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: 08/09/2022

    Will a new store design turn Abercrombie & Fitch into a getaway shopping destination?

    I would add to Mark's comment about the store experience (service and design) that A&F has recaptured customers who turned away 10 years ago by upgrading and updating its product mix. Without commenting on the new design concept (sight unseen), it sounds like Abercrombie is working hard to separate itself from its mall competition with some creative new shop concepts. Apparel spending is soft right now, but A&F should continue to play the long game.
  • Posted on: 08/05/2022

    CVS plans to buy its way into the primary care business

    Neil, I agree completely that CVS has issues with the store experience that it needs to address before rolling out a primary care strategy. From store clutter and cleanliness to the customer service at the pharmacy or front-of-store checkout, CVS has a lot of work to do from my observation. I also wonder how these primary care clinics function within the maze of different insurance plans that most consumers live with. Are they "in network" or "out of network"? The giant insurers and healthcare systems would have a lot to say about the viability of free-standing operations.
  • Posted on: 08/04/2022

    Is Walmart’s HQ reorg a good thing or cause for concern?

    From what I can gather, this is roughly a 2 percent head count reduction at Walmart's home office. Not a huge number (unless, sadly, you are one of the people who lost your job) but certainly a signal that some belt-tightening is called for given the earnings warnings from Walmart and others. Worth watching: Will Walmart reduce its store employee base, or the number of employees in its distribution centers? That's where the vast majority of its associates work.
  • Posted on: 08/01/2022

    Dynamic pricing may be ‘stuck in the mud somewhere in the swamps of Jersey’

    While a $5,000 ticket (even for Springsteen) sounds absurd, there are doubtless fans willing to pay that price and to brag about it. If the market will bear the price hike, the seller and buyer are free to do the deal or to take a pass. Is this really different from surge pricing for an Uber ride, or a Super Bowl ticket, or a high-demand flight? There is plenty of evidence of surge pricing in everyday life -- the ice cream vendor selling Choco Tacos in Brooklyn last weekend for $10, for example, because somebody was willing to pay for it. The ethics of dynamic pricing are a conversation for another day.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2022

    Will marketers hit a home run or strike out with MLB’s uniform ads?

    As a Milwaukee sports fan, I've become accustomed to the Motorola logo on the front of the Bucks' jerseys. (Although I still don't understand the brand synergy there.) If it provides some incremental revenue that allows the team to sign its star players to long-term deals, I'm all for it. Baseball is trickier because traditionalists get the vapors at any real or perceived change in the game. (Perhaps explaining the sport's declining appeal among a younger and more diverse demographic.) But as the only major sport without meaningful revenue sharing — with small-market teams like the Brewers trying to squeeze out every penny of revenue from broadcast and ticket sales — it's a reasonable change that the average fan will hardly notice.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2022

    Best Buy offers a new way to shop with its first-ever digital-first small box store

    Down memory lane with Best Products and Service Merchandise, as many other panelists have mentioned. (Maybe those of us at a certain age...) The concept is certainly viable in today's drive to develop small format stores for more flexible locations, on top of the operating efficiencies involved in the model. Some customers will still look for the full-blown assortments of a Best Buy prototype, but many others will appreciate the work of curation being done for them.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2022

    How important are founders to brand authenticity?

    I think the answer depends on the brand. For example, I'm not sure the origin story of R.H. Macy matters to today's department store shopper, but a smaller brand with a more artisanal point of view would probably benefit. The Ghirardelli example is a good one, and the same might be applied to independent apparel brands where heritage is key to storytelling.
  • Posted on: 07/25/2022

    When will supply chains return to normal?

    As long as traditional supply chain models overreact to collapsing demand — followed by resurgent demand — it’s hard to see a return to normalcy anytime soon. And it’s not just about the post-pandemic world, either. Chip shortages have plagued one industry after another, with companies like Intel finally seeing the need to ramp up domestic production.
  • Posted on: 07/22/2022

    Are Millennials the reason that inflation is so high?

    COVID-19, followed by supply chain disruptions, and spiked by overly aggressive fiscal and monetary policy over the past two years -- these are the underlying causes of inflation. The Millennial generation can't be blamed by itself, any more than the pent-up demand driving higher prices is solely the "fault" of one age group. Sorry, but this theory doesn't stand up to serious scrutiny.
  • Posted on: 07/22/2022

    Is Amazon on the verge of reinventing American healthcare?

    It's one thing for companies like Amazon (or CVS) to identify integrated solutions to pharmacy, telehealth, benefits and so forth. It's another thing to "reinvent" a structure already dominated by a shrinking number of healthcare systems and private insurers in their own race to enhance technology and cost efficiencies. As a Medicare Advantage customer who has used the healthcare system quite heavily this year (don't ask!), I think the only feasible solution for the under-65 set is to offer "Medicare for all" as an alternative to traditional private insurance. I'm not sure I would trust Amazon to be the solution to that challenge.
  • Posted on: 07/21/2022

    Does Walgreens have the right response to defuse growing calls to boycott the chain?

    Absurd that we are still discussing the Walgreens situation on RetailWire a week after the first time without an adequate response from the company. Time for some PR damage control and -- more importantly -- time for Walgreens to revisit its hiring and HR practices as urgently as possible.
  • Posted on: 07/21/2022

    Macy’s keeps going small and off-mall

    Macy's and Kohl's are rushing to develop small-format stores with more location flexibility and lower operating costs. But they have a long way to go before catching up to Target, which has been in the forefront for several years. While it's good to see Macy's acknowledge that its mall-anchor model of the past 60 years is less relevant, the company continues to be saddled with plenty of tired stores across the country. Another challenge in small format stores: Assortment discipline has never exactly been part of the "magic of Macy's."
  • Posted on: 07/20/2022

    Will more Americans make e-grocery delivery a weekly habit?

    One-sixth of consumers shopping weekly for home-delivered groceries is a significant number. The number suggests that the convenience factor outweighs the safety factor in our "new normal" world. (I hesitate to call it post-COVID.) Food retailers need to stay nimble as they deal with all sorts of "last mile" strategies.
  • Posted on: 07/15/2022

    Inflation didn’t slow Amazon’s Prime Day roll – or its rivals’ either

    This is more evidence -- along with robust demand for travel -- that inflation has not curbed consumer spending. Those with a long memory recall that some of the hottest retail increases happened in the late '70s and early '80s, the last period of inflation comparable to today. Although the Fed may crank up interest rates again, it's hard to reconcile their policies with a looming recession. Employment and spending remain high, and gas prices are starting to recede. (As low as $3.56/gallon here in Wisconsin.) The signs simply don't point toward a retail meltdown, as long as stores can get the merchandise content right.
  • Posted on: 07/14/2022

    When did Walgreens’ associates become the contraceptive police?

    Walgreens sells alcohol and tobacco, too. Do the sales associates objecting to birth control products have the same issue with these categories? (I'm guessing not.) A pharmacy is no place to make moral judgments about what customers buy, and a stronger pre-screening effort would help avoid this kind of embarrassment.

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