Rick Ausick’s 7 Essential Tips on How to Succeed in Retail

During his 40-plus-year career in the retail business, Rick Ausick has risen from a buyer at Marshall Field’s department store to president of the multinational Famous Footwear chain.

In a few short weeks, Ausick is set to retire from the industry. But before saying his farewells, he shared with FN a few pieces of sage advice for the younger generation of retail execs.

rick ausick
Rick Ausick
CREDIT: Whitney Curtis

1. “Be excited about what the possibilities are now but also understand what it might take to get there.”

2. “If you see a great idea, ask: What can we learn from that idea that we can apply to our business to help us enhance our interaction with the customer?”

3. “Not everything has to be applied to your business. [Focus on] the things that will drive the customer that you’re trying to speak to and that will motivate them, engage them and get them to want to shop with you.”

4. “Everyone gets anxious and wants to get someplace fast, but my suggestion would be to do what you’re doing really well. If you’re good at your job, more opportunities will come.”

5. “Be open to different kinds of opportunities. This concept of a straight-line career path probably isn’t the way that things are going to be anymore.”

6. “The retail industry is going to need people with a more comprehensive view of the world and expertise in [different things], whether it’s data collection, data usage, digital marketing.”

7. “The hardest part of being a merchant is the time warps. We’re looking at a product that won’t be here for six months, while analyzing what happened yesterday and seeing what we’re selling today. The ability to put that in some kind of sequence that gives you information to act on is a unique skill set that merchants need to have.”

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