32: Steve Dennis: Reinventing Retail in the Age of Amazon

“Dig deep into the different types of customers and understand different customer journeys. And then try to figure out different strategies to respond to that evolving mix of customers.”

– Steve Dennis


Here’s the thing about multichannel: it’s not really about the channels. It’s about having a variety of opportunities to find, delight – and be of service to – your customers. The channels are a means to an end. The end is building a profitable business by way of meeting your customers needs and wants.

In a nutshell, that’s what today’s episode is all about: how channel-centered organizations set up for struggle where customer-focused organizations are designed to thrive. No topic is off limits, including: budgeting, org charts, the fallacies around Amazon, and retailers should aim to satisfy a customer’s shopping journey – not necessarily the buying journey. Sound counter-intuitive? Listen to find out why it’s a valuable long-term strategy.


Steve Dennis

Steve Dennis is a strategic advisor and thought-leader on retail innovation, marketing and growth strategy. He has served as the chief strategy officer and led the development of omni/multichannel integration efforts as a member of the executive committee of two Fortune 500 retailers. One of those is the Neiman Marcus Group, where he drove major growth initiatives and led the company’s credit card, loyalty program and customer insight strategy. He was recently named one of retail’s top 20 influencers and is a retail contributor for Forbes.


Steve is a sought after keynote speaker, and also the president and founder of SageBerry Consulting, LLC.


shopping versus buying, the shopping journey, cross-channel behavior, customer behavior and digital influence, today’s organizational chart (with digital leaders), customer focused vs. channel centered organizations, budgeting for new organization, external competition, fallacies around Amazon, digital disruption, clientele-ing, personalization as differentiation, competing on price


Some quotes have been lightly edited for length

“Dig deep into the different types of customers and understand different customer journeys. And then try to figure out different strategies to respond to that evolving mix of customers.”

“Silos belong on farms. Break down those organizational silos, break down data silos so you can understand the customer behavior more comprehensively, and try to get your incentives aligned between the different marketing groups.”

“Digitally influenced [brick and mortar] store sales in almost every category are actually greater than e-commerce sales. In other words, you’re seeing more customers going to a digital channel, (so a website, mobile site, whatever) to influence what they’re going to do in store.”

“One of the real problems of having your e-commerce or direct to consumer business responsible for digital marketing is they’re probably measured on how website traffic converts and how digital market spending turns into e-commerce sales. In fact, chances are, it’s four or five times more likely that that traffic will actually drive physical store business.”

“People don’t talk about basic shopping and buying; they talk about really interesting product, interesting experiences, interesting solutions.”

“I go to specialty retailers largely because they can help me solve the problem that I’m looking to fix or really provide something unique.”


SageBerry Consulting, LLC: http://www.sageberryconsulting.com/

Steve’s personal website and blog: https://stevenpdennis.com/

Steve’s contributor page at Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevendennis/ – 64b877b44b70

Connect with Steve on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stevenpdennis/


Deloitte Digital: https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/deloitte-analytics/articles/marketing-data-science-trends.html

Navigating the New Digital Divide, by Deloitte Digital: https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/consumer-business/articles/navigating-the-new-digital-divide-retail.html

Forrester Data Management Playbook: https://www.forrester.com/playbook/The+Data+Management+Playbook+For+2017/-/E-PLA620

Purple Cow, by Seth Godin: http://www.sethgodin.com/purple/

“A Baker’s Dozen of Provocative Retail Predictions for 2018,” by Steve Dennis:


“The Ticking Time Bomb of e-Commerce Returns,” by Steve Dennis: https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevendennis/2018/02/14/the-ticking-time-bomb-of-e-commerce-returns/#4f979d84c7f1 

“The Reinvention of Retail Demands New Metrics,” by Steve Dennis: https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevendennis/2018/01/30/the-reinvention-of-retail-demands-new-metrics/ – 12aa692fbac5

What makes a specialty retailer great?

  1. A differentiated curation of product
  2. Exceptional sales associates
  3. A non-gimmicky, experiential element – of merchandising, service, product, or all of the above

Have questions or ideas for Kristin and the Channel Mastery podcast? Email: [email protected]

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