PROFILE

Dick Seesel

Principal, Retailing In Focus LLC

Retailing In Focus, LLC. is an independent consulting firm founded in 2006 by Richard Seesel. Its goal is to provide marketing-based, pragmatic strategies for retail and supplier clients interested in driving more profitable sales.

Dick Seesel was most recently a Senior Vice President and Divisional Merchandise Manager at Kohl’s Department Stores. During his 24 years at Kohl’s, Dick managed the Women’s Accessory, Jewelry, Cosmetics and Intimate Apparel businesses. Prior to Kohl’s, Dick worked at Dayton’s Department Stores (Minneapolis, MN) and for his family’s retail business.

Dick’s education includes an undergraduate degree from Harvard College (AB 1976, magna cum laude) and a Master’s degree from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University (MM 1978, marketing major). During his years at Kohl’s, Dick enjoyed “continuing education” through several management training courses, with an emphasis on retail negotiation.

As a lifelong “student of retail,” Dick enjoys passing along his knowledge and experience. He was certified to conduct negotiation classes to incoming associates at Kohl’s. Recently he has spoken to business students at the Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania) and at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He has led a class in Retailing Management at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for the past several years.

Dick is proud to have helped Kohl’s grow from 18 stores to a national retail powerhouse, during an era of change and consolidation throughout the retail industry. He is also proud of his reputation for integrity, fairness, “win-win” negotiation style and getting results. Dick also serves as a consultant with McMillan Doolittle Consulting and as a partner with Roulston Research.

Dick, his wife and children have lived in the Milwaukee area since 1982. He is an active volunteer at the University School of Milwaukee (where he is a Trustee), and has also volunteered his time to College Possible, Congregation Sinai, the Harvard Club of Wisconsin and other local organizations. In his spare time, Dick is passionate about movies, baseball, travel and – yes – shopping.

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  • Posted on: 06/22/2021

    What does it take for stores to satisfy their pickiest customers?

    Which kind of "picky" customer are we talking about? The so-called "platinum" customer who demands attention but drives the most profit because of loyalty to a store and less focus on price? This shopper demands (and probably deserves) the highest level of personalized customer service, and the deepest understanding of his/her product preferences. The other kind of "picky" customer is the one who simply craves attention without an intent to buy. This shopper can hamper productivity, based on the time spent by sales associates without a profitable outcome. It's tough for retailers to concede, but some customers might be more trouble than they're worth.
  • Posted on: 06/21/2021

    Can Victoria’s Secret shift its brand image from sexy to empowering?

    Victoria's Secret was guilty of objectifying its own target customers, and did not offer enough assortment outside of the "glamour and sex appeal" that made it famous. (Note: I merchandised this category, among others, while at Kohl's.) Through its marketing and product development, VS created a big hole that its competitors drove through, whether they are pushing fit for all body types, comfort, athletic-inspired or some other attribute. The new faces of Victoria's Secret are a first step as far as marketing is concerned, but the proof is in the merchandise content and the store experience. Will the product, store design and (yes) hiring of associates still try to push the "glamour and sex appeal" button, or will VS present a more inclusive experience reflective of its new spokespeople?
  • Posted on: 06/18/2021

    Will ‘less is more’ or ‘more is better’ online merchandising drive bigger sales?

    Great point about the ability to narrow one's search online. And great alliteration! ("Promiscuous proliferation of products"...)
  • Posted on: 06/18/2021

    Will ‘less is more’ or ‘more is better’ online merchandising drive bigger sales?

    As a former merchant who spent his career in a brick-and-mortar environment, I believe that narrower assortments are generally good for business. The customer in the visual setting of a retail store needs to see fewer choices in order to make the selection easier. You can make the same argument about e-commerce, although some retailers (most obviously Amazon) have been rewarded for offering huge variety and executing on that brand promise. But for the most part, it's not worth the risk of shopper fatigue through poor navigation, overassortment or bad inventory management.
  • Posted on: 06/16/2021

    Will Target hit the bullseye or miss with its store remodeling plan?

    Store design is at the heart of Target's brand message. It has always been known for clean, bright, well-organized stores as long as I can remember. Design enhancements like the Ulta and Apple shops make Target a more interesting place to shop (not just a big red-and-white box), but the company is smart to learn from its deliberately paced rollout of these changes.
  • Posted on: 06/16/2021

    How will companies manage a staff of vaccinated and unvaccinated workers?

    Sorry, Ken, but Dr. Kory has been pushing unproven "treatments" such as ivermectin, alongside my senator (Ron Johnson) who has been one of the biggest sources of disinformation about COVID imaginable.
  • Posted on: 06/15/2021

    How will companies manage a staff of vaccinated and unvaccinated workers?

    Ken, what are those unequivocal and reliable sources you refer to? As to "citizens' rights," there are two sides to that coin. A citizen has the right not to be vaccinated (although we don't extend that right to school-age children as a rule), but another citizen has the right to a safe workplace.
  • Posted on: 06/15/2021

    How will companies manage a staff of vaccinated and unvaccinated workers?

    Thinking in particular about corporate offices and warehouses, employees will be working at close quarter again barring a total re-engineering of their workspace. Companies managing these teams of workers are within their rights to require proof of vaccination to return to the workplace. Workers who don't comply are also free to make that health choice, but that doesn't entitle them to a job with an employer with a vaccine mandate. Behavior has consequences, as if we didn't all learn that painful lesson over the past 16 months.
  • Posted on: 06/11/2021

    What distinguished e-commerce winners and losers during the pandemic?

    On top of the other factors discussed here, the ability to execute curbside pickup or home delivery was a huge factor. Nimble inventory management of certain high-demand products was essential, but the "last mile" to the customer's car trunk or front door really separated the winners from the losers.
  • Posted on: 06/10/2021

    Will retail achieve double-digit sales growth this year?

    The "comps" from 2020 are so bad that double-digit growth in 2021 is achievable. By the time the year is over, 2019 becomes the more relevant comparison. Inside that surge in demand, there are going to be wild variations depending on what sold or didn't sell during the pandemic year. There will be less stocking up on food, commodities and cleaning supplies (at least let's hope so) but big surges in demand for discretionary goods like apparel. There is also big reported growth in personal care products -- everything from cosmetics to teeth whiteners to mouthwash -- as we all emerge from isolation.
  • Posted on: 06/09/2021

    Did the pandemic fundamentally shift retailer/vendor relationships?

    The cliched concept of "win/win" was put to the test during the pandemic. The issue of cash flow is a two-way street, and chances are good that Macy's is putting the squeeze on smaller vendors who can least afford it. To Bob Phibbs's point about supply issues, the retailers who cultivated relationships in 2020 are probably sitting on adequate quantities of product today as demand takes off.
  • Posted on: 06/03/2021

    Have flagships become obsolete?

    As travel and tourism return, the interest in experiential retail will come back. While giant flagships in central cities may never carry the same cachet -- especially if nearby offices remain half-empty -- they still serve a purpose in defining a brand. The model isn't sustainable for every retailer, but the "buzz factor" still makes sense for many brands.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2021

    Should Amazon or rivals be more wary if it opens brick and mortar pharmacies?

    That was my take too. Walgreens has a "location saturation" strategy that is a key competitive advantage, even with the general migration to e-commerce. Sometimes you need that prescription filled immediately, or need to see somebody in a walk-in clinic at once. And sometimes you need the benefit of a neighborhood "convenience store," which is the other side of Walgreens' business. Adding pharmacies to Whole Foods would be a convenience to its loyal customers, but would not be the answer to long-term success.
  • Posted on: 05/26/2021

    Do micro distribution points (AKA stores) give Petco an edge over Chewy and Amazon?

    I think PetSmart and Petco have roughly the same number of physical stores so I'm not sure one has the advantage over the other. But until PetSmart decided to spin off Chewy (if that deal is completed yet), it had an obvious competitive advantage as a full-blown omnichannel retailer. PetSmart still has the same ship-from-store capacity as Petco, so the competition between the two is far from settled.
  • Posted on: 05/25/2021

    Is Foot Locker throwing in the towel on key consumers by closing Footaction?

    I agree that localization of the "umbrella" brand is more important than trying to sustain multiple overlapping nameplates.

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