a problem at retail. Just because we have a technology doesn't mean that it is an appropriate tool for use at retail. Also, this article clearly doesn't understand how facial recognition works and the requirements for it. Close proximity is a requirement, and familiar alignment of the face needs to be a key co-factor in facial recognition. Being able to do this with customers who are not purposely allowing this is nearly impossible with today's facial recognition technology (imagine doing this with your phone). So far, the benefits are minimal and with this the risks are even fewer.
  • 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.

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