Cate Trotter

Head of Trends, Insider Trends
Cate Trotter is the Founder and Head of Trends at Insider Trends, a leading London-based retail futures consultancy.

Insider Trends helps brands such as Chanel, Marks & Spencer, Walmart, House of Fraser, Lancome, L’Oreal, Samsung, Clarins, Metro Group, Lego and EE innovate and create world-leading retail ecosystems. Insider Trends works with senior team members such as Chief Executives, Managing Directors and other C-Level professionals, specialising in retail trend presentations and retail safaris. Insider Trends' retail safaris give clients first-hand experience of the latest trends in action and introduces them to the innovators who can solve problems with the latest thinking and technology.

Cate's work draws on the latest case studies, solid data, and insights from her personal connections with retail innovators. As Insider Trends delivers retail safaris in London, New York, Paris and Berlin, she often comments from her own experience of world-leading retail spaces.

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  • Posted on: 08/18/2017

    Will the ‘SmartStockUp’ program drive replenishment sales for Boxed?

    This is a great way for Boxed to explore auto-replenishment without customers getting put-out by having things bought without their consent. Notifying customers about products that they may soon need to buy could drive more sales as it keeps them thinking about purchasing. I think there will be some very interesting insights to be gleaned from how often the items Boxed notifies customers about are reordered, and this will all feed into its AI and recommendations for the next time. There will be challenges in anticipating needs though as tastes and trends can change rapidly which means customers may order a certain cereal for a few weeks for example and then want to move to something else. These nuances, as well as diets, ethical decisions etc, will be where auto-replenishment may struggle - particularly if ordering things without customer input. No-one wants to pay for goods they don't want.
  • Posted on: 08/18/2017

    What do consumers want when using AR or VR to shop?

    There are definitely opportunities for AR and VR in retail, but not for every company or transaction. I'm a firm believer in retailers not just adding in technology for the sake of it. With all new developments like this, they need to understand what it can do and then see how that applies to their business -- if it has no real benefit to customers, then it's not a worthwhile investment. Being able to see what a new piece of furniture or kitchen will look like in your home has value, being able to walk around a supermarket in VR doesn't.
  • Posted on: 08/15/2017

    Will Timberland climb to greater heights behind new experiential concept?

    Experience is becoming so much more important in physical retail. The Nike store takes this to a new level and manages to pull it off. Why go elsewhere for trainers when you can try out a pair on a basketball court at the Nike store? It's that sense of fun and engagement that makes people want to return.With the Tree Lab Timberland is taking a different approach, but with the aim of drawing people back by promising them something new every time. Other retailers have had success with this type of model -- Story in New York for one, so I'm interested to see how it plays out here. Pro:Direct in London is another store that manages to change its look and feel incredibly quickly, but in a sustainable and cost-effective way by designing this into the space.I think experiential retail can definitely be worth the investment for retailers, it's just about getting it right for that brand.
  • Posted on: 08/11/2017

    Will Toys ‘R’ Us take Manhattan the second time around?

    Christmas is a time for toys, so opening up a pop-up ahead of the holiday season in a prominent location seems like a great move on Toys "R" Us' part. I think it's going to benefit from all of the traffic in that area, not only from a footfall point of view but as a branding/marketing exercise. It will be interesting to see how different/effective the in-store experience is though. The interactive elements sound like a good start, but it'll be the customer experience at peak times that determines how much of a success it is.
  • Posted on: 08/10/2017

    Should Walmart buy Birchbox?

    I can see the logic behind this possible acquisition -- like a lot of people, I see this as part of Walmart's strategy to compete with Amazon. It continues the company's recent trend of buying up established e-commerce businesses. Obviously for Birchbox there would be scope to tap into Walmart's huge client base, but there may also be some benefits in terms of Walmart's expertise in running physical stores. I'm not sure I'd have called it an obvious fit, but I can see the sense in it if it went ahead.
  • Posted on: 08/04/2017

    Are the four Ps of marketing irrelevant for retailers?

    I don't think you can call the four Ps dead, but I see a lot of value in the four Es as well. I think the reality is that retail is becoming increasingly a combination of the two. Really though, marketing needs to be rooted in the customer. If you know who they are and what they want then you can serve them better. For example, I think location or place is actually still very important, but it's shifting towards using the smartphone and the customer location to recommend products and stores and spaces that are near where they are at any given time. That offers a great opportunity for a nearby store to engage with a customer and draw them in.
  • Posted on: 08/04/2017

    Can customer journey methodology level the playing field for brick and mortar retail?

    I think retailers have a lot to gain by thinking about the total customer journey, for example someone who might browse online but buy in-store or vice-versa, someone who searches for product reviews multiple times or sees an advertisement and researches the product on their mobile.The store is a great way of marketing the brand and products to customer, engaging with them and offering unique experiences, but it can be difficult to gather the level of data about the customer journey that you can online. But if you have that information about your online customers you can use it to enhance in-store offerings, alongside data that you are able to collect from the physical space. Lots of companies are now tackling the analytics in-store issue so I think retailers are going to have more and more data to work with in the future and that will present opportunities around improving the journey and offering personalisation.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2017

    Should stores entertain bored tag-along shoppers?

    Shopping malls should offer something for everybody -- whether that's a store, restaurant or additional service. It should be that a family, a couple, a solo shopper, anyone of any age can visit and know that there's something in it for them. This is what will keep them coming back. Offering additional experiences is a smart way to differentiate these spaces from online (where so many of the same stores and products are available). For the average store I think it's not possible to please everyone, but then not everyone is your target audience (and that's where you should be focusing your attention).
  • Posted on: 07/27/2017

    Can robots keep shelves stocked at Schnucks?

    This exact tech has been trialled in other retail locations already, so it's interesting to see experimentation growing. I think it will be interesting to see the impact on customers -- hopefully Schnucks is using its knowledge of its stores to deploy the robots in quieter periods for example. As the tech still isn't commonplace customers may be wary or unsure about it.For the store though I think there are a lot of benefits here -- if the tech can help monitor stock levels and positioning, then it becomes an aid to, rather than a replacement for employees. Staff can concentrate on problem areas, as well as being freed up to deal with enquiries and other customer-facing activities.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2017

    Can in-store experiences save retail?

    I don't think in-store experience is limited to just "wow" moments or developments like magic mirrors. It's what it says on the tin -- the experience in the store. You can have a great in-store experience that just helps customers find what they want, pay and leave quickly. Data and analytics can certainly help with that.If we look at Nike's fantastic New York flagship, the space caters for all sorts of customers -- you can just walk in and buy some trainers and leave. Or if you're someone who is really into the brand or your training then you can engage with the treadmills or the basketball course and the data tracking and really find the best product for you and understand your performance. Both are valid in-store experiences, but it's about catering for both types of shoppers.I also see a lot of in-store experience improvements benefiting all customers such as mobile payment points to reduce queuing. Even if you're just buying some socks you still don't want to spend time in a queue.I absolutely believe the in-store experience is of utmost importance, but what that means in practice depends on the retailer and their customer. With that in mind a deep knowledge of the customer is always vital.
  • Posted on: 07/21/2017

    Will Walmart’s innovation strategies pay off?

    There's some really interesting things going on here and I think Walmart need to be commended for looking at ways to improve and keep up with customer expectations. I think it's also important that they're focusing on employees. Amazon is still largely a faceless business to the average customer, whereas Walmart very much has a physical presence. Placing value on its employees and investing in them and using them the right way will be a big part in making these investments and innovations work as part of the customer experience.
  • Posted on: 07/21/2017

    Will customers use an Amazon app to chat?

    It's difficult to imagine the need for another straightforward messaging service; the ones that are dominating at present like Facebook Messenger do so for a reason. It's interesting also that this seems to be its own standalone app rather than part of the Amazon app. I think as ever it warrants keeping an eye on -- Amazon is known for its innovative pushes and it may well be that this is going to be much more than a place to chat, but somewhere to shop, pay, share content etc.
  • Posted on: 07/17/2017

    Are $3.00 generics a sound grocery e-tailing model?

    I think Brandless has opened up the door for an interesting conversation about what brands mean to customers in today's retail industry. Does quality trump brand name? If Brandless can deliver high-quality products at $3 a piece does that make them more attractive than a big name brand? However cost-savvy customers will be comparing whether generic products at $3 are actually cheaper than the big name alternative in every case. As we see with dollar and discount stores, what seems cheapest is not always!Also as others have mentioned, while they may not be selling "brands," Brandless still has to build its own brand in order to make its model work. Obviously the price point is one way of doing this, and the social aspect is another, but getting its name in front of people is going to be key. I can see this appealing to younger shoppers who might be struggling with high bills and low wages, but are also wanting products that meet their values like free-trade, organic etc. In that respect Brandless could be successful.
  • Posted on: 07/14/2017

    Will an AR try-on app cut down on online clothing returns?

    I love the Metail concept and I think it's a practical application for this type of tech. I don't think returns are ever going to go away -- there will always be items that don't fit or look or feel the way a customer expects -- but I think any steps that can be taken to help customers make better choices when shopping online can help reduce the issue. As tech keeps getting better and better so applications like Metail will as well. In order to make a difference, though, the tech needs to be widespread and used by a lot of retailers. Once customers have used it and found that their real life experience in terms of fit, etc., matches the virtual one they will have most trust in the tech and hopefully that will reduce overbuying.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2017

    Will more customer rewards lift J.C. Penney’s sales?

    If a customer regularly shops with a certain retailer, then a loyalty programme can help them feel rewarded for making that choice. Of course if the product and experience are good enough, and distinct enough, they'd be shopping there anyway. Rewards programmes are a fine part of the relationship ecosystem, and it's great J.C. Penney is looking at ways to improve that, but the payback to customers has to be worth it. I'm not sure if this is as far a step forward it could be -- for example, is the lower pricing on selected merchandise fixed across all customers or is it customisable? At this point it really should be the latter.

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