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: 02/27/2017

    Will irrational shipping prices doom brick and mortar stores?

    There are two keys to this: 1) in partnership with your manufacturers, you've got to build shipping costs into the cost of the goods. As a former merchant, I can tell you, that's been the case for just about everything you've bought since before the Revolutionary War, why would that change? Stop showing your customers extra costs. And 2) you have to have as much private label as possible to make that work -- selling commodity goods is going to be Amazon's game; get over it and drive your PL strategy fast, the Huns are at the gate.
  • Posted on: 02/24/2017

    Is Amazon’s Alexa a threat to rival retailers?

    That's an easy question. Answer: a big "hell yeah!" Having a personal assistant help you do whatever it is you need (including buy whatever it is you need) in five million homes -- are you kidding? If that doesn't put a cold shiver down your spine as a retailer, I don't know what will. That's like being 20 yards behind Usain Bolt; hard enough to beat him straight up!This proves again that Amazon is just so far ahead of the rest of the retail pack. We're about to see massive store closings and major corporate restructurings because of it. Oh yeah, and potentially the first trillion-dollar retailer in history.
  • Posted on: 02/21/2017

    Will acquisition of a mom and pop shop pay off big for Kroger?

    Starbucks bought La Boulange and it paid off. Their pastries and food offerings in general are much better. Key is, can Kroger proliferate that knowledge to 2800 stores the way SBUX did? Not sure, IMO, as they're as organized as SBUX from that perspective since they are structured regionally for many aspects of their business.
  • Posted on: 02/17/2017

    Will Costco, Kohl’s, Target, et al give Google Home an edge over Amazon’s Echo?

    AI is a game-changer for retail. To be able to tell a machine to order something for you on the spot vs. making a list is key, but more importantly, just to be able to ask questions on the fly is even bigger. A change in lifestyle more so than retail, but retail is definitely a part of that.Re: Kohl's, Costco and Target giving Google an edge ... I'd first have to ask, are they giving themselves an edge vs. Amazon right now? So a resounding no, in my opinion, to both questions.
  • Posted on: 02/15/2017

    Is Amazon the most innovative company in retailing?

    How about "easily" the most innovative retailer? The real question is, are they the most innovative company, period? Consider Tesla, Virgin, Uber, Google, etc. They're in that conversation more so than the retail mix. In any case, while most retailers were focused on logistics, real estate and procurement, Amazon was bold enough to think of a customer's life and what would make it easier, simpler, better. Hence Echo, Dash, one-hour delivery, drones, etc. It seems like bold thinking, but it's actually old school -- they just acted on that premise in a modern way.Amazon is a runaway train that's on a track with no obstacles. And the flip side is, Warren Buffet dumped all his Walmart stock yesterday. $900 million worth. 'Nuf said.
  • Posted on: 02/13/2017

    How price competitive does Whole Foods need to be?

    Warren Buffet once said, "price is what you pay, value is what you get," and I think most American consumers don't really understand that. That's why there's such a thing as a "value meal" for 99 cents that's absolute junk -- and it sells! Excellent, healthy food is key to helping us solve our obesity and sickness woes and Whole Foods is the #1 purveyor of said product. However, the challenge WFMI faces in terms of perception is real, especially when it comes to the average American consumer. But in my mind, it's more about education than it is about price. They may have reached the limit in terms of how far they can push their concept into the mainstream until that is solved.Besides, it's not only price for Whole Foods. In some of their largest markets, like California and Colorado, the consumer is potentially a 4th generation health food eater. To them, Whole Foods is like a traditional grocer -- so they've migrated on to much more intense competitors that take health food to a level beyond where they are. The combo of the two aforementioned problems is the issue for Whole Foods. It's not an easy solve, but one I feel they will overcome. They're just too good not to turn it around.
  • Posted on: 02/08/2017

    When will sustainable fashion go mainstream?

    Seems like an oxymoron to me. The very thought/idea of fashion is something that is perfect RIGHT NOW and anything sustainable is, well, the opposite. And besides, don't we already have Goodwill, used clothing stores, flea markets, garage sales and even hand-me-downs as well-established purveyors of the American "clothing forever" syndrome? Just kidding (a little).In all seriousness though, it seems like a marketing ploy to me. The real deal is to get customers to focus on quality vs. price so they stop buying so much crap they're only going to get rid of in a few months. Oh yeah, and then sell it to a used clothing store.
  • Posted on: 02/07/2017

    Will consumers buy a new vision for Abercrombie & Fitch?

    The factor that A&F has going for it over the other casual apparel retailers is that they actually have a brand. Now, whether or not you like/liked that brand is besides the point, because the "it" factor that separated A&F from its copy cats (American Eagle, Aeropostale) held sway for a long time. And that kind of thing doesn't just go away.The trick for the new brand masters of A&F now is to temper that great base for a new generation, the way that Ralph Lauren has done, and bring back some of it's sassy relevance. It's more than just the store, but the store is a key touchpoint to hit on that road back. Will it "solve" their immediate woes? Maybe a little, but it will take time.To me, the ingredient most needed to re-accentuate for A&F is the youthful irreverence of their great brand. Think lifestyle, not just product or place Ps. Think the positioning P. Whether you're a digital native or a child of the '90s, NOT being like your parents is a "forever" part of anyone's life. A&F once had that in spades. Re-kindling that essence in a 21st century way is the motor they need.
  • Posted on: 02/06/2017

    Can augmented reality solve the virtual dressing room problem?

    Okay, this is how I can tell I'm still a digital immigrant: I just don't get VR for retail. Using it to try something on? Really? I'd MUCH rather just order it online and send it back if it doesn't fit. I'm an expert now at sending things back, mostly because retailers (out of necessity) have made it so easy.Do we think that maybe if the stores were more inviting and interesting and the sales associates were awesome that we'd want to go to the store (more often) to try things on? I'm just saying: blocking and tackling vs whiz bang -- works every time.
  • Posted on: 02/03/2017

    Why do so few shoppers think of BOPIS as a ‘smooth’ process?

    We did a study on BOPIS three years ago and what customers really wanted was to pull up in front of the store and have someone put their online purchase in their trunk, by FAR, vs any other method. In other words, not go into the store. We did a similar study this year to see how things have changed, and guess what? They haven't. People still want BOPIS drive up more than any other method.So, if you're looking for a reason why it's not going smoothly, start there: it's not being done right (except in the tests Walmart is doing).
  • Posted on: 02/02/2017

    Will retailers beat back the border adjustable tax?

    You're going to see some powerful lobbying groups gear up against this. For one, BAT would pretty much put Walmart and Target, two of the largest employers in the US, out of business. And any specialty apparel company, of which there are many, are in the same boat.Side note: you just can't start making things here in the US on the turn of a dime, or a decade for that matter; piece goods, hi-tech manufacturing plants, labor costs, on and on, are not things you develop overnight. If you think that, you're living in a dream world. We need to move on to NEW manufacturing, like the Tesla plants (who can't meet demand) vs regressing to 1965.
  • Posted on: 02/01/2017

    Has Amazon fundamentally changed the way Americans shop?

    Amazon has drastically altered the way we shop for sure, but the real "get" here is that they continue to do so (see also: Alexa/Echo/Dash). What makes them different is their fail-fast mentality but, more importantly, they think about EVERY facet of their customer's life, not just their own operations.Most retailers spent decades focusing internally on procurement, logistics, real estate and other operational techniques until Amazon showed up. Most paid only lip service to making the lives of their customers better through ad campaigns and slogans vs. reality. Now they're caught in a game of catch-up, which is the equivalent of trying to catch Usain Bolt when you're 20 yards behind!I believe this is going to be the Amazon century. This is only the beginning.
  • Posted on: 01/31/2017

    Will free two-day shipping give Walmart an edge over Amazon?

    The free shipping gives Walmart an edge over other brick-and-mortar retailers, like Target, but Amazon has Alexa which trumps any mere shipping ploy. Think of it: Amazon has someone in at least 5 million homes taking commands on purchases and then giving other pieces of "advice" that will actually help people's lives. And wait until they sell 20 million more of them! THAT is an edge.It's a good move, but it's not an Amazon-esque move.
  • Posted on: 01/30/2017

    Walmart balances motivation across pay levels

    If they're looking for new blood in the stores or in headquarters, this is a great move. Or if they do a good job of placating tenured employees, it won't matter as much internally. It's also a good move to attract BETTER talent in my opinion.I think it's a good move. Having better talent at store-level and perhaps more digital natives on board as a whole is only going to make Walmart more competitive in the long run.
  • Posted on: 01/27/2017

    Will drop shipping online orders deliver results for retailers?

    I think you're just asking for it by having outside parties deal directly with your customers. If something goes wrong YOU get the blame, not the vendor. That happens with Amazon all the time and we've come to expect it, and I'm sure that's where this direction is coming from (if Amazon does it, why can't we?) -- it's all about not having inventory on-hand.But when it comes to brand perception, I'd want control over that last contact with my customer. It may be "OK" for Amazon because they sell everything from batteries and shoe laces to TVs and cars, but for the rest of us more specialized sellers, that seems like risky business to me.

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