Peter Sachse, Macy’s Chief Growth Officer and YMA FSF President, welcomed FSF Scholars into Macy’s Executive Boardroom to discuss his career and offer advice to those seeking to make a path for themselves in the fashion industry. After intently listening to Sachse’s stories and hearing more about his job, Scholars asked questions and were given a tour of Macy’s Executive offices.
The Boss' Journey: Steps to Success
Sachse’s path to success has spanned a range of capacities and taken him to several cities across the United States. Born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Sachse attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, earning a degree in Finance in 1980. He went on to build experience in merchandising, stores, marketing, innovation, and international and digital retailing. He first started in retail at Macy’s after graduating from Macy’s Kansas City Executive Development Program. After completing the program, he worked as a store manager in Macon, Georgia, and then in Atlanta as a DMM. In 1989, he left Macy’s and returned to Wisconsin, working for a local company. In 1992, he was named Senior Vice President and General Merchandising Manager at The Bon Marché in Seattle. Five years later, he was named Executive Vice President and General Merchandise Manager at Macy’s East in New York. In 1999, he took the position of Vice Chairman, Director of Stores at Macy’s East, and in 2001, became the President of The Bon Marché. In 2003, he then became Macy’s first Chief Marketing Officer. In 2006, he was approached by Terry Lundgren to serve as Chairman of Macys.com.
From 2012 to January 2015, Sachse served as Macy’s Chief Stores Officer. After that he took over as Macy’s Chief Innovation and New Business Development Officer from January 2015 to February 2016. In this position, Sachse oversaw growth initiatives, including international development, exploration of a Macy’s off-price strategy, potential new store formats, expansion of the company’s offering for wedding-related occasions and gifting, and application of technology to the shopping experience.
Sachse took the position of Macy’s, Inc.’s Chief Growth Officer in February 2016, a new role for the company. Sachse is responsible for overseeing Macy’s merchandising, as well as Macy’s Backstage, Bluemercury and international expansion. Sachse has also been involved with the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund, where he serves as President.
Words of Wisdom
Learn from the people that work for you. “If you listen to them, you’ll be successful.”
Seize every opportunity. “Allow those doors to open and walk through them, and you’ll never know what will happen.”
Everything revolves around product - “Marketing has to tell people about it, store experience has to show it. Product is how we keep the customer from getting exhausted with so many outlets to shop. In the end what we have to concentrate on is buying stuff that people want.”
Q: “When you partnered with Google, you were saying it was risky…how long did it take to make it profitable?” - Sahar Ghassemi, UC Berkeley
A: “We have a really deep relationships with Google. We continued to refine the algorithms with Google and it is the single biggest source of traffic to the website. We get more traffic to website than we do through direct load.”
Q: “In your eyes, how has Macy’s changed since you started here?”- Julie Lubbers, Brandeis University
A: “The pace of change is faster than I have ever experienced, and it’s because of young people, how you are so willing adopt new technologies much faster than before. And it is these mobile devices - mobile has changed retail. So what we need to do is make sure that transition - how you go from mobile to in-store - [is seamless]. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could have a bunch of things you put in your bag on your way to the store, and just hold those somewhere on Macys.com, and when you came in we knew what you wanted? So things like that are things we’re working on, and trying to think about. How do we make that experience go right from your mobile device into the store? As we move into the future of stores, that’s the role the store can play; it can play this experiential thing but it can also be this conduit between that device you live with. You’re digital natives, you grew up with this. I had a hurdle with this, you didn’t - you were born with that thing in your hand. You expect it to do stuff - and do it fast, and correctly, and you have no patience. A page takes two seconds to load, you’re already off. So we work on all those different things, we know how people react to mobile today, we have 12,000 beacons in our store. If we saw you looking at shoes on Macy’s.com, then saw you were in between our shoe beacons in store, what if we sent you a coupon for 20% off? So the stores will always have an important role in our lives. We’ve had these stores for 158 years, I don’t think they’re going to go away. The website continues to grow, that $200 Million website that I got is now about to be about $5 Billion this year, so it’s enormous. The $5 Billion is great, we love it, but the stores are $18 Billion.”
Q: "Would Macy’s ever do a rental service?" - Emma Gage, Marist
A: “Yes, we’re considering it. We’ve met with almost every company. Think of a world where we could sell clothing and buy it back, and then put it into Backstage or another service. I have a dream: your perfect closet, are you ready? Why can't your closet be in the cloud? Almost the only thing left in your lives that you actually own - is clothes. You don’t own music - it comes from a cloud. You don’t own a car - your car shows up, it’s called Uber. You don’t own a vacation home, you rent it from Airbnb. Why is clothing the last thing you have ‘til death do you part? Your perfect closet would be a closet with 1/3 of it staples, then 1/3 is subscription - for a certain amount of money you get 5-6 things and rotate it – and the last 1/3 is special occasion, it only shows up on Thursday and you only use it for that special date on Saturday. I believe there’s a direct correlation with the rise of fast fashion with Instagram and Snapchat and all those certain kinds of social media - this rapid change of social media and what it has done for every industry is fascinating to me. You can’t be caught in the same outfit twice, so rentals make a lot of sense."
Q: “On the advertising and marketing side, what’s the process you go through, taking from the top and implementing these ideas?”- Callie Duty, Kent State
A: “We have probably the most talented team in retail - most retailers outsource their search marketing, hiring an agency to do it, but we’ve built ours internally since 2006. Google has helped us build the software, that’s how deep our relationship is with them. We work very hard, with a very talented team - the majority of whom live in San Francisco because they are in really close contact with our engineers - we talk a lot, we strategize, and Google will invest in us. One of our highest ad tools is retargeting - we put a cookie on you that you saw that ad or that shoe and then we put it in your Facebook - that’s highest conversion that we have - now we don't only show you that shoe, we take out 5 others like that. Re-targeting is unbelievably effective.”
A special thank you to Mr. Sachse for taking the time to provide such valuable career advice to our Scholars, and showing us around the Macy’s Executive Offices! We can’t wait for the Macy’s End of Summer Party!
By Katherine Manson, 2016 Scholar