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: 06/23/2017

    What will a Nike/Amazon deal mean for the brand and other retailers?

    Wow, that hurts, eh? But like Wall Street and so many others, Nike's betting on the lead horse. After all, it's their livelihood that's at stake, so it's hard to blame them. It is also further proof that being a middle man in the digital age rather than someone with original, branded product is NOT a good position to be in. If the "Everything Store" has your stuff too, it's time to re-think what you're doing.
  • Posted on: 06/21/2017

    Why did McDonald’s end its Olympic sponsorship?

    Uhm, because the terms "Olympics" and "McDonald's" are the antithesis of one another? Just guessing.
  • Posted on: 06/21/2017

    How did mobile become the ‘glue’ in the Sephora shopping experience?

    Emulate them now. Just do it. This is the future for all retailers, with or without stores, but in particular it's especially relevant for those with expensive physical assets out there (uh, stores).
  • Posted on: 06/20/2017

    Will UPS’s Black Friday delivery surcharge have retailers seeing red?

    Shipping fees always get passed on to the consumer. Even with Prime. It's just a matter of whether or not and/or how you tell them. Where this gets dodgy is when you're selling commodities, then you can't build the costs into the cost of goods without it being obvious. Further proof (as if you needed any) that private label is the only road to success in the future. And for commodity brands, it's DTC or Amazon.Also it seems to me that if you're FedEx, you might want to tout the fact that you DON'T charge extra and ride that to the volume bank. I definitely smell a bidding war coming up.
  • Posted on: 06/19/2017

    Will the Bonobos acquisition give Walmart a fashion edge?

    To me, this is all about understanding how showroom stores work. Think: if you didn't have to have huge inventory levels, you could have smaller customer space, and if you had smaller customer space, you would have more space to turn the rest of your store into a fulfillment center. Whether it's BOPIS or ship to home, stores will become half fulfillment, half experience, and this is one leaping step towards that end.The fashion element here is an ancillary benefit.
  • Posted on: 06/16/2017

    What happens now that Amazon is acquiring Whole Foods?

    As an avid user of both brands, I'm pretty excited! Whole Foods at my door? A dream come true -- although I do enjoy their physical customer experience. These are called "good problems."Aside from that, it's just a brilliant move IMO. Solve the grocery dilemma by going to the top. Biggest win-win of the century so far.
  • Posted on: 06/15/2017

    How can grocers capitalize on small brand allure?

    What gets me about this topic is that Whole Foods has been doing this (and many other spot on Millennial traffic drivers) since Day 1. Yet, somehow Wall St. is upset with their brand, probably for not being big enough. But if you look at the details, there's still no large grocer doing what Whole Foods has done from the get go.The "thing" about smaller, local brands is the perception (or reality) of quality. The intense effort of some individuals, vs machines, personally driving the notion of better product is very attractive. Easy to buy into, and I'm not a Millennial.
  • Posted on: 06/14/2017

    Who owns the in-store experience?

    To me, there's got to be a CXO position within retailers today. And they must be empowered. CX is so broad now, so all-encompassing, from media to social to delivery to online to HR to packaging and oh yeah, store, that it cannot possibly be effective under traditional leadership strata. I'd also make the new CXO a digital native, there is no room for us digital immigrants in this new land.Even though it's my background, the LAST group I'd want controlling CX would be merchants. Too focused on the trees to see the forest.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2017

    Can retailers escape the scourge of free shipping?

    Retailers need to pivot to the fact that shipping is free and solve the back side or develop better private label goods. Built-in shipping cost structures have ALWAYS been a part of product development, so why is this different? If it's an issue due to the commodity factor, the manufacturer is also going to have to adapt to the new facts of life or be faced with consumer desertion.Welcome to modern retail: shipping is free, figure it out.
  • Posted on: 06/12/2017

    Is Walmart’s innovation leader right that the AR revolution is a sure thing?

    The main roadblock we're hearing when we talk to consumers is trust. It reminds me a lot of the internet in general 15 - 20 years ago. Especially now that we know that machines get smart and gather history to sell us "other" things. We hear, "I don't want that in my house so it's telling someone else how I think and act!" A lot like you did 15 years ago about giving CC info online. Same with AI.As a tool, it's obviously fantastic, but I think, like the internet in general, it's going to be a long road to full adaption in the center of the bell curve, especially for Walmart customers. As before, look for young people to lead us to that promised land.
  • Posted on: 06/09/2017

    Is IKEA really going to start selling on Amazon’s Marketplace?

    The big negative with IKEA selling online is shipping cost. Shipping is sometimes higher than the cost of the item itself (speaking from personal experience). So perhaps the idea is that someone like Amazon could help them with that from a pure volume perspective. That shipping cost issue is a huge inhibitor, especially since going to a store is not exactly convenient. And if a bigger online fulfillment center can solve that issue, you could see revenue increase dramatically.
  • Posted on: 06/08/2017

    What does it take for retailers to thrive amid shifting consumer preferences?

    To me it's "Act Early." The rule in retail used to be Fast Second, in that you would let someone else find out the hard way whether or not something (anything) worked well. Not anymore. Think of the things AMZN has been first to market with and won big. Today, it's Fail Fast or fail period.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2017

    What will happen to J.Crew without Mickey Drexler as CEO?

    Daunting challenge as the long tail of retail has hit apparel more than any other category since books and music. Given Mr. Brett's background, I would expect the stores to improve in terms of experience for sure, but the bigger challenge today is having to compete with Alexa, not just Banana Republic or Macy's. And that's a wait and see in my mind.End of the day, I would expect J.Crew to be more experiential on the physical side, more connected and relevant on the digital side and oh yeah, a LOT smaller.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2017

    Will virtual reality become the ultimate retail training tool?

    We designed a store a while back and used VR/3D, etc. When it opened, the CEO was asked, "What do you think? Is this what you expected?" And he said, "It's EXACTLY what I expected. I've been walking through this for months already."So to me, if you can train a CEO with VR/3D, you should hopefully have similar great results with new associates. They should know exactly what to expect in terms of the environment they'll be in even when it's loaded with people. That is, until someone asks a crazy question or two. Only real combat experience and situational training (VR or no) can help with the Murphy's Law side of retail. That needs to dovetail with the VR.
  • Posted on: 06/02/2017

    Can Walmart workers deliver better last mile results on their way home from work?

    OMG, in the long run, this is a disaster waiting to happen. The number one law of retail is Murphy's Law. Someone will eventually die in a car crash delivering packages, someone will steal them, someone will spill a drink on them, on and on (just ask UPS). The downsides are endless. And I'm not sure how it actually benefits employees, especially those who have to pick up kids or get dinner or, yeah, on and on.Having said that, I do like the fact that they're at least thinking of truly outside-the-box scenarios. In order to survive retailers will need to "think like Bezos" all the time, not just some of the time, and this fits that bill. It's a little misguided but, from a macro level, nice.

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