By Patrick Avenell

James Fleet has returned to Appliances Online after a three year absence to become its new chief marketing officer. Appliances Online is owned by The Winning Group, which also operates Winning Appliances, BigBrownBox and The Handy Crew.

Fleet has previously worked in various online and marketing roles at Tribal DDB, Westpac New Zealand and TMP World Worldwide, in addition to his previous stint as marketing manager for Appliances Online in 2009.

"As we operate in a highly competitive industry, it's essential we stay top-of-mind for Australians and continue to demonstrate our exceptional customer service as a key differentiator,” said Winning Group CEO John Winning. “James’ knowledge and experience with marketing technology will prove vital in ensuring that Appliances Online strengthens its national brand awareness and continues to achieve solid growth.”

Listing his strengths as “management, performance marketing, social media and web analytics”, Fleet’s mantra is that whether online or in-store, people buy from people, not websites.

“I live and breathe retail e-commerce strategy driven by a baseline of smart performance marketing,” he said.

“With over 10 years experience, I have worked with leading Australasian companies in key verticals such as travel, finance, appliances and electronics. In all roles my success has been measured by bottom line growth.”

Fleet has a personal website called Half-Geek that offers expert advice on how to best use internet tools to grow your business. This site has not been updated since November 2011.

Back in 2009, when he was the marketing manager of Appliances Online, he made the following prescient post:

“I believe the worst is yet to come and I think 2009 is going to be a year of despair for many Australian businesses,” Fleet wrote. “I think what we have seen to date is nowhere near the worst of it and people who say otherwise are only avoiding the truth, 2009 will be a great test for many.

“I believe there is a major opportunity ahead for online business in Australia, and I predict the online shopping market will continue to hold strong in 2009 and into 2010, as many other big Australian retailers such as Harvey Norman continue to struggle.”

Editor’s Note: several of the direct quotes in this story have been edited for readability.

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