Realizing Retail Dreams

Let us know if you see a trend here. When Leslie Revitt, WG’09, was a student at Wharton, she took every retail class she could. At the time, she recalled, there wasn’t an official retail concentration. When she joined Boston Consulting Group (BCG) after graduation, she tried to get involved on as many retail-related projects as she could.

She had a passion for retail but wasn’t sure where to go with it, she said. She was sniffing opportunity around the edges of the industry, particularly emerging omnichannel, which focuses on providing an integrated consumer experience for a brand across all brick-and-mortar and digital platforms.

Leslie Revitt, WG’09

Leslie Revitt, WG’09

Finally, she was sold on a chance to work within the industry: on the three-person omnichannel team at Macy’s. That was in 2012. Since, she’s become Macy’s vice president of omnichannel and leader of that team, which has grown to eight staffers and is recognized as being on the “leading edge” of omnichannel.

Fast Company named Macy’s one of the “world’s top 10 most innovative companies.” In explaining why, one of the world’s top 10 trendiest publications (kidding) wrote:

“For mainstreaming the notion of everywhere retail. In what it preached as ‘omnichannel’ retail, Macy’s spent the better part of 2013 completely transforming its supply chain—making an impressive 500 stores perform double duty as fulfillment centers—to ensure customers could order and receive products from any store location, in any variety, and, when possible, on the same day. At last count, 10 percent of online sales are fulfilled from Macy’s stores.”

Revitt spoke with me about omnichannel on Feb. 28 in between her early morning Amtrak trip from New York to Philadelphia, work emails, her presentation at the Wharton Graduate Retail Conference and work calls later that afternoon.

Omnichannel: the notion of "everywhere retail"

Omnichannel: the notion of “everywhere retail”

MBA students from the Wharton Graduate Retail Club host the Wharton Graduate Retail Conference annually, and it’s no coincidence that Revitt would participate in an MBA student event. For one, five years after her own Wharton experience, she’s come to value her Wharton education. One of the conference’s organizers was Revitt’s former intern. And for Macy’s, she spent a good deal of time last year recruiting MBAs (though she wasn’t necessarily doing that on this day).

“The skill set I look for is very much the MBA skill set,” she told me, adding, “MBAs are popping up all over Macy’s.”

Indeed, many retail companies appear to be starting to recognize the value of an MBA, she concluded—perhaps because of the rigor and quantitative skills they bring to their work. The retail industry is constantly evolving, and the skills built at Wharton help navigate the ambiguity and uncertainty.

Congratulations to Revitt for catching a great opportunity in this breaking omnichannel trend.

Editor’s note: For more about retailing innovations, and the role of Wharton’s Jay H. Baker Retailing Center, read our most recent magazine feature on the topic, “10 Years Into the Revolution.” 

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