DICK'S Executive Chairman and Chief Merchant Ed Stack on constant innovation in retail

The Visionary 2024 honoree Ed Stack answers "20 Questions"
By Mary Rowedder

Ed Stack, executive chairman and chief merchant of DICK’S Sporting Goods, is the recipient of The Visionary 2024 award for inspiring incredible change in retail. Stack will be celebrated at the NRF Foundation Honors this January in New York City alongside fellow impactful retail leaders in the industry. Stack reflects on his lifelong career journey with DICK’S beginning with his first job at 13, and the importance of constant innovation, adapting with new technology and the changing consumer. 

We caught up with Stack, asking him 20 questions about his retail journey and experience in the industry. Here are a few questions, along with Stack's answers (watch the video above for all “20 Questions”):

What is your leadership philosophy?

My leadership philosophy has always been to empower your team. Our organization chart is really a diamond-shaped organization chart, where my name is always at the bottom of the chart. My job is to make sure that the people who work directly with me have all the resources, the capital and the personnel to make sure that they do a great job. At the top of the org chart is the customer, or who we refer to as the athlete. Our philosophy is we really have more of a servant leadership, that's been our management style, and it seems to have worked over the years.

What is one job in retail most people would not associate with retail?

Today, if you're going to be a successful retailer, technology is a really important part of your business. Whether it's ecommerce, what you're doing from a supply chain standpoint, how you're managing your inventory, how you're managing pricing going forward or what you're doing for marketing, technology is extremely important.

What is one misconception about retail that you would love to debunk for everyone?

I think one of the big misconceptions of retail today is that traditional brick-and-mortar is going away. It's not. I think we can all see that, post-pandemic, how important [brick-and-mortar] is. I do think that there's still going to be meaningful consolidation in the retail industry. There's going to be a lot of people who might not make it. In order to survive, you have to innovate. You have to keep up with what's going on with the consumer. You have to keep ahead of your competition. 

What is the future of retail?

The future of retail is really bright for those who invest in their business, those who understand their customers, those who distance themselves from the competition and those who invest and really stand out in the competitive set. The definition of loyalty in retail is the absence of a better alternative. For those retailers who can offer the consumer out there a better alternative, the future is really very bright and we're happy to be a part of it.

The NRF Foundation connects people to an industry that’s a great place to start and a great place to grow. Since 2015, the NRF Foundation Honors has raised the funds to continue to provide programs and resources to help people build better lives and stronger communities. Join us in New York City and be a part of the story of how retail builds extraordinary careers.