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.

Other Links from lee Peterson:

  • Posted on: 10/20/2016

    Will Millennials abandon traditional grocers?

    In a word, I'd say that yes, Millennials plus most grocers = a bad mix. From our own studies, Millennials described going to the center of a traditional grocer as "a fate worse than death." Wow. And with the lean towards healthier food options and the new array of healthy/affordable one-off food service operators popping up, it really doesn't look good for grocers and their dominant future customer.Our recommendation for traditional grocers remains the same: turn yourselves into two things; a fulfillment center (BOPIS and ship to home) and a "Social Playground" -- i.e., a place to learn about food and engage with more knowledgeable associates while upgrading the quality of the product.Barring the ability or wherewithal to do those things, the other option is the purely American solution for all retail: just be as cheap as possible and hope for the best (note the sarcasm).
  • Posted on: 10/19/2016

    Will Apple turn its stores into something more than stores?

    To me, they already are! In any mall/street, whatever, wherever they are, they're the most crowded store. I go in just to watch people or look at new stuff, not to buy, and it seems like everyone else is too. Fun to talk to the staff about new stuff coming out as well. So, add in genius bar, and maybe a band/presenter or two occasionally, and they're there. As we used to say, there's definitely a "there there." It's a no-brainer.
  • Posted on: 10/14/2016

    Target to test vertical farms in stores

    Wow. Normally, you would think "crawl, walk, run" in terms of tests, but this is straight to run IMO. You have to give them credit for taking the leap, but I'd think you'd want to get MUCH better at the task of presenting produce better first (crawl).In any case, it's great to see a predominantly physical retailer try something outside of their normal M.O. After all, the competition is Amazon and they've got Echo, Dash, Prime, drones, etc. -- so getting up to speed with that mindset is paramount.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2016

    Is it time for retailers to stop the Thanksgiving madness?

    With online shopping, the idea of keeping stores open on a family-centric holiday seems archaic. I'm sure it especially does to digital natives. Wouldn't you rather do something fun with the kids?That was a dumb idea. Let's admit our mistake and move on.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2016

    Will Amazon give new meaning to convenience stores?

    I can hardly wait. Amazon has taught all brick-and-mortar retailers a thing or two with things like Fire, Prime, Echo, Dash, One-Click, etc., so I would expect to see the "Convenience Store of the Future" in this effort as another lesson. Let's get on with modern retail, shall we?
  • Posted on: 10/10/2016

    Will doubling down on e-commerce pay dividends for Walmart?

    Well, it's not working so far! In March, Amazon did 62% of all online sales. Walmart did about 6% (albeit with a whopper increase in $). So, not sure how much more you should throw at e-com, but obviously they pretty much HAVE to or Amazon will run away with 80% of Holiday '16 online.There is an old Japanese proverb that says, "the reverse side has a reverse side" — in other words; don't forget what's right in front of your face. Let's just hope that Walmart equals the e-com investment in stores, staff and private label (Amazon can't do that) going forward. IMO, that's where the most progress could be made.
  • Posted on: 09/28/2016

    Are private labels the key to beating Amazon?

    Private label is absolutely ONE of the keys to beating Amazon. Customer service, quality of said private label and (if you have stores) a great environment being some of the others. Amazon is the same as Walmart only more convenient. Remember how we discussed beating Walmart for about 20 years? Some, like Abercrombie or Whole Foods, paid no attention to them and were on top of the world. Think of those lessons: quality private label, cool stores, very distinct brand positioning, great staff (maybe not so much at A&F, other than looks) and consistency across all those factors.Same David vs. Goliath game, different Goliath.
  • Posted on: 09/27/2016

    Can a revamped Office Depot compete with digital?

    A young person I work with recently told me this: "I needed some paper clips and i was near an 'office' store (which shall go unnamed) so I walked in ... it took me 15 minutes to even find the paper clips! I'm never going back, never." So there's a tough row to hoe for the office guys and it's not just services, IMO.I always thought a showroom store would be the best progression for the office stores to evolve to. Or at least test. "Showroom" meaning you shop a sample then either have it shipped to home or pick it up at the counter. And for what it's worth, this idea tested really well with young people in our studies. We've actually discussed that idea with certain "surviving" office stores ... but we got nixed. I guess they know a lot more than we do about the store of the future, and hopefully finding the paper clips.
  • Posted on: 09/26/2016

    Toys ‘R’ Us mulls small, urban stores as part of turnaround

    Smaller, urban concepts could work as "showroom" and pick up (from online purchases) centers, but from our own testing, the customer has to be much younger to accept that idea, and I'm not sure that TRU's core customer fits that bill.In terms of the "experiential destination," I'll believe it when I see it. TRU is still very much stack it high and let it fly oriented with the exception of their test store in NJ that makes the occasional 10 x 12 area "experiential." They have a long way to go and are still pretty much run by operations, not customer expectations.
  • Posted on: 09/20/2016

    Why did Walmart buy

    Ok, that listed logic makes sense ... if you didn't already have Sam's Club! How does that Walmart brand play into this? Because, you know, it's the same thing! Only difference is the way JET does the "incremental" pricing, but certainly Sam's could've just copied that.So I'm sorry, but it still makes no sense. I'd bet most Sam's Club execs are scratching their heads as well (behind the scenes, of course). UNLESS it's the old "take out the competition before they get big enough to take you out" tactic (which isn't listed). THAT, makes sense (see also: Wild Oats/Whole Foods).
  • Posted on: 09/19/2016

    Is digital defining the shopping experience?

    I just read something in Forbes that asked, "since everything about shopping has changed, why do we still measure ROI from stores the same way we did 30 years ago?" -- great question. First of all, there will be fewer stores and the stores that remain will become more experience-oriented vs. sales-oriented (see: no "Store" after "Apple") so, yes, the ROI expectations are way off.All this is of course fueled by Amazon figuring out digital native thinking way ahead of the retailers that came before them. Amazon looks to gain information as an ROI from stores. Smart. Traditional retailers need to pay more attention to the 900 pound gorilla in the board room.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2016

    Amazon to roll out pop-ups nationwide

    Pop-ups for Amazon are a great idea. You just knew they had to get physical sooner or later but to do anything more permanent, including book stores IMO, is much riskier. Amazon is the best retailer in the world at "digital native thinking" and has always really only been about gathering information vs. building revenue (see also: Echo, Fire, Grocery, etc.). This idea just further enhances that quest.
  • Posted on: 09/09/2016

    Is altruism the secret ingredient in Starbucks’ success?

    Wow, that's impressive. And really so spot on. I hope Schultz runs in '20.Having said that, it would be hard for other companies to emulate this excellent behavior considering how many retailers are struggling right now. Can you imagine Staples pushing a similar campaign? It's not that they shouldn't, it's that they can't. That's not to take anything away from the fact that Starbucks did all the right things to get to where they are, but that mentality has been a part of their DNA all along (see also: insurance and education for all employees, etc.). Which has not been the case for most.Given that success is a factor in breeding altruism, maybe Bezos could do a little more? Between Gates, Schultz and Mr. Amazon (all in the same city, by the way -- coffee clutch?) they could put a serious dent into changing the world for the better.
  • Posted on: 09/07/2016

    Can pop-ups wake up mall traffic?

    Pop-ups really make sense during peak periods like holiday, but to pop up in the middle of summer and expect that event to increase traffic is a mistake IMO. If customers are trained to look for new and exciting things when they go to the mall anyway that will help, but it's not the end-all. Mixed-use is the ultimate draw.
  • Posted on: 09/06/2016

    Will new retail associate roles drive Apple’s sales even higher?

    Of course product has a lot to do with Apple's success, but IMO, their people are a close second. I once counted the number of associates Apple had on the sales floor (not Genius Bar) of the 5000 square foot store I was in. 32. 32 sales associates in 5000 square feet! Every single customer was being waited on hand and foot — and there were a lot of customers there as usual. Do we really think that there's NOT a correlation between that number and the $ sales per square foot they put up? Everyone talks about emulating Apple but a high sales cost is rarely mentioned. Time to wake up.Apple is also smart in that given online's encroachment on physical retail, store associates will become even more critical going forward. So defining roles so that customers know what they do (not just for operations) is brilliant and necessary all at once. I wouldn't look for the world domination to end any time soon.

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