Meet New York-based Principal Tim Ceci. Tim brings more than 30 years of retail industry experience in business development, multi-store leadership and related omnichannel projects. He has effectively led teams to maximize revenue, profitability and growth on a variety of platforms across a broad range of mono and multi brands in the U.S. and Europe. His secret to sustainable success? The ability to zoom in and out while keeping people at the center of his focus.
What disruptors are Consumer & Retail organizations facing today?
Retail is going through an evolution—one that started pre-pandemic but has certainly accelerated since—where in-person, online and even Direct to Consumer (DTC) experiences are all becoming one landscape for the consumer to engage with a brand. We’ve seen some truly wonderful advances in digital experiences, but organizations need to find the right balance. A recent Forrester study showed that over the next 5 years, retail commerce will exceed $5 trillion, 2/3 of which will be from brick and mortar. Physical experiences are not going away, retailers need to figure out how to get omnichannel elements right.
We are also seeing things like continued globalization and rapid technological advances that are forcing organizations to figure out where to make investments and how to measure their return. And a rise in awareness in the core areas of sustainability, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and social consciousness. These elements are impacting how people want to have a relationship with your brand—consumers and employees alike.
What core challenges does this present for Consumer & Retail companies?
There are four key people-centric areas that organizations must navigate to create and preserve world-class interactions between customers and store teams.
Attracting talent. Right now, there are more open roles in the U.S. than there are people to fill them. Employees have a choice in where they work and are looking for a culture that aligns with their core values.
Training and development. Delivering a seamless customer experience requires meaningful training across your organization—not just front-end associates.
Workforce experience. Employees (particularly from younger generations) want to feel connected to your company’s purpose and do meaningful work. It is about alignment to values, not just compensation.
Effective leadership. Cultivating a purpose-driven culture starts with consistent messaging, coaching to success and acknowledging wins (big and small).
Any advice for these leaders?
Double down on your internal culture. Culture is a living, breathing part of your organization that extends to customers. In fact, companies that are consistently named a “best place to work” tend to have a loyal customer base. Start by heading out onto your shop floor (whether that’s within a distribution center or on Madison Avenue) and getting to know your people. You will gain insights that elevate the data you’re reviewing, turning it into a story that brings the numbers to life. And you’ll be able to see and act on the culture you want to build.
One of my favorite stories from my 30 years in this industry is about CEO, Micky Drexler building a customer-centric culture at Gap. He was notorious for visiting store fronts and distribution centers to get a pulse on culture. And the ethos that he instilled (via an all-company email) was that we had two kinds of people: (1) those who service the customer and (2) those who support those who do. It was a unifying moment for our culture and has stuck with me ever since.
Any final thoughts?
Delivering a seamless omnichannel experience is dynamic and complex—but possible to execute well. We help brands get coordinated across all functions of their business to create, refine, and deliver experiences that delight their customers. If you’re curious about what this might look like within your organization, let’s connect.
Favorite breakfast food?
Frittata. My grandmother used to make this delicious dish all the time.
Peanut butter or Nutella?
Peanut butter. Often with bananas on whole wheat.
Early bird or night owl?
Early bird. I am a runner and find this the best time and way to start the day.
What’s the last thing you read?
The 1619 Project created by Nikole Hannah-Jones and the New York Times.
Is there a cause or endeavor that you’re involved with?
Beacon for Change, a non-profit organization that helps young people in Western Cape, South Africa. My colleague, Eileen Mac Donald was inspired to act after witnessing that many children attended school without shoes or uniforms—and that many would go door-to-door after school to ask residents for food. She cooks healthy meals for approximately 100 underprivileged kids a day. And organizes efforts to provide clothing and a safe place for youth to make friends and spend time together. I’ve been able to witness firsthand the impact of Beacon for Change’s generosity and am a proud advocate of the work they do.
Tim is pictured here during a recent trip to work with Beacon for Change.