PROFILE

Steve Dennis

President, Sageberry Consulting/Senior Forbes Contributor

Steve Dennis is a strategic growth advisor, international keynote speaker and writer on retail innovation and the future of shopping. He was recently named a top 5 global retail influencer by two leading organizations and is a Forbes senior contributor.

His first book — “Remarkable Retail: How to Win and Keep Customers in the Age of Amazon & Digital Disruption” —will be published in April 2020.

During a more than 30 year career as a senior executive at two Fortune 500 retailers and as a strategy consultant, Steve has worked with dozens of retail, luxury and social impact brands to inspire, catalyze and design their journey from boring to remarkable.

Steve has delivered keynote talks and led growth & innovation workshops on six continents. His industry and consumer insights are regularly featured in the media including Bloomberg/Business Week, CNBC, CNN, Fortune, the Harvard Business Review, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal, among many others.

Steve is the President of SageBerry Consulting. Prior to founding SageBerry, Steve was the chief strategy officer and SVP, multichannel marketing for the Neiman Marcus Group. Earlier in his career he held senior leadership roles at Sears, including VP, multichannel integration and VP/General Manager of a $600MM operating division. He also serves on several advisory boards.

Steve is the President of SageBerry Consulting. Prior to founding SageBerry, Steve was the chief strategy officer and SVP, multichannel marketing for the Neiman Marcus Group. Earlier in his career he held senior leadership roles at Sears, including VP, multichannel integration and VP/General Manager of a $600MM operating division. He also serves on several advisory boards.

Steve received his MBA from Harvard and a BA from Tufts University.

Steve Dennis is a strategic advisor, keynote speaker and writer on retail innovation and the future of shopping. He has been named a top global retail influencer by multiple organizations and is a Forbes Senior Contributor. His new book--"Remarkable Retail: How to Win and Keep Customers in the Age of Amazon & Digital Disruption"--is available for pre-order at major online book retailers. During a more than 30 year career as a senior executive at two Fortune 500 retailers and as a strategy consultant, Steve has worked with dozens of retail, luxury and social impact brands to inspire, catalyze and design their journey from boring to remarkable. Steve has delivered keynote talks and led growth & innovation workshops on six continents. His industry and consumer insights are regularly featured in the media including Bloomberg/Business Week, CNBC, CNN, Fortune, the Harvard Business Review, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal, among many others. Steve is the President of SageBerry Consulting. Prior to founding SageBerry, Steve was the chief strategy officer and SVP, multichannel marketing for the Neiman Marcus Group. Steve received his MBA from Harvard and a BA from Tufts University.
  • VIEW ARTICLES
  • VIEW COMMENTS
  • Posted on: 01/20/2022

    NRF 2022: Nordstrom finds freedom in alternative wholesale pacts

    When consumers can get just about anything they want from just about anywhere they want just about anytime they want, it is paramount for multi-line retailers to offer products with exclusive (or near exclusive) products. Done with care, these partnerships can be a definite win/win. The retailer has another hook to win, grow and keep customers. The DTC brand gets greater awareness and the opportunity to acquire customers inexpensively.
  • Posted on: 01/19/2022

    Are retailers’ returns concerns coming to a holiday head?

    Returns and product exchanges have been a costly problem forever, but three things have raised the criticality of taming this beast. First, online return rates are generally in the 20 percent to 40 percent range, while in-store rates are typically well under 10 percent. As online sales penetration goes up, the overall profit hit to a retailer's P&L increases. Second, while some progress has been made at addressing some of the root causes of returns, the widespread adoption of free returns & exchanges over the years provides an on-going headwind, leading to the common practice of "bracketing," where the customer buys, say, three of the same item in different sizes, with plans to return the two that don't fit. Third, with escalating fulfillment costs (largely owing to postage costs but more recently escalating labor rates), the cost per return is steadily increasing. All this back and forth shipping and the associated packaging materials is also terrible for the environment. Retailers can continue to deploy new technologies aimed at root causes like helping the customer buy the right item and more intelligent handling of reverse flow logistics. But until the cost of wasteful spending is put back upon the consumer I'm not that optimistic about major progress.
  • Posted on: 01/13/2022

    Can Penney’s new leadership (finally) transform the business?

    Having worked there during the '90s, I feel I speak with a fair amount of experience.
  • Posted on: 01/13/2022

    Can Penney’s new leadership (finally) transform the business?

    Now that Sears is, for all intents and purposes, gone, J.C. Penney is the poster child for the "collapse of the middle" that has been unfolding for the past 20 years. Trying to be a little bit of everything to a little bit of everybody with a concentration in a format that continues to contract is a losing strategy. Everything they have done (or can do) is merely kicking the can down the road. I will assume the leaders that have joined are absolutely top-notch, but the train left the station on a possible transformation many years ago. There is not enough money, nor talent, nor, most importantly, time to turn this most unremarkable retailer around. Dead brand walking.
  • Posted on: 12/22/2021

    Do Americans now prefer strip center shopping?

    One of the biggest outcomes of digital disruption has been the many aspects of bifurcation that have emerged, chief among them being the collapse of the middle and the distinction between buying vs. shopping or, stated differently, running errands vs. seeking out experiences. Regional mass used to serve both of these masters because it was both efficient and effective to make the journey for both the tasks we need to get off our to-do lists AND meeting our broader emotional needs and wants. But the rise of category killers and discount merchants decades ago and off-price and online retail more recently, has taken away many of the reasons to go to the traditional mall. So it's not so much a simple statement of what Americans prefer, it's a shift to the hegemony of neighborhoods and power centers (and e-commerce) for buying and destination retail for shopping. In a world where convenience has been re-defined malls can still have an important role. It's just far smaller.
  • Posted on: 12/21/2021

    Is showrooming still a concern?

    Showrooming is a reality that needs to be accepted, not fought. What should be focused on is creating a deeply customer relevant and memorable brand story that customers seek out--and then showing up in remarkable ways however customers choose to engage with your brand.
  • Posted on: 12/20/2021

    What happens when D2C brands diversify product lines?

    A product (or set of products) is not a brand. A brand is a story that consumers want to tell about themselves and/or share with others. Expansion only makes sense if it aligns with the brand story and the foundation has been built.
  • Posted on: 12/09/2021

    Will DoorDash win the ultra-fast delivery race?

    As Seth Godin reminds us (as quoted in my book "Remarkable Retail"), the problem with the race to the bottom is you might win. Or worse, finish second.
  • Posted on: 11/24/2021

    Glossier puts the experience first expecting sales to follow

    "Experience" is an over-used and ill defined word. Everything is an experience. The salient strategic question is do the elements of a physical store visit add meaningful value when it comes to driving traffic, converting that traffic, driving full price selling/cross-sell/upsell, willingness to come back (to our store or our website) and, ideally, share the remarkable story of our brand. The right way to do it is to dissect the key elements of the customer journey for the cohorts that have the best potential CLTV.
  • Posted on: 11/22/2021

    Should Macy’s de-omnify?

    Stated simply: absolutely not. If we've learned anything from the past two decades of digital disruption it is that the idea of separate shopping channels (and the resultant perpetuation of siloed organizations) is wrong and gets in the way of providing a customer-centric shopping experience. Consumers don't think about channels, and neither should retailers. Virtually every remarkable retailer I can think of has succeeded by embracing the blur of modern shopping today and pursued a strategy of harmonizing (my preferred term for omnichannel or unified commerce) customer journeys. The customer is the channel. Silos belong on farms.
  • Posted on: 11/16/2021

    Is physical retail entering a new age?

    There is a major aspect that isn't new at all, but folks are simply waking up to, and another that is mostly new. I've been saying (in my keynotes, articles and in my recent bestselling book "Remarkable Retail") that the retail apocalypse narrative is wrong and that it's not that physical retail is dead or dying, it's that boring, unremarkable retail is. The growth of brick-and-mortar retail among remarkable retailers is totally predictable and understandable when you see how they leverage the value added that physical retail brings AND create a harmonized experience where the customer is the channel. What's new (or at least greatly accelerated) is how stores (and retail overall) are becoming more hybridized. Stores used to be built almost entirely for one role: places for consumer to go see stuff, pick it out, pay for it and take it home with them. Finally, more retailers are understanding the marketing and service role of stores, along with seeing the part they play in digital fulfillment. Physical retail isn't dead, but it's definitely different.
  • Posted on: 11/10/2021

    Should retailers take prices higher?

    If the core of what makes you remarkable is your value positioning in everyday type essentials, any material price increases should be approached very cautiously and only undertaken if there is a strong belief that cost pressures will be pervasive among the competition and comparatively long-lived. If the core of what makes you remarkable is the story you help customers tell about themselves and you sell a want, chances are you serve a more affluent customer and folks are relatively price insensitive to what you offer. There it's a lot easier to preserve market share, share of wallet and margin.
  • Posted on: 10/29/2021

    Should brands and retailers stop destroying unsold merchandise?

    Yes. It's unconscionable on multiple levels.
  • Posted on: 10/29/2021

    How disruptive is the rapid delivery model to grocery?

    It's highly disruptive, but mostly in a bad way. For the most part, delivering groceries is an exercise in lighting a big pile of cash on fire. And while improving route density, robotics and the like can improve margins, it's obvious that having the consumer do the labor by coming to the store has far superior economics unless grocers can find a way to adequately charge for convenience. But the train has left the station on this competitively, and it seems pretty clear that Amazon is baiting other retailers to engage in a race to the bottom. As Seth Godin reminds us, the problem with the race to the bottom is you might win. Or worse, finish second.
  • Posted on: 10/27/2021

    JCPenney finds its new CEO at Levi Strauss

    He certainly seems like a solid choice. But no one can fix JC Penney at this point. Dead brand walking.

Contact Steve

Name(Required)

  • Apply to be a BrainTrust Panelist

  • Please briefly describe your qualifications — specifically, your expertise and experience in the retail industry.
  • By submitting this form, I give you permission to forward my contact information to designated members of the RetailWire staff.

    See RetailWire's privacy policy for more information about what data we collect and how it is used.