By Chelsea Wortham
Mobile Internet devices that have led to greater access to communication have changed the overall retail experience for shoppers, shifting power away from merchants and manufacturers to the consumer, Stephen Sadove, former chairman and CEO of Saks Incorporated, told a group of University of Miami School of Communication students on Thursday.
Speaking in Shoma Hall on the topic “What’s Going On with the Retail Consumer Today?” Sadove discussed the evolution of “omni-channel retailing”— the experience shoppers have with retailers through computers, brick-and-mortar stores, television, radio, direct mail, and even shipping.
Sadove’s talk also touched on issues ranging from branding and consumer trends to cyber security, mobile Internet usage, consumer purchasing power, and marketing innovation. His remarks were preceded by a private luncheon with UM President Donna E. Shalala, trustees, School of Communication Dean Gregory Shepherd, and members of the school’s Visiting Committee.
Sadove, who joined Saks as vice chairman in 2002, became CEO in 2006, and successfully steered the Fortune 1000 operator of high-end department stores through a global recession, provided students with firsthand knowledge of the retail and consumer sectors while also giving advice on effective leadership.
“What differentiates people in their career is coming up with new products and new ways of doing things,” he told students. “Don’t focus on wanting to be a CEO; focus on learning about the field. Learn as much as you can in that field.”
Nicole Saunders, a sophomore journalism and public relations student interested in the beauty, fashion, and entertainment industries, described Sadove’s visit as an “enriching experience.”
“My two biggest takeaways were when Sadove spoke on the importance of brand positioning and the importance of an office culture,” Saunders said. “I also loved when he said, ‘As a CEO you are a quarterback. Your job is to make sure you’re on top of it.’ ”