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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Chicago born, globally educated, 30+ years as a retailer and retail consultant, hammerhead cyclist
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  • Posted on: 10/16/2017

    A mall carves out pop-up space for online brands

    Smart. I'm sure we're going to see a lot of this going forward as more space opens up and the idea of paying rent for an abbreviated hot business cycle (as opposed to all year) takes hold. It's a no-brainer for both parties. The only issue would be who else is left standing. You don't want to have your hot pop up next to "Charlie's Neighborhood Candy Store" or some such tenant. It looks like the real estate department will remain relevant for a bit longer.
  • Posted on: 10/13/2017

    Are retailers shortchanging the digital transformation?

    What we hear from most retailers is, "we can barely keep up with the lines we have to deliver (focus on the basics), let alone get ahead of the game." It's a cost issue, always has been. Walmart and Amazon don't have those problems or they have the foresight and cash to get past them. Having said that, if retailers don't start to compete in every modern sense of the word, they won't have to worry about it for much longer.
  • Posted on: 10/13/2017

    Is Kroger in denial about the magnitude of its challenges?

    Have any of you ever worked with traditional grocers? For the most part, you're dealing with procurement specialists. Definitely NOT customer-oriented thinkers. Take a hairball the size of Kroger, put it on top of said non-customer thinking and you've got a recipe for disaster in today's age. Table stakes: I totally agree with Sarah's comments.Add to this the fact that competitors who ARE customer-centric are entering the marketplace daily (some big ones too!) and you just doubled the size of the urgency tent. But what do we hear? Increased table stakes. That, to me, is definitely the sign of a company that just doesn't get it.To Ben's point, will they go away tomorrow? No. Will J.C. Penney go away tomorrow? No. Will Kmart? On and on. The point is relevance. And to me, Kroger is irrelevant and continues to prove that on a consistent basis.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2017

    Has Amazon really saved Whole Foods from its ‘Whole Paycheck’ trap?

    I will tell you this much: our local Whole Foods is crazy busy now -- crazy busy. Obviously that single store doesn't a chain make but, if it's any indication, it's working. Having said that, I think proof of concept will come with time. For example: in recent surveys we've done, most consumers think Abercrombie's old CEO is still there and that they're still way too expensive and elitist, none of which has been true for at least two years now.It takes time to reset consumer impressions, especially deep ones like "Whole Paycheck." But if anyone can do it ...
  • Posted on: 10/03/2017

    Walmart deal shows it’s serious about same-day delivery

    Walmart and Best Buy are the only pre-ecom retailers out there who have drawn a line in the sand and said, "Dear Amazon, we're going to compete with you." This is especially true on the PR front, as evidenced by this story/acquisition. 1/2 progressive movement, 1/2 PR. To compete with AMZN on the news front is just about as important as actually leveling the retail playing field, especially to investors, who are focused on innovation more than ever. Good move all the way around.
  • Posted on: 10/02/2017

    IKEA buys TaskRabbit to give consumers relief with furniture assembly

    Brilliant. Think Geek Squad for furniture. What's not to like? Way to close the loop, IKEA, I think I'll start to shop there again.
  • Posted on: 10/02/2017

    Could retail workers benefit from implanted microchips?

    I've heard of using this technique on your kids, which is semi-understandable, especially for the helicopter parents of the last three decades. But employees? That's just wrong.There's smartphone or even watch technology that'd be perfectly capable of doing the same thing. Can you feel the "that's enough" vibe building among Generation Z? Listen a little closer, it's getting louder.
  • Posted on: 09/27/2017

    Will customers let Walmart deliver in-fridge?

    Door step, yes. Kitchen, no way. The vast majority of consumers would agree on that one, I'm sure. A good check would be to ask Postmates consumers if they'd let the delivery person in their house all the way to the kitchen. I'm one and, again, no way.Home delivery is a great test though, that's for sure. An awesome anti-Amazon feature if pulled off right. The operational piece would be the solution, but to find out is to find out. Fail fast, then fix or bail.
  • Posted on: 09/26/2017

    Goodwill finds the need to spin off a down-market concept

    Whaaa? Wow, shows you how elitist I am. But putting that aside for a sec -- c'mon! You're Goodwill! One of the most lasting, definitive brands ever. You think "Goodwill," you know what that is. I thought.In any case, I agree with Meaghan. Why go through everything you need to do to create a sub-brand when a little better merchandising would probably get you where you want to go? Sub-brands are hard, complicated and expensive. Just ask Walmart or Tesco for starters. They oughta know.
  • Posted on: 09/25/2017

    Would a radical partnership help Walmart thwart Amazon?

    Right now at least, Amazon is a Wall Street darling because of two things: growth and innovation. The growth is real, the innovation is part perceived, part real. They are being rewarded for those two factors and those two factors alone. While others are measured by profitability, that has not been the case for the 800-pound gorilla. An exception to an ancient rule, which is actually pretty great.Hence you see Walmart doing their best to show that they too are innovative; best BOPIS at retail, full-cart check out, delivery to home, FAA app for drones, etc. All that is good, but even with Google as a partner it's hard to say that Walmart will ever grow at anywhere near the pace Amazon is/has been. The fact that there are over 20 million Echo units in households now and two-thirds of those owners are buying goods two to three times a week through them tells you that Amazon is just beginning to hit their stride. Conversely, Walmart is catching up on that front and at least 20 million buyers behind.But that's OK. To me, Walmart is better off continuing the tack that they're taking: pounding the PR machine with innovation and becoming THE physical retail destination with excellent e-commerce, than they are with any further collaboration with Google. Even though they may not be growing like Amazon, they're holding their own better than anyone else out there. Keep it rolling, I say.So make no mistake, Walmart's going to be there when the smoke clears, regardless of partners.
  • Posted on: 09/21/2017

    Are retailers getting comfy with click & collect?

    In three different studies we've done over the last five years, BOPIS ranked as a top element customers expected from retailers. But in followup qualitative work, they also outlined how poorly retailers were executing this critical piece of the store of the future. Customers wanted to pull up and have the retailer put the goods in their trunk, but no one other than Walmart was doing that, and even Walmart is just now getting around to it.And why is that? Because more retailers are stuck in the ops world of the '90s. How does it best work for us vs. the customer? Those days are over. The panelists are right, you're going to have to fail fast. But some fundamentals, like customer expectations, cannot be overlooked. For the best example, see Amazon's "Fresh" concept. They nailed it.
  • Posted on: 09/15/2017

    Kitchen 1883 may be a new platform for Kroger’s growth

    Safeway did this in 2007. And after tweaking it over the course of five years, they finally closed it. It was better looking and had a better menu than this effort by Kroger AND it was in California, the home of new restaurant concepts. It was called Citrine. Google it.I'm not suggesting that history repeats itself. I'm saying that Kroger does. Test after test, new prototype after new prototype, and what do we have? The most medium grocery experience ever produced. Just better PR. So what do they really play on? Price and convenient location. Which I would consider very slippery territory now with Prime next-day and Walmart lurking ever closer to your front door. Death by a million cuts.Kroger reminds me of Sears or J.C. Penney. Behemoths that are such giant, archaic hairballs, they'll never be able to be anything other than what they are. Will they be here in 50 years? Probably. Just a lot smaller and still just as aimless.
  • Posted on: 09/14/2017

    Millennials, not Boomers, say associates are key to shopping experiences

    Right! In surveys we do, Millenials almost always rank the store associate last in terms of the experience of being at physical retail. So yeah, I would imagine that when they run into a great associate, it would make a huge difference.Most of the massive issues retail is dealing with today are blocking and tackling fundamentals: good service, fast checkout, easy navigation, fair prices, realistic growth. As my old mentor used to say, "retail is NOT rocket science, it's not even science." Right.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2017

    Nordstrom tries a no-merchandise store

    We tested the idea of showroom stores like this both quantitatively and qualitatively and consumers are more than ready for them. We also know that Bonobos works (Walmart didn't spend hundreds of millions for nothing) and that Argos in the UK has been doing it successfully for a while. To say nothing of the Apple stores, which are essentially showroom stores. So the time is here. I wish more specialty stores would attempt this idea. If you were Gap and you saw Bonobos working, wouldn't you try to emulate them? I guess that's another topic for another day.Having said all that, it's going to take a little time for something like this to hit the center of the bell curve. Patience will come in handy, and a little of the old "super associate" experience (ala Bonobos) will be the key to success.
  • Posted on: 09/11/2017

    Will lower everyday prices boost Target’s traffic and sales?

    They kind of have to, unfortunately, due to pressure from the expansive Aldi and others. We always say, for Americans, price is priority number one through number five, everything else is after that. It's a mentality ingrained in the U.S. consumer's psyche, which is why some European grocers, like Tesco, had a hard time here but European fast fashion, like Zara, works (I mention Europe due to their lack of "discount" insanity in terms of how they run retail).Having said that, Target definitely has more permission to push margins with their private label. The Target brand is not built on price alone, which, if played right, could be a great thing for them in the long run. Sooner or later, most retailers are going to have to leave the commodities to the 800-pound gorilla and turn to the strength of their own brands. Target is ahead in that regard.

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