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: 08/14/2018

    Aldi shoppers are getting curbside pickup, but do they want it?


    Curbside pickup (for the customers who want it) is no longer a "fancy amenity" but an expectation. If Aldi expects to be competitive with other food discounters like Walmart (and not just on price), it needs to offer more than a bare bones experience. This is more true than ever as Aldi moves into more upscale suburban areas. It will be worth paying attention to, to see if Aldi can maintain its pricing edge while dealing with another "cost of entry."
  • Posted on: 08/13/2018

    J.C. Penney goes after Babies ‘R’ Us customers with new shops

    While I don't agree with Mr. Starke's assessment about the competition (has he been to a Target store recently?), I do agree that it's a smart move by J.C. Penney. A deeper dive into the "baby business" is frankly a better strategic fit for J.C. Penney than its expansion into major appliances -- better margins, more frequency of store visits and a way to target the younger consumer who might not be attracted to the apparel assortment. My biggest question: Where is the space coming from, given the square footage already reallocated to appliances and a bigger furniture department?
  • Posted on: 08/08/2018

    Can retail compete for computer science graduates?

    Retailers are competing for tech talent -- not only against each other, but against the entire universe of companies and industries looking for data scientists, programmers and so forth. And keep in mind that Amazon's search for HQ2 is going to suck a lot of oxygen out of the room. It's not enough to pay competitively (something retailers aren't known for) or to argue that Silicon Valley is unaffordable compared to cities like Minneapolis or Bentonville. It's more important to make the case that "traditional" omnichannel retail is an industry with a future. Too many retailers have reactive hiring practices based on the economic cycle rather than a sustainable approach to their technology spending needs.
  • Posted on: 08/06/2018

    Kroger takes on Visa

    I know the figure of $90 billion in swipe fees came from the Bloomberg article, but is that number possible for a company with about $125 billion in annual sales?
  • Posted on: 08/06/2018

    Kroger takes on Visa

    I agree with Neil that this looks like the first warning shot in a negotiation for lower fees. Otherwise, if Kroger sticks to its guns, it's a loss for both companies. I shop at one of the Kroger brands acquired from Roundy's and I only carry Visa cards (including the one linked to Apple Pay). It's simple: If Kroger drops Visa, I drop Kroger and I'll have plenty of company.
  • Posted on: 08/03/2018

    Is Target making the right move in dumping C9 Champion?

    It’s hard to know whether the C9 decision was based on maturing product — which can often be overcome with new product development — or more likely a disagreement on sales and margin goals. Whatever the reason, this feels like a losing proposition for both sides.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2018

    Who in retailing’s c-suites should drive customer experience?

    This would have been a simple question in the past: In my view, the executive running the stores is in charge of the most customer-forward part of the business. Omnichannel has changed the landscape to a degree, but keep in mind that most retailers still do most of their business in physical locations. The “customer experience” is defined by what happens inside those four walls, not inside the marketing C-suite.
  • Posted on: 07/31/2018

    Can Tesco beat Aldi and Lidl at their own game?

    Tesco appears to be caught between its traditional competitors (who are merging to achieve economies of scale) and the deeply entrenched "value" grocers like Lidl and Aldi. And the "hypermarket" factor can't be ignored, either. Given Tesco's size, there is nothing wrong with testing a new discount concept -- but there's no guarantee of success in an increasingly crowded space.
  • Posted on: 07/30/2018

    Retail’s new cobbling economy

    Part-time retail workers have been "cobbling" for as long as I can remember, for a variety of reasons. It may be to supplement the household income, or to work part-time through college, or for the employee discount. Everybody knows somebody (in my case, a friend in a doctor's office) who works 30 hours at a "full-time" job and another 20 hours at the local department store. But Carol pinpoints something important by describing this as "cobbling." It's becoming an economic necessity for many, not just a matter of earning some discretionary income.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2018

    Having little luck with Millennials, J.C. Penney refocuses on middle-age women

    J.C. Penney has presented its investors (and consumers) with a false choice over the past several years, even predating the Ron Johnson era. Either "cater to our current core market of aging Baby Boomers" or "figure out how to attract Millennials." Any store expecting to be sustainable in the long run needs to figure out how to do both. It's possible to carry robust assortments of both Liz Claiborne and brands targeted to younger shoppers, especially in women's apparel. Without those younger consumers with increasing spending power to accompany their sheer numbers, the "old" J.C. Penney base will continue to shrink. It will become clear that Marvin Ellison made a mistake shrinking the footprint of Penney's "softlines" businesses in order to squeeze in major appliances and more furniture. In hindsight, J.C. Penney could have used this space to offer broader and deeper assortments of apparel and accessories targeted to both Millennials and their moms.
  • Posted on: 07/25/2018

    Lululemon goes shopping and finds its new CEO at Sephora

    No retailer or brand, no matter how healthy, is beyond improvement and it appears that Mr. McDonald will bring some key strengths to the table. But it's important for an outsider CEO to acculturate himself to the company and its people; Lululemon is in a position of strength that gives Mr. McDonald the luxury of time.
  • Posted on: 07/23/2018

    Retailers use brand ads to help pay for free delivery

    This sounds like a creative way for retailers (not just Amazon) to share the high costs associated with shipping and home delivery, even though the brand shown on a package may have nothing to do with what's inside. Think of it as another form of co-op advertising -- not all that different from charging brands for exposure in store circulars even if they are not covering the total cost involved.
  • Posted on: 07/19/2018

    Seven ways Gen Z is different that don’t include tech

    I'm not convinced that Gen Z shoppers are any more or less bargain-conscious than their older siblings, parents or grandparents. It's the world we have lived in for a long time -- not just post-recession or with the advent of m-commerce. It's not by accident that Target, Walmart, Kmart, Kohl's and others opened their doors in 1962 because it signaled a "search for value" that hasn't let up. I'm more focused on the two items on the list that will affect stores' real estate strategies for years to come. If Gen Z shoppers are both mall-agnostic and commute-averse, this will benefit neighborhood retailers -- or at least those retailers willing to rethink their traditional approaches to site selection. And of course, it benefits e-commerce retailers like Amazon who bring a different meaning to "localization."
  • Posted on: 07/17/2018

    Abercrombie & Fitch brings pop-ups and more to hotels

    My biggest question is about A&F's current target market, and how it aligns with the sbe customer. It's possible that shoppers in their late 20s and early 30s (a key demographic for sbe hotels) used to be A&F shoppers in its heyday 10 or 15 years ago. But are they still shopping there? Unless A&F is in the middle of a giant course correction and no longer interested in the junior and young men's markets, this seems like a mismatch -- unlike some of the other cross-promotions going on between retailers and hoteliers right now.
  • Posted on: 07/16/2018

    Target offers discounts as teachers prep for back-to-school

    Targeting schoolteachers, not just parents and children, during BTS shopping season is a smart idea for any retailer. It's been well documented that thousands of teachers spend money out of their own pockets for school supplies if their school system budgets don't cover the costs. (And teachers aren't especially well paid to begin with.) While Target often has one eye on the PR benefit of their decisions, this one should ring the register too.

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