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Peter Weedfald of Sharp Electronics Marketing Company of America (SEMCA): “A unique and market demanded selling proposition is a standard bill of fare for any retailer”

Retail stores will continue to exist because of the personal connection they provide to customers. No website is stronger than human capital. The reason these retailers, large and small, are losing their in-store traffic is because they do not have a relationship with their community and customers. They have multiple tools and resources at their […]

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Retail stores will continue to exist because of the personal connection they provide to customers. No website is stronger than human capital. The reason these retailers, large and small, are losing their in-store traffic is because they do not have a relationship with their community and customers. They have multiple tools and resources at their fingertips yet are not localizing themselves. The solution is offering personalized shopping experiences and understanding your customers.


As part of our series about the future of retail, I had the pleasure of interviewing Peter Weedfald, one of America’s top sales and marketing leaders. As the senior vice president of sales & marketing at Sharp Electronics Marketing Company of America (SEMCA), Peter is in a rare position in which he oversees sales and brand marketing for both Sharp’s U.S. Home and Commercial Appliance businesses. By aligning sales and marketing as one, Peter has helped New Jersey-based Sharp Home Electronics Company of America focus on furthering its commitment to health, wellness, and Simply Better Living by bringing highly relevant product offerings to consumers and businesses.

Prior to SEMCA, Peter was the executive vice president of sales and marketing for Samsung Electronics in the U.S. and has also held senior executive roles as president of Gen One Ventures, SVP, CMO of Circuit City, EVP of ViewSonic Corp. and media company VP and executive publisher for the Ziff-Davis Publishing Company. Peter is an avid and energizing keynote presenter and author on topics in sales, marketing, technology, digital advertising, and business leadership. His latest industry-centric book, Green Reign Leadership, is sold in over 11 countries with proceeds donated to various children’s charities.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve worked in retail and consumer electronics for several years, from ViewSonic to Samsung Electronics, and now at Sharp Electronics Company of America. I’ve been with Sharp for over five years, overseeing sales and marketing for their commercial home appliances. I have learned key leadership and communication skills throughout my career to be a team player and assist others with their dreams, goals, and passions.

Outside of the office, I am always striving to better myself through music as a concert-level pianist and also through writing. I penned the book Green Reign Leadership, designed to improve leadership skills and is available in over 11 countries.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Since I began my career, I’ve found that there is nothing more fulfilling than giving back. I am blessed to have created several philanthropy organizations, including Samsung’s Four Seasons of Hope, Samsung’s Hope For Education, ViewSonic’s Journey of Hope, and Circuit City’s Fire Dog Across America. All of these efforts have a special focus on children-specific charities and resulted in raising millions of dollars to find heart amongst the innocent. Donating my time and money to others is one of my greatest achievements and brings joy to my life.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaway you learned from that?

My very first sales assignment was in a New York City territory (46 street to 49th street on the west side). At the time, this geographic assignment was considered to be a rough and tumble, challenging selling territory. A selling assignment few would desire or be proud to admit was their responsibility. My boss said each morning I must leave our physical office each morning at 8:00 am and spend my entire day, all by myself, in a suit and tie knocking on strange small business doors hunting for an opportunity to sell a 21,000 dollars word processor to replace a typewriter. If you never spent a day knocking on about 70 doors that kinetically slammed in your face, perhaps this does not sound funny, perhaps a bit painful juxtaposed to our new digital frontier selling platforms.

What was funny was that I was required to fill out a 3 X 5 index card for each door I knocked on with the company information to prove I did my job for the day. What is funny, a funny and most important lesson learned is when I arrived back to the office at 7:00 pm with 70 index cards in my hand and my boss Howard Wood asked me “how was your day today?” I proudly stated, “Howard, I had an incredible day as I knocked on 70 doors in my territory, and I have the index cards to prove it.” Howard said in fast retort, “did you sell anything?” Again, I smiled broadly and said, “no, but I have 70 index cards!” Howard walked away, shaking his head… my very first funny sales lesson was learned.

Are you working on any new exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?

Sharp Electronics Company of America has recently launched our new cost-saving Kitchen Suite Packages for consumers that align with our motto of Simply Better Living — products that are simple to use, better than the competition and help you live a better lifestyle. Our team worked together to create something special for customers and dealers, providing them with exceptional quality and design, all at a great price point. We are incredibly proud to say that this is the first Japanese brand to bring an entire kitchen suite to the U.S. market.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them thrive and not “burn out”?

Establishing pure happiness at home and work will fuel exceptional results and allow you to thrive. I suggest waking up early, focusing on your health, and working towards building a strong team and leading from behind. Collaborating with others and caring every day will allow for personal growth and growth for those around you.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful, who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

We all, as you suggest, are blessed with mentors along the way. The most critical leadership docents we can be blessed to run with are those who care about us personally, care about our success and career future. Who believes in our ability to add value, invest their time to help us stretch, and exercise productivity to grow and flower as expected. I continued today to be blessed through the guidance, inspiration, prompting, and lessons offered and learned from my wife, FrancesAnn. We have been together for decades, and she has always been my clearest sounding board, my generous guiding light in business lessons, in leadership lessons. She taught me never to let your heart battle your mind; rather, stay in balance with the dignity of knowledge to make your very best heartfelt, business effective decisions to achieve. FrancesAnn’s refulgent, caring, sharing, and giving lessons always motivate me to achieve, to strive for better for my team, for my family. For my docent FrancesAnn, I am very fortunate and grateful.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

As mentioned earlier, I have used my skills to develop campaigns, programs, and donations to different charities and organizations. While at Samsung, I created their Four Seasons of Hope and Hope For Education programs, raising over 10 million dollars for multiple children causes in a little over five years. Currently, at Sharp, we support local charities, including Table to Table, Bergen Volunteer Center, Mahwah Environment, Family Promise of Bergen County, Boys & Girls Clubs in New Jersey, & many more. I believe it’s important to give back to those in need and feel extremely grateful to be in a position to do so.

Ok super. Now let’s jump to the main questions of our interview. The Pandemic has changed many aspects of all of our lives. One of them is the fact that so many of us have gotten used to shopping almost exclusively online. Can you share five examples of different ideas that large retail outlets are implementing to adapt to the new realities created by the Pandemic?

  1. They have focused on their internal team members and associates to ensure their greatest safety and family needs are met.
  2. They have refocused their advertising and marketing to reflect the Pandemic’s relevancy and concerns for the consumers they serve.
  3. They offer comfort in their physical stores with cleaners, wipes, and safety masks.
  4. They offer curbside pickup, which of course now limits consumers from filling up their purchase basket (as expected prior to the Pandemic) while wandering thru the store.
  5. They are reviewing their SG&A’s (sales, general administrative costs) for physical stores versus the mammoth increase they realize thru the new “stay at home” consumer economy. In essence, some geographic retail trading areas are selling as much thru e-commerce at a modicum of the cost to run a physical store. Hence, I expect more physical store closures in the coming months and new year.

In your opinion, will retail stores or malls continue to exist? How would you articulate the role of physical retail spaces at a time when online commerce platforms like Amazon Prime or Instacart can deliver the same day or the next day?

Retail stores will continue to exist because of the personal connection they provide to customers. No website is stronger than human capital. The reason these retailers, large and small, are losing their in-store traffic is because they do not have a relationship with their community and customers. They have multiple tools and resources at their fingertips yet are not localizing themselves. The solution is offering personalized shopping experiences and understanding your customers.

The so-called “Retail Apocalypse” has been going on for about a decade. While many retailers are struggling, some retailers, like Lululemon, Kroger, and Costco, are quite profitable. Can you share a few lessons that other retailers can learn from the success of profitable retailers?

A unique and market demanded selling proposition is a standard bill of fare for any retailer. And of course, brands do not make products; rather, products and services make brands. The most successful retailers understand there is no such thing as an Omni-Retailer platform; instead, they must shine the mettle of their brand, products, and services every day, across every consumer touch. A retailer brand is a promise that must be fulfilled before, during, and after a transaction. The most effective retailers stay on the brand offense and are and will continue to be the winners. For example, retailers Best Buy, Lowe’s, Brandsmart, PC Richard & Son, Electronic Express, Goedekers, Mrs. G Appliances, Reno Appliances, and many others we serve, ensure their consumers realize and enjoy their shiny, effective, and highly valued brand promises both in-store and thru e-commerce. These bi-modal retail consumer experiences continue to earn them the right to increase market share and consumer boomerang loyalty competitively.

Amazon is going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise to retail companies and e-commerce companies for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?

Retailers need to drive personalization, whether it’s in-person or online, and also own their community. Most companies put effort into their website and the cloud but are not focusing on connecting to customers right down the road from them. Building a relationship with your customer base, focusing on the local power, and providing them with a one of a kind experience will set you apart from the competition. Remember CRM: Customers Really Matter.

Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. Here is our final ‘meaty’ question. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to most people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would start a movement that would adjust the educational system so that they are ready to enter the workforce confidently when children complete their schooling. We spend over a decade being educated to get a well-paying job, yet young adults entering the workforce are unsure of what industry they should be in. By teaching our children and preparing them at a young age, we can uncover their true aspirations and goals so that they are able to find a lifetime of success.

How can our readers further follow your work?

Readers can follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter and also follow along Sharp Home Appliances social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, & LinkedIn.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


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