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
  • Posted on: 01/12/2018

    Surreal to so real – Sam’s closes 63 clubs after Walmart announces pay raise

    So what? Wouldn't you? Besides, the two moves are totally unrelated. Closing under-performing stores should not detract from spreading extra profits to employees. Two very disparate strategic moves. Re: stores: everyone knows that footfalls are down and e-commerce is way up so, isn't that also a good move for all employees long-term? They have 660 stores, which, if you haven't been keeping up with current events, is still too many stores, esp when the company reported not too long ago that its e-commerce sales were up 63 percent.Closing stores will be a natural part of every retailer's annual strategy for years to come now. I'd get used to that news as a non-event and start focusing on more positive stories like the recently reported 15 percent of sales being from BOPIS. Let's move on to what stores will be, not what they were.
  • Posted on: 01/11/2018

    Walmart CEO says ‘Happy New Year’ with pay raise for employees

    Wow, trickle down come to life. Reagan's probably jumping for joy in his grave right now. Walmart's starting to look like a real 21st century player, aren't they? Investing in tech and tech thinking, really listening to their customer, building Walmart "Academies" to train/re-train employees, excellent BOPIS, on and on. Finally, someone drew a line in the sand and is competing with the 900 lb gorilla!
  • Posted on: 01/10/2018

    Should American Apparel bring its sexy image marketing back?

    Some football icon once said, "go with what brung you here." The same applies for American Apparel in my book. Abercrombie & Fitch for the most part too. Besides, once you've removed the head of the snake (both CEOs), you'll probably be OK. That was the problem more than the marketing.What's challenging is changing to a much softer approach and then trying to get that original irreverence back. In other words, brand consistency. Or in both of their cases; stop being so confused. Stick with what brung you here.
  • Posted on: 01/09/2018

    Kohl’s is on a roll coming off the holidays

    Maybe the Amazon Lockers are working and maybe their new CEO is much better and maybe Amazon will buy them. Oh and also, maybe all boats are floating so they just caught a good wave. I think all of the above.
  • Posted on: 01/08/2018

    How steep are the barriers to smartphone checkout?

    This reminds me of the barriers to buying online that were first encountered. I always thought the airlines handled their transition to digital better than anyone else with humans showing you how it worked. Matter of fact, they are still there to show you the way or to check in however you'd like. Eventually, 90% of travelers came around to using the machines and now most use the apps as well. The reps migrated from clerks to customer service reps, which is where retail needs to go as well.Let humans guide the process at first and/or urge the users/non-users to participate, emphasizing the ease and convenience. And in this day and age, stressing that no one's job is being replaced, they're just changing to better serve. Again, using the airline model, you can see that there's still plenty of reps there to help solve problems.
  • Posted on: 01/05/2018

    Will retail be woven into the fabric of the new, walkable suburb?

    I think we're talking about Easton Town Center just outside of Columbus, Ohio, right? Hats off to Yaromir Steiner & Associates for creating exactly this idea almost 20 years ago now. Where there was once seven shopping centers in Columbus, there are now only two, and Easton is the clear leader with local and global merchants and restaurants of all stripes. Auto dealers too (Tesla)! It's a place you want to go to, and we all know that you don't have to go to stores anymore, you have to want to go.Every time I step foot into Easton I think of how advanced the idea is and how overlooked it has been. The fact that the Wall Street Journal didn't even mention Easton is further proof. You're not going to believe this, but sometimes, great ideas come from the middle of the U.S.!
  • Posted on: 01/04/2018

    Does online shopping have a cardboard box problem?

    Good question! For one thing, right-size the product with the box. I got a present from a retailer that was about two square inches in a box that was at least one square foot. Had that product been right sized, we all would've saved a bunch -- Gaia too.Another option is to ship all apparel or any soft goods in re-recyclable plastic bags. Rapha does that and it totally works. In any case, it's a great challenge. Our neighborhood looks like kids built 1,000 cardboard forts out front on collection day -- not good.
  • Posted on: 01/03/2018

    Kroger may have an Ace (Hardware) up its sleeve

    It feels like grasping at straws. As if your local Kroger isn't junked up enough. One near us has furniture and art work (!?) next to a pizza shop next to the book section. Yikes. In my opinion it would behoove them to focus on fundamentals, like better food, especially produce.
  • Posted on: 01/02/2018

    Amazon and Google engage in a smart speaker price war

    I'm surprised it's not free yet. All Prime members should have one, why screw around with a couple of bucks? Also that'd put some pressure on the Google/Walmart guys, for sure. They're supposed to make a profit.
  • Posted on: 12/28/2017

    Will other grocers beat Amazon Go to the punch?

    We did a test with more than 3,000 consumers and the "just walk out" factor scored very high in terms of increased purchase intent. But realistically, we're a long way of from being about to actually execute that. It seems easy; scan and go (Apple already does it), but things like shrink, inventory levels, the right technology, returns -- you know, physical retail ops -- keep bogging the idea down in the board room. That is to say -- it's hard to actually DO!Having said that, this reminds me a lot of when e-commerce first got on the radar and all the dinosaurs just sat around and watched an outsider (Amazon) come in and steal their lunch. And then their dinner before they got going.Regardless of how hard it is to execute, someone, like 7-Eleven or even Dollar General, should step up, fail fast and get ahead of some newcomer lurking around the corner about to pounce.
  • Posted on: 12/27/2017

    What retail apocalypse?

    No one in their right mind said there was an actual retail apocalypse, other than the mainstream media (although some of us repeated the term, ahem). Retail has just changed dramatically, and forever.Besides, stop bragging. Retail SHOULD be better than ever; it's a consumer paradise! Anything you want at just about any price you want, when you want it, how you want it, from anywhere you want it from -- what's not to love about retail right now? The only apocalypse is for those who can't keep up with that last idiom.
  • Posted on: 12/26/2017

    Lululemon leans on personal development of associates

    This is still THE single best retail strategy: great people on people experiences. So obvious, yet so overlooked. Think of the emulators of the last couple of decades; Starbucks, Apple, Southwest Airlines, Whole Foods -- all with one thing in common: great people. Odd to think it's still newsworthy.I'm not saying this in a vacuum. Walmart's newly minted "Academies" being proof that the belle curve is coming around to what most retailers forgot with the advent of the big box. Without a great "people process" (from HR on out to ops), you might as well just lay down to the online onslaught.
  • Posted on: 12/20/2017

    Branding for a brand-averse generation

    You know, I'm with Gen Z on this one (and most things, actually): please leave me alone! Be a good brand, generate word of mouth with quality, great service and by doing the right thing (think REI/Patagonia lately) not by running an auto-sound video when I call up The Weather Channel!We all thought the internet was going to shield us from ads for a while there but damn, it's worse than ever! I can't watch a video, do a search, look at ESPN or anything without a required amount of ad time. Required! It's really, really intrusive. Stop it! Someone in Adbusters once said, "anything on TV is not worth buying" -- I'm starting to think that about online ads too. Good brands need to be good. And getting out of our faces would be a start; it's really not helping you sell yourself or your goods.
  • Posted on: 12/18/2017

    Did Netflix cross the data-disclosure line?

    Best PR? Fake controversy. And that's what this is. Look, if you don't think they don't already know what we are ALL doing with their products, you're living in a cave. So what if they had a little fun with it? It wasn't personal (like, "hey Bill Baily of Newark ... ") and it's clearly more funny than scary. And then again, from a PR perspective: Home Run. I applaud them for being human.As Madonna once said, "All PR is good PR."
  • Posted on: 12/15/2017

    Are micro influencers better for retailers than macro influencers?

    The whole notion of paying celebrities to hype your product as opposed to them endorsing it of their own accord is expensive, extremely disingenuous and risky all at once. Wouldn't it have seemed like a great idea to get Russell Simmons to hype your product a year ago? Then what? You're locked in. I'm for micro, the timeless way.I know it's old school, but in my opinion there is no better way to market your product than through quality, honesty, uniqueness and the always-difficult method of staying relevant. That's your job! In the end, you're always better off being yourself instead of someone else's toy of the week.

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