Managing Innovation, Strategy, and Operational Efficiency

Amanda Schreier is the General Manager of Global eCommerce at Sea to Summit, a leading distributor of light, compact, and rugged camping gear for every type of outdoor adventure. In her role, she manages the company’s digital sales channels and warranty department. Having spent 10 years at Sea to Summit, Amanda began as a sales coordinator before launching and managing a new business venture in DTC sales.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Amanda Schreier’s entrance into marketing
  • What is Amanda’s favorite aspect of Sea to Summit and her role at the company?
  • The central marketing trends and issues of 2024 
  • How to balance innovation and strategy
  • Sea to Summit’s global expansion plans for 2024
  • Advice for launching and scaling an e-commerce business

In this episode…

In today’s fast-paced marketing landscape, DTC and e-commerce brands must determine how to operate efficiently while increasing production and creating personalized experiences. How can you develop a strategy that integrates each initiative?

With extensive experience managing an e-commerce brand, Amanda Schreier highlights the value of offering bundles to discount and sell multiple products simultaneously. This allows brands to communicate their stories and accelerate production and sales. When conceiving and launching new innovative ventures, Amanda proposes identifying and specifying your strategic vision and assigning each team member responsibilities that align with the established goal.

Join Samir Balwani in this episode of Ecom Experiences as he hosts Amanda Schreier, the General Manager of Global eCommerce at Sea to Summit, who talks about brands’ top-of-mind challenges for 2024. Amanda shares advice for launching and scaling an e-commerce business, Sea to Summit’s global expansion plans, and how to balance innovation and strategy.

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Resources mentioned in this episode:

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:04

Welcome to another episode of Ecom Experiences a podcast for ecommerce marketing leaders who want to grow and scale their brands faster. Join us as we interview some of the smartest brand founders and marketing leaders in the industry. Explore the lessons they learned discover the keys to their success, discuss what excites them most about the future.

Samir Balwani 0:28

I had Samir Balwani Here host of Ecom Experiences where we talked to brand founders and marketing leaders about their experiences growing brands. This episode is brought to you by QRY QRY's a paid media agency that helps brands balanced brand awareness and performance marketing to drive predictable and profitable growth. To learn more about how we can help you visit I'm really excited about our guest today I have Amanda Schreier, the general manager of global e commerce at Sea to Summit today. I'm so excited to have her here. Thank you for joining us.

Amanda Schreier 0:59

We're so excited to be here. Cool. Well,

Samir Balwani 1:02

I mean, first things first, tell us your story. How'd you get started in marketing? What made you come down this deep dark path that is ours, our world?

Amanda Schreier 1:13

Well, you know, I was in college, graduated 2011. And the internet was obviously a big hot thing. So I was like, I need to be near it and around it. And so I got a job at comScore, which is kind of ecommerce analytics. They do multiple things now. And I worked there for nine months, and I absolutely hated it. And so I quit my job spent most of it researching how I could live abroad, which was very done at a web, a web tracking company. And I moved to Prague for a year and I taught English. And when I came back, I knew that it was time I wanted the regular nine to five with happy hours and you know, office gossip. And so what I did was I looked for jobs in the outdoor industry, because outdoors are is a huge passion of mine skiing, backpacking, you name it. And I found Sea to Summit, which is based in Boulder, Colorado. Our headquarters is actually in Perth, Australia. And the story there is Sea to Summit was founded by a mountaineer and his friend who thought that it was kind of cheating to start your ascent of Everest from base camp. And so they started from the Baden gall to the top of Everest and went from Sea to Summit. And the friend Roland Tyson designed all the gear for the jury, and Roland is in Perth, Australia. So we're actually an Australian company, but our North American office is in Boulder, Colorado. And so working for Sea to Summit has been an awesome opportunity. And that one of the unique things of Sea to Summit 10 years ago was we didn't have an online business. And so I think I've actually found in E commerce specifically, it's more often than not stop started by someone who just raised their hand and said, Hey, we should really do this. And so I raised my hand and I launched our econ business about six years ago, and have been growing the North American business since then. We then launched an Australian ecommerce business in 2020. Within a month, and then we are currently in the works of launching up to 10 to 12 markets over the next three years in Europe. So it very quickly grew and found found success at Sea to Summit and it's been a fun ride.

Samir Balwani 3:39

I love the I love the brand story. I love your journey as you get to it. And you're one of my favorite things about as I talk to a lot of these, a lot of marketing leaders like yourself, passion for the brand is so apparent. And I think it's really hard to market something that you are yourself are not excited about. And and so I love that. So you've been at Sea to Summit for six years now. So tell me what's your favorite part about the brand about your role? What do you like doing?

Amanda Schreier 4:11

I think as you kind of just mentioned, it comes down to the product. So it's really neat to be the end user of your product, but also the one responsible for bringing it to the customer. And so working with Sita Summit, we get to work with an amazing product design team who is pretty consistently launching award winning innovative products. And then our challenge as an E commerce team is how do you bring that product story to life online? Which isn't easy. You know, sometimes it's like how do you like we have a spoon that honestly they spent tons of money designing spoon to the to the fact that the shape of the head of the spoon is perfectly designed to not rip the corners. So things little details like that that you just get to get excited about and then think of about how you bring that story to life online. And so it's just been a you know, they're also kind of wacky. We also have a dry bag that holds toilet paper that we had call them out house. So we also have the kind of those fun products where you're like, sure, yeah, see if it sticks. So it's it's really comes down to the product. And the fact that our product gets people outside is, and we get to help facilitate that. That's

Samir Balwani 5:25

amazing. It's also it's awesome to hear about how the product so much thought goes into the product. Because anything, a lot of people forget that marketing starts with the product, like you can try as hard as you want to market something. But if it's not a good product anybody wants, it's not going anywhere. So I do love that you guys, design products, use your products, get you to use them, then hiring anyone else to use them. And I think that's a really cool thing. That's awesome. Amanda, tell me, as kind of we look ahead to the year, what are the biggest challenges that you're really thinking about? Like, what are you looking at, hoping to overcome and think are the largest risks as you look ahead?

Amanda Schreier 6:15

So I think the theme of the year is do more with less. And so it's yeah, it's been spending a lot of time thinking through how we operate, and how we can do it more efficiently, quicker. But also, how do we increase our production? So a good simple example would be email marketing, you know, that personalization trend has been marked as a trend for like the last five years. And with that personalization, personalized experiences, it just means more content. So how do we find ways to achieve that we're a customer base with the same number of team members. And also in a way that's cost efficient. So that's been a big thing. I think, firstly, a challenge for how we look at Sea to Summit and how we grow over the next five years. I think there's also been a lot of talk about bundling. So bundling is viewed as a great way to kind of sell multiple products at once slip into discount, get the product out there. It all for our outdoor hard goods company where I see bundling is huge opportunity is it's it allows us to really tell the full story of a product line. So specifically for backpacking, we have this thing called a sleep system where you have your sleeping mat, your sleeping bag, a pillow and a sleeping bag liner. And each piece of that allows you to backpack up to certain temperatures, so you stay nice and warm. It allows you to stay comfortable, and then it comes in at a certain weight. So when I think about bundling, I now think of this opportunity to allow us to better tell the sleep system stories and kind of tell that brand story in that in that way. So that's something I'm really excited for this year.

Samir Balwani 8:00

Yeah, that's super interesting. I think bundling is a unique opportunity also when you have a lot of inventory that you're trying to move. And so you can use bundling to kind of sneak some inventory out the door. Also, the do more with less is definitely the theme of 24. It's been pretty consistent across the board. And from our perspective, I think a lot of people will start to focus in on kind of the 8020 rule, right? Focusing in on your top 20% of activities of customers of products and just trying to maximize that to the best of our ability. How are you guys looking at that? How are you actually identifying the things that you want to double down on that you think, Hey, this is actually really valuable to us. And we want to make sure we do this? How do you balance that without losing the innovation and experimental elements of what you need to do. Because as you know, marketing is constantly changing. You don't want to be left behind.

Amanda Schreier 9:03

It really comes down to what your strategic vision is for each year. And keeping that narrow and specific. I know that marketing is constantly changing, and you need to adopt and evolve. But for example, our three pillars for our strategy this year acquisition, retention, and sleep system bundling concept. And so with that each of my team members have a series of goals that are very specifically aligned to those and each of those pillars have more specific definitions, because obviously a lot of things fall within that acquisition. And one of the things we have to hold ourselves accountable to is there's 1,000,001 ideas. There's something that we could try every week. But if it doesn't align with the goal that we set at the beginning of the year, and where we're trying to accomplish at the end of the year, then it's something that's kind of tabled. I No, that's quite a narrow view. And you do have to assess and you do have to pivot if things aren't working, and you have to call it quits pretty quickly, because we don't know all the answers. And so to build those kind of stop gaps in, we're talking about our strategic direction and our goals weekly. So we can pivot and we can't reassess. But we always go back to that, especially when they kind of go down the rabbit hole of all of these, you know, ideas?

Samir Balwani 10:26

Yeah, yeah, it's really easy to end up just trying a lot of things and not really understanding what actually worked, or really burning a lot of money in the process of I think, people forget how much it costs to do something to your point, like, personalization seems really easy. It's like, oh, yeah, let's segment out, you know, 10 different segments, like, oh, wait, I need 10 different emails. Now I need 10 different calendars, I need 10 different ad creatives, because you probably want it all to tick and tie across the the journey. So yeah, I think resource allocation and resource management is something that people forget, especially after like a year, like now. Amazing. Are there any other challenges that you're really thinking about? Or? You know, looking ahead in the year?

Amanda Schreier 11:17

Yeah, it's the second half of the year. Yeah, specifically, the November time period seems very stressful. And, you know, outdoor hard goods is pretty seasonal business. We don't have strong product that, you know, our product can be used year round, you should always be shopping Sita summit, but realistically, it's the summer. So I have all of us focused on the first half of the year. How big can we go? How much can we grow? Because the second half, we don't know what the pulses going to be in the US. We don't know what ad space is going to look like, as you've as you've taught me, we don't know how much it's gonna cost. Yeah. So yeah, I think for right now, 2020. Wait, wait for in my mind is only six months long as it's even up? Yeah, you

Samir Balwani 12:09

alluded to it. But I agree. I think Summer Olympics and election year are definitely going to throw us for a loop in the second half of the year. And it's there is there's an add cost to it. For sure. I think. I mean, every election year, it's like, we broke budget. And it's the most they've ever spent no, like, yeah, that's how it works. Every four years, you spend more than the last four years, you will constantly be breaking the budget, like it's not, like different. But then there's also just like this attention element to it, too. It's really hard to break through when everyone's overloaded with everything else that's going on. And so I, I think, as we look at the end of the year, creative also starts to become even more important, I think, leaning on media partners like us to make sure that you guys are in the most cost effective places. You know, I don't want to spend a ton of money in Florida or any of the other battleground states where it's going to be super expensive. But then also in the in the places where we are how do we make sure that we are using the right creative that breaks through and actually makes people feel better? Because I think bigger didn't need it.

Amanda Schreier 13:22

It's kind of recognizing how are people going to exert themselves outside of that space? Like what are they going to turn to? And can you be that person or product that they turn to that's honestly something that the outdoor experience during COVID was in a one, if you take away everything else you can do outside is a good alternative? And so how can you be there for that person? And again, we're still fighting for more people to get outside. So that's that's also a good thing.

Samir Balwani 13:51

Yeah, yeah, I love it. So as we look ahead, what are you most excited about for 2024? I know, we talked about a lot of the challenges and then things are gonna be pretty difficult. But what were you looking at, either in your strategy or just in the industry as a whole and going, Oh, that that's a bright light that I'm I'm looking forward to?

Amanda Schreier 14:13

Yeah, I think one of the spaces that Sita someone's entering is we are a global business. We're distributed in over 30 countries, but we're not a global ecommerce business. And we saw, we sell in a few markets, but the like I mentioned earlier, over the next three years, we're going to be starting going up to you know, 12 to 15 markets. So 2004 is our kickoff for launching Canada. We're currently selling in Germany and Austria, but we're going to move it to the Nordics and then Belgium Luxembourg Netherlands region, so we have a whole EU expansion plan. Even in Australia. We're going to be looking at new markets out that way. However, many countries are close to Australia but Yeah, so it's something that's really been made possible by the innovations on Shopify. So Cetus Ma is a Shopify customer. And a couple years ago, they launched Shopify markets. And Shopify markets has basically made it a three turn key for us to sell in multiple markets at the right price with the right products, localized to an extent, offer multiple languages. And so because of that, we can now start scaling and launching more markets with a pretty small team. So that's something I'm excited for little nervous, you know, launching also, you know, with the new market comes multiple new languages. But yeah, it's just it's, it's a big a big achievement that we're striving for, for Sea to Summit. That's

Samir Balwani 15:49

awesome. Yeah. new markets, new languages, new rules and regulations. I agree, I think Shopify has been a game changer for e-comm as a whole, and has made e global just so much easier. I can't imagine. I mean, global plus, even us just knowing, like tax law by state to just be able to manage that through Shopify makes life so much easier. So that that is really exciting. Yeah. When you're looking at global, you said that you're thinking about it over a three year period. How are you identifying which markets to start with, and then kind of where to go next.

Amanda Schreier 16:35

It's, it's more based on our own relationships. So we have an a distributor network set up in Europe. And so with the launch of E commerce, we'll keep that ownership centralized, but then still be in partnerships with distributors. So it's really it's, yes, it's prioritizing larger markets, but it's also recognizing relationships, and also appropriate timelines for a big change for a distributor. So it's, it's yeah, kind of a balance of external inter internal analysis.

Samir Balwani 17:07

I love that. Because I think that that is a viewpoint that a lot of people don't realize or understand is just the intricacies of moving into a bubble. Business isn't always as easy as just turning on a global website, because like, I know, shop, wherever you want to shop, the relationships and the logistics of it are bigger and deeper than people really understand. That's awesome. I'm excited to see see to summit everywhere. I love talking to people and hearing about how they're excited about the brand. So my last question for you is, what? What advice would you give a new marketing leader or marketing director, as they look at, you know, being in their role for the first time trying to build an e-comm team trying to grow an e-comm business? What should they do?

Amanda Schreier 17:59

It comes down to strategy. So do less, to pick identify your one to three things you want to do, and what are the supporting things you need to achieve? To do that. I think when you're launching an E commerce business, just get it up. And then from there, then you focus on growth. So then you probably move on to acquisition. Retention is a tough one, because you always want to focus on it. But you also want to have a large enough customer base for that to warrant your focus. And then I think as you continue to grow, and as you accomplish that, I think one of the things that attracts people to ecommerce and marketing is you need a growth mindset. So you always need to be learning and challenging yourself. Never assume you know it all. And be always curious. So you can learn something from anyone. And you can also challenge your own assumptions by continuously seeking out new information. And so I think having a very strong strategy that's specific, and not too much, and a system in place to hold people accountable to that strategy is step one. And then as you continue to grow to fuel what that strategy becomes, you need that growth mindset.

Samir Balwani 19:16

I love that you call that the growth mindset. I think that that's key for a good marketer for sure. Thank you so much for joining us today. Amanda. If someone wants to find you online, where can people learn more about you? Yeah,

Amanda Schreier 19:27

I would start with LinkedIn. Amanda Schreier. And if you need any outdoor hard goods or advice on that space, reach out to Sea to Summit where we look big, but we're only in North America about 50 person company. So we all talk to each other.

Samir Balwani 19:42

I love it. I love it. Thank you again, so much for joining us. So glad we could be here.

Amanda Schreier 19:46

Yeah, of course. Thank you for having me.

Outro 19:56

Thanks for joining us. If you liked it, remember to subscribe. So you'll be notified of new episodes, and if you know someone who would enjoy the show, don't forget to share and leave a review. It all helps us impact more brands. If you're looking to improve your paid media, go to and schedule a consultation. We're always happy to chat. See you for the next one.

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