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: 12/06/2022

    Do DoorDash layoffs signal tough times ahead for same-day delivery services?

    While DoorDash was smart to add retail partners (not just restaurants) to its service, it's fighting a couple of headwinds and paying the price. First, "instant" home delivery services are suffering a post-pandemic hangover just like Peleton and streaming services -- people are going back to the gym and in-person dining. Second, consumers are savvy about those escalating delivery fees in the face of inflationary pressure. If I can drive 10 minutes to pick up a curbside order (for free), or simply dine in, why do I need DoorDash and its competitors?
  • Posted on: 12/05/2022

    Are ads causing shoppers to lose faith in Amazon search results?

    I assume Amazon has weighed the risk/reward of added advertising revenue vs. loss of credibility. Savvy shoppers may realize that sponsored products are being featured first on Amazon (and keep scrolling until they find what they want) but other consumers in a hurry may click on the first option they see. The practice is becoming prevalent elsewhere -- for example, TripAdvisor mixes sponsored hotel listings with its own rankings -- but nobody depends more on consumer trust than Amazon.
  • Posted on: 11/30/2022

    Was the high-traffic Thanksgiving weekend a promise of things to come?

    The traffic numbers (in-store and online) are encouraging, although I haven't seen comparisons to 2019 and I hope another panelist can enlighten me. If the traffic equates to spending, it's a good sign for the rest of the holiday season. If this is "revenge shopping" after the past two years, bring it on! Good sales will come at a price -- between the promotional environment and the inventory glut at some retailers -- but this helps prove what some of us have been saying for a while: Inflation does not spell doom for retail sales, any more than it did during the 1970s and early 1980s.
  • Posted on: 11/29/2022

    What does the promotional climate mean for off-pricers and resale?

    Off-pricers are doing well in a value-oriented environment -- as they have done for the past several years. The surprise is that they are mostly flourishing, despite increased price competition from "mainline" retailers who are working through piles of apparel overstocks.
  • Posted on: 11/21/2022

    Are department store shoppers getting a late start on Christmas or taking a pass?

    While the NRF is touting a "revenge shopping" holiday season in its usual blue-sky way (forecasting 6 percent or better sales gains), a lot of realism is in order. I don't think apparel sales are doomed based on a slow start, but they will kick in late -- and at deep discounts. News reports of ample inventory levels are encouraging savvy shoppers to wait, and piles of unsold 2021 merchandise are adding to the margin pressure.
  • Posted on: 11/18/2022

    Do retailers need to add chief trust officers?

    Every C-suite executive -- whether in charge of tech, finance, marketing or other functional areas -- should have the mindset that they are providing a trustworthy product. It shouldn't matter whether the executive is customer-facing, dealing with associate relations, or engaged with a company's vendors. Offloading "trust" to a single executive -- without defining what trust means as part of a company's culture -- is a meaningless gesture.
  • Posted on: 11/17/2022

    What price will Target and other retailers pay for their holiday sales promotions?

    Whether the last three weeks at Target constitute a trend or a bump in the road, it's clear that most retailers will need to sacrifice gross margin this season. They are faced not only with a shopper with heightened expectations of deep discounts, but also (in many cases) with huge backlogs of seasonal inventory. The stores still working through "pack and hold" apparel from 2021 have the most to lose.
  • Posted on: 11/16/2022

    Aldi Australia vs. Kroger: The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge

    The Kroger ad is running frequently here in Milwaukee (under the Pick N' Save nameplate), in a 30-second version. It gets my vote over the Aldi ad, which spends so much time on slapstick that it somehow misses the "food, family, holidays" message. The Kroger ad is maybe too reminiscent of a sequence in the movie "Up," but it delivers its message -- again, "food, family, holidays" -- in an emotionally memorable way.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2022

    What does it take to build a positive corporate culture?

    Aside from the obvious (treating employees humanely, leading by example, and so forth) I would add that empowering associates to make decisions is critical. This provides a sense that the job has real meaning, not just a series of tasks.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2022

    Gap is now selling on Amazon. Desperation or genius move?

    If you think of Amazon as a virtual shopping mall, with a wide variety of "storefronts," then Gap's presence at the mall makes sense. The location strategy that built the Gap business is obsolete, and Amazon will bring millions of potential customers to Gap's e-commerce business. Two things can be true at once: This may smack of desperation (Gap needs the sales) but is also a smart move.
  • Posted on: 11/10/2022

    Will Target’s new store format be even a bigger hit with its guests?

    It sounds like Target has two goals in mind with its new store concept: First, to refresh hundreds of its existing stores; and, second, to improve the functionality of its omnichannel initiatives. The extra space devoted to online order fulfillment (in the Houston prototype) might be hard to replicate in existing stores due for remodel, however without identifying and shrinking less productive floor space.
  • Posted on: 11/08/2022

    Will travel keep retail’s 2022 holiday from taking off?

    Spending money on experiences vs. "things" is not a new trend, but it's underlined by post-pandemic changes in consumer behavior. That being said, spending of discretionary dollars on anything -- travel, dining out, and so forth -- is actually a good harbinger for retail business. There are real economic pressures like inflation, but shoppers will be spending despite the perception that "everything is awful."
  • Posted on: 11/04/2022

    Will dynamic pricing work for restaurants?

    Restaurants have practiced kinds of dynamic pricing for years -- think early bird and weeknight specials -- but they have not always used available data to vary "regular" pricing during different opening hours. Once you post your pricing online, or once your prices are visible at a delivery partner like DoorDash, it would be tough to raise your prices during peak hours. So -- the capacity may exist but the wisdom of such a tactic is debatable.
  • Posted on: 11/01/2022

    Can Marks & Spencer help Target replicate its designer collab magic in grocery?

    I expect the M&S collection to sell out quickly, if Target's history with other designers is any guide. It will give the food business a short-term sales and traffic boost, but 15 SKUs may not have the lasting impact that Target is aiming for. The first several collaborations showed the company's risk-averse side (in terms of inventory levels), and I hope Target can avoid disappointing customers who will be shopping for the Marks & Spencer goods.
  • Posted on: 10/31/2022

    Walgreens is ditching task-based performance metrics for pharmacists

    Eliminating the performance metrics may not be a good idea, if the end result is longer wait times for filled prescriptions and more unanswered phone calls. (I moved several prescriptions from Walgreens to a local pharmacy chain this year because of issues like these.) I realize that task-based measures can put added stress on understaffed pharmacy teams, but the outcome of Walgreens' policy change may be an even worse customer experience.

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