PROFILE

Lee Peterson

EVP Brand, Strategy & Design, WD Partners

After over 30 years as a merchant at Limited Brands, a retailer and a retail consultant, Lee brings an innovative approach to strategic assessment and brand development across diverse industries. He is particularly in tune with cultural trends, consumer demographics, and buying behavior. This experience gives Lee a well-rounded and informed approach to brand development and designing customer-focused retail and restaurant experiences. Lee wholeheartedly believes that stores must perform for the retailers, as well as consumers.

At WD Partners, he leads an experienced group of creative retail designers and strategists working on brand and prototype development for such clients as Wal-Mart, The North Face, Starbucks, Gatorade, Red Bull, Best Buy, New Balance, Safeway, Home Depot, Culver’s, Bob Evans, Whole Foods Market, eMart, Co-op Mart, Mimi’s Cafe and LensCrafters. Lee also leads WD’s marketing team which produces their web site, white papers and all marketing communications.

His comments have appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Forbes, Fast Company, and on American Public Media’s Marketplace, as well as in industry magazines such as VM+SD, Brandweek, Chain Leader, QSR, Restaurants & Institutions, Nation’s Restaurant News, and Chain Store Age. Lee is also a frequent speaker on retail issues and trends. He is currently serving on the editorial board of VM+SD, a retail design trade magazine.  He is also an avid cyclist, outdoor enthusiast and lover of Nantucket Island.

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  • Posted on: 07/25/2016

    Will discount student loans work as a Prime incentive?

    Like all things Amazon, it's a very good test. If this flies, they could garner customers for life in a lot of very creative ways. Remember the Fire Phone? Fail fast = digital native thinking. I wouldn't poo-poo anything they do.
  • Posted on: 07/22/2016

    Is fast-fashion slowing down?

    Just the fact that the term "fashion" is used to describe this category of retail should be your first clue. The very meaning of the word and even the industry itself is about something that comes and goes. If you're hot now, you're not hot later. That's just the nature of the beast.And a fashion retailer can become consistent by hitting the right fashion in different departments at different times and, sometimes, you can hit them all at once and be on fire. But with the likelihood that you'll hit them all at once comes the opposite scenario: you miss them all at once. And you'll see both happen to fashion retailers over a period of time if you pay attention. And let's not downplay talent. If a retailer has someone with a great eye for what's next, that can and will make all the difference in the world. But even that's fleeting. People change jobs or get burned out.Another factor is category or "look" heat. When khakis and cargo bottoms were fashionable, you actually saw new retailers pop up pretty much based on that look. And they were successful for years. Until the look died. No one wanted it anymore i.e., it became UN-fashionable.What's happening now is both. Some fashion retailers are simply making mistakes and missing the hot looks (Uniqlo), while others are hurting because there isn't enough hot categories now to make the numbers they've been making prior (XXI).To sum it up, the fashion business is almost impossible to maintain consistently for too many reasons. Having said that, just wait until the next look hits and watch some of the current floppers flip back to your favorite store. That's fashion!
  • Posted on: 07/21/2016

    Can Primark conquer America without selling online?

    Well, it's not really a fair question for their business model, is it? Their buying M.O. and their turn ratio kind of makes it impossible to sell on line. What's in stock for more than 5 minutes? So, doing what they're doing — fun brand site with some promo ideas — is about all they CAN do IMO. Keep it up, Primark! (PS: have fun competing on price and disposable fashion here in the US...)
  • Posted on: 07/20/2016

    Is Amazon.com retail’s 800-pound gorilla or a crafty coyote?

    We've been calling them the 800-pound gorilla for years. The huge thing in the corner you just don't want to talk about, but if you don't, it's going to have you for lunch. Coyotes can't do that.Prime Day is a perfect example. How many decades have we looked at "summer sale!" signs and "clearance!" events to stimulate summer sales to no avail? And they nail it, first pitch. That's one scary gorilla.
  • Posted on: 07/19/2016

    Do wine and beer make for a better shopping experience?

    The phenomenon of a full-service customer experience is not only happening with wine and beer, but with coffee, food, comfort areas, product testing, high-level human service and anything else involved with giving customers a reason to actually go to a store. The old Marine motto, "anytime, anywhere" now actually applies to retail CX. Beer? Sure. Coffee? Sure. Chocolate? Uh, yes! Comfort area? Why not? Concierge? Of course. Stay a while? OK.What we're witnessing is the beginning of the idea that nothing is out of bounds when it comes getting people to come into the physical spaces we invested so highly in for the last 30 years. Have a beer ... PLEASE!
  • Posted on: 07/01/2016

    Amazon’s Prime Day countdown begins

    I was pretty set back by how good Prime Day was last year, so I'm personally ready to be amazed again. I feel like Amazon is in this halo zone of doing everything right these past few years. Don't you? Remember when Gap was in that zone, or Abercrombie & Fitch, or even when Walmart was in a kind of no-lose mode? It seems like every great retailer goes through it.Historically, retailers level out sooner or later. With Amazon's model and their dominance of e-commerce, though, seems like we have a long, long way to go before that happens.
  • Posted on: 06/30/2016

    Can retailers sell anything without sales?

    There are few emulators when it comes to this topic IMO, but an oddball example is Forever 21. How can they be "EDLP" and everyone else is in email frenzy town with "70 percent off!" blurbs? Simply because they ARE always low price. That's their brand and they stick to it.This topic leads to a bigger one though, and that is: short term thinking vs. long term thinking. Forever 21 decided that they were always going to put goods out at low margin and then run with that all day long. And so they do. Everyone else seems to have a bad season, a winter storm, a bad buy, a wrong color, a bad CEO, an activist investor, or something along those lines which causes them to panic and abandon their strategies (and their brand) and mark everything down to cost. At the end of the day, more long-term thinking is required. It's not too late.
  • Posted on: 06/29/2016

    How should luxury brands embrace the internet?

    To me, this really proves out the research that shows that consumers consider online shopping to be very functional. Because obviously, the purchase of luxury goods is exactly the opposite of that. The overwhelming majority of people we talk to describe their e-commerce experience as "getting things done" or "not wasting my time going somewhere" or "shopping for necessities." None one of those notions apply to a luxury purchase.It could be that due to its very nature, top-end purchases (operative term) will always remain above the e-commerce fray. It's also the category where customer service on the human level is very high, a double whammy to the "Amazon Can't Do That" factor.
  • Posted on: 06/28/2016

    Barnes & Noble to sell beer & wine in new concept stores

    It's a great idea. The only question is: what took them so long? Cost? What's the cost of going out of business? Book stores, coffee shops, record (music) stores all have centuries old reputations for being gathering spots. Only in the last 30 years did we turn them into innocuous big boxes.Given the tectonic shift of functional retail to online, going back to some ancient fundamentals in the physical space is a winning proposition IMO. People talking to each other, seeing things, touching product, ensconced in a brand-right vibe (sound, smell) ... C'mon, we can do it again!
  • Posted on: 06/24/2016

    What will happen to Macy’s after Terry Lundgren steps down as CEO?

    If the new Easton (Ohio) test is Gennette's mission, then there's hope. Easton will have more/better trained associates, a lower SKU count, coffee/yoga shops, interactive displays, on and on ... you know, a better customer experience.We shall see though; this feels like a transitional move to me. I'm not expecting anything revolutionary until a true digital native takes the helm.
  • Posted on: 06/23/2016

    Millennials love their grocerants

    Grocers definitely need to act more like fast casual restaurants, if they're not already. But unbeknownst to most people is the challenge they face with labor. Most grocers are union, and it's very difficult to run a fast casual restaurant with union labor for all the obvious reasons you can think of.So, should grocers think/act more like restaurants? Yes, especially like fast casual restaurants. Can they actually operate like restaurants? For most traditional grocers, not under current labor conditions. That's why someone like Whole Foods (non-union) can do food service so well. Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-union, those are just the facts.
  • Posted on: 06/22/2016

    Will luxury shoppers buy electric cars at Nordstrom?

    What makes sense is for physical retail to become more "lifestyle" oriented. That is, cater to all aspects of their customer's life. Urban Outfitters is a master at that, Restoration Hardware too. Abercrombie used to be (remember that magalog!) good at it, and department stores also used to be, until they started relying mostly on apparel these past two decades.It's a great way to create more interest in your stores for sure, but becoming a lifestyle merchant does not happen over night. The idea of taking category merchants and teaching them to focus on their customer's life is quite a challenge. But it is very difficult to see a future for most physical stores unless they get out of their lanes and take that step.So good job Nortstrom, keep it up.
  • Posted on: 06/17/2016

    ‘Got Cycling?’

    As an avid cyclist, I can tell you why cycling has declined: it's hard to ride anywhere safely! Fundamentals like lack of infrastructural support -- bike lanes, places to park, safety signage, laws supporting cyclists (people are constantly clocking cyclists and walking scot free) just to name a few. Bikes are also expensive as hell now that so many new (fab!) materials have been introduced, but that's secondary in my opinion to the danger factor. Look at New York. All the above has happened there in earnest and more people than ever are riding (Citi Bikes help too). Also Copenhagen, I mean, I don't need to say anything about that cycle heaven, but there's a lot to learn from the Danish.So to me, the campaign idea is a good one, but until that same energy is put into lobbying local governments to increase safety and awareness and to implement stricter laws about nailing cyclists, it won't change much.
  • Posted on: 06/15/2016

    Will an online dollar store work?

    I liked this idea the first time when it was called ... Amazon. But given the American obsession with price, it'll probably work for a while anyway. Having said that, I do not think this idea will ever come close to putting sweat on Jeff Bezos' brow. And when the novelty wears off and you wind up back on Amazon for what you need, well, I'm just saying.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2016

    IRCE recap: Is there a right way for retailers to use beacons?

    Hallelujah Mr Silverman! That's the first time I've read about beacons being used in a customer friendly (vs. retailer/sales friendly) manner. Totally agree that beacons will really hit their stride when the customer's needs are considered first, i.e. product location, service, convenience, questions and just help in general. And not only for big box but especially for big box. Nebraska Furniture Mart has been a leader in customer service for some time (people will travel hundreds of miles to go to their stores), and it looks like that will continue.

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