Neil Saunders

Managing Director, GlobalData
Neil is Managing Director of GlobalData’s retail division.

In this role he oversees the development of the company’s retail proposition and its research output. He also works with clients to help them understand the retail, shopper and market landscape – advising them on how best to develop, evolve and implement business strategies.

Prior to GlobalData, Neil worked at retail research firm Verdict for ten years. He latterly held the post of board director with responsibility for Consulting, Corporate Development and Planning.

Before Verdict, Neil worked for the John Lewis Partnership where he was involved, among other things, in the planning and relocation of new stores, the development of the ecommerce business, and the creation of technical and information systems.

Before moving to the United States, Neil served as a non-executive board director for the Great Western Railway – a role he held for just under 11 years. He currently serves as an advisory board member for the faculty of business and law at the University of Southampton, as an Honorary Lecturer at the University of New Hampshire, and as a Visiting Fellow at the University of Surrey.

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  • Posted on: 11/20/2017

    Retailers get into Friendsgiving with Millennials

    “If Thanksgiving is the holiday of forced conversation, Friendsgiving is the holiday of laughing so hard that a tiny bit of Brunello squirts out of your nose.”Talk about pretentious! Friendsgiving is a made up term for an age-old tradition of friends celebrating Thanksgiving together before going off to be with family. Sure there are marketing opportunities, but this is not a new thing. Move on please, nothing to see here!
  • Posted on: 11/20/2017

    How open are consumers to AI-driven shopping?

    AI is so embryonic and the concept so nebulous that it is hard for consumers to predict how they might use it in the future.All I would say is that AI will complement existing processes and decision-making rather than replace it entirely.
  • Posted on: 11/20/2017

    Who will be left standing after the next retail shakeout?

    I just don't agree with these at all!Discounting: Macy's is discounting, J.C. Penney is discounting, heck Sears is discounting everything at the moment, yet all of them are doing badly. Nordstrom discounts far less and is doing better; Coach stopped discounting so much and its financials have improved. Value for money and justifying the price are important; discounting per se is not.Convenience: IKEA is not as convenient as it should be, neither is Wegmans. Both do well because they have products people really want and are prepared to travel for.Third Wave: Urban Outfitters and Whole Foods are mentioned, neither are doing that well and have seen sales slide. Not great examples of success!
  • Posted on: 11/17/2017

    Indie retailers can survive – even thrive – during the holidays

    I agree that independent retailers can do well. However, my advice would simply be to be different.If an independent retailer isn't adding any unique value -- whether it be great service, interesting products, special community events or something else -- then it will be forced to compete on price. When you're up against the giant chains, that's a slippery slope.
  • Posted on: 11/17/2017

    Is private label grocery about to go to the next level?

    My view is that it will expand.Private label in the U.S. is still well behind the UK and the reason for that, in my opinion, has been a lack of competitive pressure on the main supermarkets and grocers.A host of reasons means that's now changing and competitive forces dictate that grocers need to differentiate and look to make margin gains. If it is done well, private label delivers on both of these things.Private label also allows for effective range tiering and helps to give customers a good/better/best option across every category. Kroger has always been strong on this and other retailers, like Target, are starting to use private label more effectively in this regard.
  • Posted on: 11/17/2017

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge Global Edition – M&S vs. Sainsbury’s

    M&S's advertisement is excellent. It is humorous and engaging and the use of a much-loved figure like Paddington will resonate with both adults and kids. Admittedly there are no products promoted, but given M&S's status with the British public, they can get away with this.In my opinion, Sainsbury's advert is dreadful, not least because it's annoying and cheesy! However, most importantly, it is unlikely to resonate with Sainsbury's core audience and it doesn't really fit with the company's brand values. To me, it suggests that Sainsbury's has lost its way this Christmas!
  • Posted on: 11/16/2017

    Tech lets gift receivers decide what they get for Christmas

    There are benefits, but the big disbenefit is that the service is impersonal and does not allow for gifts to be wrapped and given in person. That may not put everyone off but for me, it takes some of the fun out of holiday gift buying and giving!
  • Posted on: 11/16/2017

    Amazon Go still plans to transform convenience in retail stores

    Amazon may have taken some time to get this concept to market, but its thinking is still light-years ahead of other grocers and it is actively shaping the store of the future rather than being a passive observer.Will this take off? In some form, I expect it will. Checkout is an inefficient and wasteful part of grocery shopping and anything that reduces friction and cost will be embraced.That said, I don't expect to start seeing this at my local Whole Foods anytime soon. This is a longer-term development and it is still a way off from becoming mainstream.
  • Posted on: 11/16/2017

    Will breakfast at Tiffany’s attract Millennials in search of ‘Instagrammable’ experiences?

    I am sure the cafe will be a success, not least because of the iconic name, the great location and the movie connection.However, I am not convinced that this is sufficient to reconnect younger shoppers with the brand. That requires a reinvention of the offer and a complete rethink of the store environment. Too many Tiffany shops look and feel old-fashioned, while large swathes of the offer just don't resonate with young shoppers. Those are the things that need to be fixed.So this is a step in the right direction but it is not a solution in and of itself.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2017

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Macy’s vs. Nordstrom

    The perfect gifts may well bring people together, but Macy's is far from the perfect place to buy them. That's the problem I have with its marketing: it's completely disconnected from the in-store experience in all but one way: stores are depressing and so is the tone of the advertisement.For my money, the Nordstrom advertisement is better. It feels more upbeat, authentic and in-tune with what the retailer has to offer.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2017

    Will data breach concerns tank Forever 21’s holiday?

    This will likely have some impact, but I don't think it will be dramatic. There have been so many data breaches and issues over recent years that consumers now almost take them for granted.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2017

    Target’s biggest holiday deals are reserved for the weekends

    Limiting deals in this way creates a sense of urgency: buy it now or it may be gone for good. This is sensible and will work if the bargains are genuine and the discounts generous.Not discounting everything at once also gives shoppers a reason to keep visiting Target over the holiday period. Given it struggled with footfall last year this seems like a reasonable way to build traffic.The challenge is that with the rest of the retail sector going discount crazy, Target's message and strategy may not cut through.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2017

    Walmart’s online prices drive customers to its supercenters

    Providing a cheaper price or a discount for picking up an online order in-store makes sense -- after all, it is cheaper for Walmart to fulfill in this way and it gets the potential benefit of incremental sales when the customer collects.However, simply elevating online prices over store prices doesn't seem sensible. It will create confusion and resentment, adds complexity and does not allow Walmart to compete as effectively against the might of Amazon.Of course, the bottom line is under pressure and investors don't like it. But Walmart needs to take a leaf out of Amazon's book and investors need to accept that lower profit is the price of long-term success.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2017

    Retailers need supply chain urgency – now

    I don't think retailers are in denial, but I do believe some are behind the curve when it comes to supply chains. Apathy is not the most significant barrier to change, but cost and complexity are factors that hold back progress.What retailers need to do is create more flexibility across the whole supply chain. Among other things, this means: having a single view of stock so stores can be used as places of shipment or collection; managing the returns process more effectively; reducing lead times, especially in sectors like fashion; allowing for small-batch, more personalized production in some categories; and looking at how to ship direct from manufacturers.Putting all of this in place is an enormous task. Even advanced retailers like Home Depot -- who have done so much work on supply chains -- admit there is a lot more to do.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2017

    Lowe’s and Macy’s join rivals chasing smart home opportunity

    We have conducted quite a bit of research into smart home products and interest among consumers is definitely increasing. However, there are also major barriers to purchase -- including a lack of knowledge about how devices work, concerns over security and confusion about compatibility.There are also many consumers who just don't see the point in having tasks like turning on lights or locking doors automated.All this suggests that education and customer service are critical. These new concepts seem to embrace that, so there is no reason they should not do well.The only caveat is that smart home demand is still far from mainstream. So there is a danger that too many retailers will crowd into this market and some won't fare quite so well as others.

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