Carol Spieckerman

President, Spieckerman Retail

Carol Spieckerman is an internationally-recognized authority on retail and brand positioning. She specializes in future-proofing her clients’ retail strategies and positioning them for high-volume success with key retail decision-makers and influencers.  As president and CEO of Spieckerman Retail, she tracks Retail TrajectoriesSM that cut across categories, tiers, environments and borders and transforms them into actionable strategies for her brand marketing, agency, licensing, and technology clients. Carol is an author and regular contributor to leading retail and business media. Her credits include the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Forbes, Dealerscope, Women’s Wear Daily, Bloomberg Business Week, Private Label Buyer and Retail Wire. Carol speaks at corporate and industry events around the world including the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the International Licensing Expo. Her blog, The Right Brain of Retail, is considered a “must-read” by major retailers, brands and suppliers and her retail insights are prominent on Twitter @retailxpert.

  • Posted on: 04/24/2019

    Will Foot Locker’s NYC Power Store play ball with Nike?

    Foot Locker and Nike can absolutely co-exist and could even be considered complementary. Anchored by the two flagships, sneakerheads can embark on an experiential adventure in Manhattan. It's all good. As much buzz as small format stores receive, flagship stores have never been more relevant. They drive brand awareness and represent the full expression of a corporate brand. From there, shoppers can continue the relationship through digital or various brands' wholesale distribution. One of my long-lasting Retail Trajectories is that "brand ubiquity is the new exclusivity." Nike and Foot Locker are embracing this concept wholeheartedly.
  • Posted on: 04/24/2019

    Kohl’s goes all-in on Amazon returns

    I've spoken to several retailer executives since the Amazon returns program launched, all of whom predicted that it would quietly fold. The main takeaway is that Kohl's, under Ms. Gass' leadership, is exhibiting the kind of agility and broad thinking that is required in today's retail environment. Going back to the Amazon relationship, pulling back on the pop-up shops and doubling down on the returns counter sounds like the right direction overall. Amazon is more of a complementary business under this model and can continue to be, as Amazon carries all kinds of categories that are not core to Kohl's business.
  • Posted on: 04/23/2019

    Are secondhand sales the right branding move for Neiman Marcus?

    Much like it's partnership with Rent the Runway, Neiman Marcus is wisely spreading its tentacles through alliances and minor investments. Neiman Marcus is a glaring example of a retailer that faces an existential threat from generational irrelevance. The bright side is that Neiman's is doing something about it without attempting to build everything in house. Its investments in re-commerce, rentals and other alternative models demonstrate Neiman Marcus' determination to win, even if it means playing a long game.
  • Posted on: 04/16/2019

    Hubert Joly: New Best Buy CEO has the right stuff to lead chain to new heights

    Hubert Joly's tenure at Best Buy has been nothing short of impressive. Best Buy's executive transition proves that Best Buy has a multi-stage plan across its entire enterprise. Mr. Joly will still be on board to ensure continuity while Ms. Barry is allowed to make her mark. Exciting times ahead for Best Buy.
  • Posted on: 04/12/2019

    Why consumers are breaking bonds with their favorite brands

    Digitally native brands may have a more relevant, Millennial-resonant story to tell but they also possess reams of robust user data. As such, it's far easier for these brands to enter traditional retail environments (brick-and-mortar) through their own branded stores or via partnership, than it is for traditional brands to build digital strategies. Many legacy brands' business models also rely heavily on category expansion and line extensions for growth. Before you know it, they are cannibalizing their own brand and product portfolios (or those of their mega-corporate owners). Digitally-native brands tend to be more focused. It isn't always about old school vs. new school. It's the fundamentals.
  • Posted on: 04/10/2019

    Madewell is on the way up, J.Crew is not

    Introducing complementary, cool-factor brands into the J.Crew environment was a step in the right direction a few years ago but perhaps didn't go far enough. A name change may be in order. Eponymous brands bear a lot of weight as Gap, Coach, Liz Claiborne and others have learned. Creating a new corporate moniker would allow the company to make strategic acquisitions, operate as a true portfolio company and yes, shed the J. Crew brand if warranted. The impact of Amazon's own private brand-palooza can't be underestimated. J.Crew's attempt to float alternative brands in the Amazon "jumble" proves the point. Light duty won't work. In the meantime, Mickey Drexler's heavy hands aren't helping the situation.
  • Posted on: 04/09/2019

    Retailers and brands become best of frenemies with Amazon

    One of my top retail trajectories is "ubiquity is the new exclusivity" - that is, brands (including retailers) can no longer afford to limit their options or enter into agreements that curtail reach. Being many places is the only way to stay top-of-mind and online marketplaces are the logical large-scale move. Through marketplaces, retailers can monetize the digital platforms they've invested in so heavily and/or can pop their owned brands on others' marketplaces with relative impunity. However, if this marketplace madness continues, brands (again, retailers included) will risk over-exposure and retailers will stand for nothing as third-party marketplaces morph into opportunistic online bazaars. Some brand marketers are beginning to create brands specifically for marketplace distribution. That seems like a wise way to play the game for now.
  • Posted on: 04/03/2019

    Okay Google, how can you help grow Walmart’s online grocery business?

    Walmart is smart to jump in on voice ordering capabilities and to partner with a widely-used platform to make it happen. The key to adoption will be two-fold: getting the word out/driving awareness and succinctly articulating ease of use. As Walmart attacks convenience on every front, clearly delineating benefits will become more important.
  • Posted on: 03/29/2019

    The Apple Card is the best thing to happen to Apple since the iPhone

    This is a neat synopsis of the mutual benefits of one of Apple's big business model shifts. The premise guiding Apple's business for years has been to show the customer what they will want in the future rather than asking what they want now. The Apple Card and other recent moves mark a larger shift toward proactive customer-centricity. Apple is no longer tethered to its latest iPhone iteration. Now, it is complementing future-seeking gadget development with services that cultivate customers' confidence in having a long-term relationship with the Apple brand across multiple touch points. Apple really stands out by getting ahead of inevitable privacy crack-downs. What a super smart path Apple is clearing!
  • Posted on: 03/15/2019

    Pets rule the retail roost

    The spending on pets is so similar to spending on kids that many kids products companies think of pet products as a natural extension. After all, once products pass all of the regulatory and quality hurdles required for kids, they are good to go with pets. Personally, I can confidently forecast a sizable uptick in my pet spending this year after adding a perfect senior rescue dog to my pack a couple of months ago!
  • Posted on: 03/15/2019

    Will Walmart’s new tablet burn into Amazon Fire’s market share?

    To view Walmart’s entry into the tablet market simply as a literal attempt to grab gadget sales misses the point. Just as Amazon’s stable of devices are gateways to its e-commerce, entertainment and service ecosystem, Walmart tablets may serve the same purpose. Walmart can pre-load any number of Walmart-friendly apps onto the devices that encourage shoppers to expand their relationship with Walmart. At the same time, private brands aren’t as prevalent in consumer electronics as they are in grocery, apparel, home and other categories so Walmart does have an opportunity to offer value. In general, Walmart is smart to swing attention back to consumer electronics once again. It’s an exciting category that never sleeps so retailers have to stay on their games if they are going to play.
  • Posted on: 03/14/2019

    Will customer hosts raise the shopping experience bar at Walmart?

    Walmart is the master of harnessing people power and the new host positions have the potential to fill in multiple store experience gaps. It's tempting to correlate the move with Walmart's decision to get rid of greeters. The two positions are apples and oranges, but forums are lighting up with pro-greeter protests nonetheless. The greeter fury will blow over but Walmart would be wise to closely monitor the host positions and ensure that they bring a demonstrable and memorable value to customers shopping in Walmart stores. Walmart needs a win from its latest high-touch transition.
  • Posted on: 03/14/2019

    Will an IPO help Levi’s conquer the world?

    The denim market is highly competitive and arguably over-saturated at this point. At the same time, it is an evergreen business with plenty of dollars to go around. One of the biggest challenges facing denim brands is strategic (and that usually means slow) expansion into non-denim categories and the need to constantly monitor assortments to mitigate cannibalization. Levi's is better positioned for long-term success than many upstart brands because it has already tested the waters with various SKU, category, channel and business model expansion strategies. Levi's has done a great job of segmenting its business to ensure the brand's presence in good, better and best tiers, sometimes within the same retailers. Levi's will make good use of the cash infusion because it has already fine-tuned the basics.
  • Posted on: 03/13/2019

    Does new retail need a new prototype?

    The idea of designing through flexible modules is intriguing. For a few nail-biting retail minutes, retailers didn't seem to know what to do with all those stores. Thankfully, the potential to modify and utilize kicked in and many have done an admirable job of refining existing locations and embracing a test-and-learn mindset. Stores of all sizes are teeming with experiments and retailers are finally in a position to harness the data being collected (often thanks to third-party partnerships). Are retailers well positioned to manage and modify fleets dominated by "anomalies"? Will this delay the perceived need for an entirely new model?
  • Posted on: 03/13/2019

    Will ending its price parity rule take the antitrust heat off Amazon?

    I'll say it again, regulations haven't caught up with (digital) realities. Amazon needed to throw a bone here in order to get the spotlight off, if only temporarily. As a global operator, anti-Amazon momentum can build quickly as countries with tighter anti-competitive and privacy controls amp up scrutiny, which in turn draws attention to the U.S.'s more lax standards. None of it good for Amazon.

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