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Top 25 Thought Leaders in the Future of Brick and Mortar

Jan 08, 2020

The best and brightest of brick-and-mortar retail have plenty of wisdom and experiences under their belts. Fortunately, many of them are eager to share their knowledge with the rest of us. To keep pace with the rapidly changing world of brick and mortar, keep up with these top 25 retail thought leaders.

Joe Skorupa

As the editorial director of RIS News, Joe Skorupa consistently makes the cut as one of the top thought leaders in retail. In addition to publishing on RIS News, Skorupa frequently speaks at major business and retail conferences.

Anne D’Innocenzio

One of the top voices in retail news, Anne D’Innocenzio holds the title of national retail writer for the Associated Press. Her works appear in publications including the AP, The Washington Post, MSN, and Bloomberg, and her stories run the gamut from quarterly earnings reports to post-holiday sales tips.

Andria Cheng

Forbes senior contributor and retail expert Andria Cheng has spent more than 10 years sharing her thoughts on the evolution of brick and mortar. She has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg News, in addition to her current role with Forbes.

Doug Stephens 

Who better to consult on the future of retail than the founder and president of Retail Prophet? Doug Stephens has worked with some of the planet’s biggest brands and can anticipate changes with the best of them.

Al McClain

The CEO of RetailWire, Al McClain, has more than 30 years of retail experience at his disposal. After a career of working in management positions for a variety of consumer brands, McClain now shares his stories and insights on the major retail publication he helped create.

Matthew Shay

As the president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, Matthew Shay has seen a thing or two about what separates successful retailers from the rest. Retail generates $2.6 trillion every year for the U.S. GDP, and Slay knows more about the industry than perhaps anyone else in the business. 

Cathy Wagner

A former retailer turned self-employed expert, Cathy Wagner founded RETAILMavens to help retailers optimize their businesses to generate more profit without pesky interruptions. As a speaker and thought leader, Wagner helps retailers understand how to make more money without sacrificing work-life balance in the process.

Sarah Halzack

Bloomberg columnist Sarah Halzack has rich experience in retail news. After spending more than 10 years working as a retail reporter for The Washington Post, Halzack is full of insights for savvy retail professionals.

Sarah Butler

Contributing for both The Guardian and The Observer, Sarah Butler has cast a wide net as a thought leader in retail. Butler covers retail news while offering insights on ethical business practices for retail professionals. 

Barbara Thau

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn’t let just anyone become its senior features editor, but Barbara Thau made the cut thanks to her insights and experiences in the retail world. Beyond her work with the CoC, Thau also covers the world of retail as a contributor for Forbes.

Neil Saunders

More than a consultant, Neil Saunders helps both enterprise executives and everyday readers make the best decisions for their retail businesses. Catch him at a conference or follow him online to hear his insightful takes on everything from consumer behavior to market forecasts.

Carol Spieckerman

Carol Spieckerman keeps audiences updated with quick-hitting insights on all the latest in retail on her website. Working as a presenter and consultant for businesses around the world, Spieckerman has a wealth of knowledge from which to draw as she helps retailers make more of their opportunities.

Leslie Hand

Not many people can claim to be an executive at one of the top retail research companies, but Leslie Hand can do that and more. As an advisor and retail influencer, Hand focuses on innovation, strategy, vision, and experience as key components of retail success.

Sarah Nassauer

Covering the larger retail scene, Sarah Nassauer of The Wall Street Journal should be one of every retailers’ go-to sources for industry news. Her coverage of major brands, e-commerce trends, and labor issues demonstrates a broad yet deep understanding of retail and the challenges within the industry.

Melissa Gonzalez

Named as one of the LinkedIn Top Voices 2018, Melissa Gonzalez regularly shares her experienced viewpoint with retailers looking for an edge. Gonzalez is also the founder of The Lionesque Group, which brings together experiential retail strategists and pop-up experts.

Bob Phibbs

Bob Phibbs, The Retail Doctor, knows the cure for just about every retail woe. Phibbs is a celebrated thought leader in the retail space, and his advice has helped several major brick-and-mortal brands understand and attack their opportunities in an increasingly digital world.

Shep Hyken

Shep Hyken brands himself as a customer service and experience speaker, but his knowledge of success extends to every corner of retail. Hyken makes his living as a speaker and advisor. He also runs a customer service blog on his website, which is full of tips for retailers to keep customers delighted.

Diane J. Brisebois 

The president and CEO of Retail Council of Canada has held her position for 25 years. Before then, Diane Brisebois acted as president and CEO of the Canadian Office Products Association for 14 years. She holds several positions on influential boards and has won numerous awards for her leadership abilities.  

Helen Dickinson

Helen Dickinson, CEO of the British Retail Consortium, has worked in retail for more than 25 years. In her current role, she helps retailers help themselves, providing insights and advice for both members of the BRC and anyone else eager to learn more about retail success.

George MacDonald

The executive editor of Retail Week worked his way up the chain, starting as a reporter for the same publication in 1998. George MacDonald publishes regular blogs and columns on retail trends, all of which are filled with useful knowledge for retail professionals.

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle

Author, speaker, and founder and publisher of Retail Minded, Nicole Leinbach Reyhle knows the retail industry inside and out. Her focus on small businesses and technology makes her the perfect thought leader to follow for insights on the future of brick-and-mortar retail. 

Clare Bailey

Clare Bailey founded The Retail Champion after a long and successful career with retailers and consulting firms. She now uses her platform to provide retail consulting to brands of all sizes, leveraging her unique perspective to become a regular media contributor.

Sucharita (Mulpuru) Kodali

You don’t have to be a graduate of both Harvard University and the Stanford Graduate School of Business to be a retail expert, but it doesn’t hurt. Sucharita (Mulpuru) Kodali, now vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, specializes in both retail and digital operations for consumer-facing companies.

Lauren Debter

Formerly of the Forbes markets and investing team, Lauren Debter brings a practical yet enlightening approach to retail coverage. Her stories look at the billionaires, the under-30 successes, and everyone in between to help readers gain a broader appreciation for the variety of paths to success.

Nathaniel Meyersohn

CNN Business retail reporter Nathaniel Meyersohn combines breaking news with trend analysis to provide quick and relevant updates for retail professionals and investors. His pieces cover everything from sales to in-store song selections, and he is not afraid to call out brands for making bad moves.

These 25 thought leaders in brick-and-mortar retail will say plenty more over the years as trends rise and fall in the new decade. Keep an eye on these industry experts so you’ll always know what’s on the horizon.

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