Retail, like other industries, is fairly inbred. Many retail leaders have been in the business for years, even decades, and have seen a lot change. Jeffrey Gennette is a perfect example of a couple of retail management phenomena that we are seeing. The first is that he has been with Macy’s for over 30 years. That’s a long time to be in retail, and clearly he and others like him have not grown complacent. In fact, they are steering their companies into some of the most active battles retail has ever seen, with many industry watchers claiming that retail will change more in the next 5 years than it has in the last 20. The second point of interest is that Mr. Gennette has come up through the ranks of merchandising. Like the epic HBO drama Game of Thrones, retail leaders tend to come from one tribe or another. In the 1980s, leadership emerged from the operations tribe when big efficiency gains were possible from improvements in logistics. Later the IT tribe took the lead as initial investments in eCommerce and new operational technologies changed the retail game. Today, business conditions have put the merchandiser/marketer squarely in charge. From the management of the website (and in most cases its strong double digit revenue growth), to outbound marketing and promotions, to the collection of valuable customer data, the merchandiser today wears the crown.
We have been following Macy’s progress over the last couple of years and are thrilled to see that their vision of what a great customer experience is dovetails nicely with our own. We wish Mr. Gennette and Macy’s much success in this next episode of Retail Game of Thrones.