August 4, 2011, 3:57 PM

ShopRunner ups the ante with its hiring of former GSI executive Fiona Dias

The e-commerce vet will help the shipping and loyalty service take closer aim at Amazon.

Lead Photo

Fiona Dias

ShopRunner Inc., a fledgling company designed to help retailers compete against Amazon.com Inc. with free shipping, has named e-commerce veteran Fiona Dias as chief strategy officer, a newly created position. Dias, a former senior executive at GSI Commerce Corp. and Circuit City Stores Inc., will use her retail industry experience and connections to help ShopRunner build out its fulfillment and marketing services, and attract more retailers as clients.

In accepting the position, Dias is quickly reuniting with former colleagues. Dias was at GSI in 2010 when the e-commerce technology and service provider created ShopRunner as a free shipping program retailers could offer to compete with Amazon.com Inc.’s successful Prime program. After eBay Inc. completed its acquisition of GSI in June, Dias left GSI. As part of its acquisition of GSI, eBay relinquished 70% of its ownership stake in ShopRunner, but retains 30% of the equity in the company.

Dias says she expects to help ShopRunner attract more retailer clients eager to better compete against Amazon, whose web sales increased 51% year over year in the second quarter. Amazon is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide and operates the Amazon Prime shipping program that provides free two-day shipping to consumers for a $79 annual fee. “Retailers by nature don’t like to cooperate with each other, but as a result many aren’t selling as much as they could online,” Dias says.

ShopRunner’s primary offering enables retailers to offer two-day shipping for a full year at an annual fee to consumers of $79, with no minimum order size, similar to Amazon Prime; ShopRunner recently began offering the program for $8.95 per month for consumers.

Dias joins ShopRunner as it expands it services. ShopRunner provides a web portal at ShopRunner.com, where consumers can find product offers along with free shipping from participating retailers. ShopRunner recently launched mobile apps for the iPhone and iPad that let shoppers scan products in stores to see if they can buy something similar online from a ShopRunner client retailer and get free shipping. In addition, ShopRunner has launched a “Buy Now” widget that that lets consumers store payment and shipping information for repeated use.

ShopRunner president Mike Golden envisions the company as not only a shipping provider, but as a loyalty and marketing program that helps retailers gain repeat purchases. He says Dias has valuable experience in both marketing and fulfillment. “She brings a wealth of e-commerce and retail expertise, and her addition to our team is a significant milestone for ShopRunner,” Golden says.

Dias most recently worked as executive vice president of strategy and marketing for GSI Commerce, which she joined in March 2007. She helped match GSI’s wide range of e-commerce, marketing and other services to the needs of GSI’s more than 200 client retailers, including Toys ‘R’ Us, Dick’s Sporting Goods, PetSmart and RadioShack. Toys ‘R’ Us is No. 29 in the Top 500 Guide; Dick’s is 126; PetSmart 294 and RadioShack 254.

When GSI launched ShopRunner last year, Dias helped to develop its services and attract clients. ShopRunner has 44 retailers using its services; about 50 more are preparing to go live with ShopRunner later this year. ShopRunner operates as an independent company following eBay Inc.’s acquisition of GSI in June.

Dias says ShopRunner will continue to find ways to help retailers provide better services to consumers. She says one possibility is to offer a third level of the free-shipping program in addition to the monthly and standard annual membership, such as a premium service with special loyalty benefits.

Before joining GSI, Dias was president of Circuit City Direct, the online retailing arm of Circuit City Stores, and chief marketing officer for the entire company. While running CircuitCity.com, Dias directed the launch of one of the retail industry’s first programs that enabled consumers to order online and pick up products in stores; under her watch, the e-commerce site achieved $1.5 billion in annual sales before she left in 2006. Circuit City Stores eventually ceased operations, with its online assets sold in May 2009 to Systemax Inc.

Prior to Circuit City, Dias held senior management positions in marketing, brand management and corporate development with Frito-Lay Co. (a division of Pepsico), Pennzoil Quaker State Co. and Procter & Gamble Inc.

Dias also serves on the boards of Advance Auto Parts Inc. and Choice Hotels.

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