Interview with Robbert Huisman
Robbert Huisman, Head of Category Management Catawiki.
Robbert Huisman joined Catawiki in 2017 as the Head of Category Management. He has a background as an Aerospace Engineer from Delft University, Engagement Manager at Strategy&, member of the Extended Leadership Team at Booking.com and as a serial entrepreneur.
Just as the differences between jewelry and classic cars are vast, so too is the way each category is managed. Robbert Huisman, Head of Category Management: “It’s almost as if we’re running 25 separate shops at Catawiki. Each category is unique because of its own market dynamics.” That means Category Manager is a highly influential role within Catawiki, combining vision, strategy, leadership and P&L responsibility.
Strategy & impact
Together with the Head of Category Management, Category Managers create a strong value proposition for their category, clearing the way for Catawiki to become a serious player in the mid-market and upper segment. They have a holistic view on the end-to-end customer journey and work with Product, Sales, Marketing, Customer Support and Fulfillment to optimize conversion along the funnel. Based on deep insights in their category and the market conditions, they develop the quarterly auction planning & forecasting and define KPIs related to productivity, quality & profitability and customer experience. They report directly to the Head of Category Management.
Each Category Manager is in charge of a team of 15 to 25 specialist auctioneers, based in different locations, to help them build and maintain the network of suppliers around the world. The goal is to make the team of remotely located auctioneers work in the most efficient, scalable and consistent way possible. The Category Manager is responsible for the curation quality and ensures consistency across teams through quality reviews, calibrations and sharing the ‘voice of the customer’. A clear vision and strong leadership skills are essential.
Cherry picking strategy
“Personally, I have been more successful as a buyer than as a seller on Catawiki,” says Robbert Huisman, Head of Category Management at Catawiki. “Everything I’ve tried to put up for auction has been rejected so far. But that’s a good thing – our curators need to be very picky. That’s the whole point of our vision and strategy. We’re a platform where you can find the truly rare and unique collector’s items. And we can only offer our buyers that experience, if we sift through all of the lots people would like to sell – without discouraging sellers altogether. It’s a combination of cherry picking and the art of saying no.“
The one that got away
“As a buyer, I’m especially interested in photography. One of my favorite photographers is Slim Aarons, who used to shoot jet-set Americans in the seventies. There’s this one photograph on my watch list, ‘Poolside in Sotogrande’. I almost had it a few years ago, but another bidder sniped it last minute. I won’t let that happen again!”