October 31, 2011, 4:19 PM

E-commerce CEOs enjoy a 27% compensation jump in 2010

An Internet Retailer review of pay packages finds strong growth for top online jobs.

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No executive even comes close to Mindy Grossman this year when measuring the compensation packages awarded by the leading publicly traded online retailers. The CEO of TV and web merchant  HSN Inc. earned $12.1 million in 2010, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing, an increase of nearly 200% from 2009. She can give much of her thanks to the almost $8.7 million in stock and option compensation granted by her employer.

The economy may continue to sputter for most consumers, but for some of the country’s top e-commerce leaders—who are, after all, drawing more retail dollars away from stores—a recovery appears well along. The highest levels of e-commerce management enjoyed double-digit compensation gains in 2010, thanks in large part to the increasing value of stock awards and what some experts call more competition for the top talents in online retail.

“There’s been a lot of movement at the executive level among large, publicly traded retailers,” says Wendy Weber, president of executive recruitment firm Crandall Associates Inc. “Salaries are dramatically escalating at the C-level and senior vice president level.”

Internet Retailer measured compensation by analyzing the most recent proxy statements for 23 large publically traded e-retailers.  Total compensation for the 97 executives included in this year’s review averaged almost $1.69 million, up 38.5% from $1.22 million in the previous year, according to the most recent proxy statements. Base pay averaged $401,181, up from $371,661 for last year’s review.

The average total pay package for the most senior executives—that is, positions with president, CEO and chairman in the official job title—stood at $2.16 million for 2010, up 22% from $1.77 million the previous year.  For CEOs only, the average pay package for 2010 was $2.52 million, up 27% from $1.98 million the previous year, according to this year’s proxy statements. The average base pay was $529,892.

Looking toward 2012, professionals with e-commerce experience face good odds that the pay packages will continue to prove lucrative. Several large retailers—the most recent examples include Staples Inc. and Best Buy Co.—have announced plans to hire hundreds of e-commerce workers.

“We were just contacted by a new client, a major retailer who intends to hire for 30 positions, for everything from director of digital marketing, mobile manager, mobile e-mail manager, web designer, social marketing coordinator, web merchant, senior developer, copywriter and designer,” says Weber.  “And the retailer would like them on board by the end of fourth quarter.”

For a full report on e-commerce executive pay trends, read the forthcoming November issue of Internet Retailer magazine.

HSN is No. 26 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. Staples is No. 2 and Best Buy is No. 11.

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