PROFILE

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.

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  • Posted on: 06/12/2019

    What does FedEx’s break with Amazon mean?

    I thought the same thing. It will be interesting if/when the backstory surfaces.
  • Posted on: 06/12/2019

    Has Barnes & Noble found its savior(s)?

    Readerlink would seem to be the better play as the company understands the book business and the brand potential. On the other side, private equity ownership will be a far more distant and tactical play. Either way, you gotta love that the potential PE guy is called "Daunt." Hopefully not a harbinger but perhaps apt!
  • Posted on: 06/12/2019

    Kroger is high on the CBD sales opportunity

    CBD is a fad at this point (albeit one that is gaining traction). I'm sensing a potential slow-down as information about unknown efficacy surfaces. Cannabis is a whole other story. I continue to be surprised by the number, and nature, of companies that are prepping cannabis strategies. Clients and industry contacts, some quite conservative, are jumping in, dedicating resources and looking at long-term potential. The cannabis crush is only just beginning.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2019

    Walmart’s checkout pilot puts shoppers in the fast lane

    The other day, a woman struck up a conversation with me at a Neighborhood Market. She was in the self-check (grudgingly) and said it just doesn't feel "right" to her to use it. She said that every time she sees a self-check, she thinks of all the young people who may not have been hired (or could have been let go). It REALLY bugs her and surely she's not alone. I wonder if this presents enough of a perception problem to warrant action.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2019

    Walmart’s checkout pilot puts shoppers in the fast lane

    Scan-and-go is a terrific convenience that is usually well executed at Sam's locations but Walmart is a bit of a different animal. With items from miniature to massive, ensuring that items are scanned could be a challenge. Either way, Walmart should make every effort to speed up adoption and parlay convenience options to other formats/banners. The fast lane concept is another example of Walmart using carrots rather than sticks to shape shopper behavior.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2019

    Will a new mobile app build IKEA’s furniture sales?

    IKEA's mobile shopping capability is quite important, but not necessarily because it will increase sales directly. As IKEA builds out its innovation ecosystem, mobile shopping is a natural add-on and it can't look like a buzz kill when compared to IKEA's other offerings. All of this is very on-brand for IKEA as it reinforces the retailer's impressive balancing act between showing product possibilities and building trust that its products will always deliver. No doubt many competitors are watching as IKEA shows how its done.
  • Posted on: 05/30/2019

    How can retailers help employees improve? (Hint: Not by criticizing them)

    I like the revised definition of "strengths" and "weaknesses" presented in the article. It is far more relevant to newer generations of employees. In the old days, employees were encouraged to go in a straight line and myopically focus on one or two skills. These days, employees have many interests and see many options for their futures. Employers that tap into this multi-faceted, expansive mindset will win and employees will know when it's real or just lip service.
  • Posted on: 05/30/2019

    Abercrombie & Fitch CEO says ‘stores matter’ – particularly the smaller ones

    Abercrombie has had many lives and hopefully the changes it is making will add one more. The most encouraging sign is that Abercrombie seems to be eating its spinach rather than going off on flights of fancy. The move toward smaller format stores in greater numbers makes sense (although "smaller, more omnichannel" made me chuckle for some reason). However, Abercrombie shouldn't overlook the importance of making a bigger brand statement through flagship locations. Hopefully those won't be taken out of the equation because at the end of the day, the brand is an important differentiator that drives online possibilities and mitigates price resistance.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2019

    Target turns to advertising opportunities as its core retail business thrives

    Target's creation of Roundel is the latest validation that retailers are no longer just places that sell stuff, they are evolving into multi-faceted platforms. Target is making a move to monetize its platform but considering its history of groovy marketing and bent toward ownership, it's surprisingly late to the party. Regardless, Target will benefit mightily from the partnerships it forges, collecting ad dollars and data. The benefits of doing business with Target will extend far beyond shelf placement (physical and digital). Many more eyeballs across many more touch points.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2019

    Do the benefits of using facial recognition in retail outweigh the risks?

    It takes a special kind of guy to admit he has RBF - ha!
  • Posted on: 05/24/2019

    Do the benefits of using facial recognition in retail outweigh the risks?

    The problem with facial recognition isn't so much that a camera might identify how thirsty I am walking by a cooler. Have at it. The problem is that the technology can be refined via retail but will not stay contained within retail. When retailers adopt these types of innovations, the assumption is that they are cooking them up themselves. The reality is that they are partnering with third parties that have a vested interest in expanding the technology across many industries, and for many purposes. Amazon is going after facial recognition, and not because it dreams of a day when my facial expressions will determine my level of interest in an algorithmic recommendation. Amazon is courting (and has already won) government contracts. The ability to identify a single face in a crowd. That type of thing. Focusing on the trees ignores the forest.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2019

    Questions abound about the value of net promoter scores

    NPS is a ridiculous standard (cue rant), not only because it assumes a universal metric but also because it doesn't take into consideration that some people aren't rampant recommenders and some categories are less recommendable than others. It has nothing to do with actual quality of product, brand or experience. I take the universal NPS question literally (and surely I'm not the only one). As in, would I literally recommend a specific brand of pain reliever to someone? No. That's not something I would ever do. I've had companies contact me to ask why I gave them a low NPS score. It's because I literally would never recommend that offering to someone even though I had a good experience, liked the product, etc. It didn't fall into a category that I could see myself recommending. NPS is not the Holy Grail. Okay, rant over.
  • Posted on: 05/23/2019

    Are retail HQs and stores suffering a communication breakdown?

    To be fair, retail operations have become tremendously complex, particularly as bricks and clicks converge. On one hand, retailers are armed with better data and have better tools to act upon it. On the other, people-powered processes aren't as cut and dried and BYOD adds yet more complexity and more variables that can muck up the works. Communication between HQ, store management and store associates can seem like a game of telephone in this environment. From an organization standpoint, retailers continue to streamline and reduce the number of "middle messengers." I speak with a lot of tech/solution providers and have noticed a considerable uptick in those that focus on retailer communications platforms, including training and content delivery from HQ to associates. This makes sense as retailers swing attention back to store-level execution. I'm confident that the tools are "out there," it's just a matter of choosing wisely and working out the bugs.
  • Posted on: 05/21/2019

    Will an online deal with Fanatics prove to be a big win for Kohl’s?

    Another move toward marketplace mania! Retail's favorite scale-building play is in full swing. Fanatics can quickly scale through platform partnerships with established players. Kohl's diversifies by building out its online marketplace. Lather, rinse, repeat. The good news for both companies is that Kohl's is relatively selective about its online marketplace partnerships rather than taking all comers. Kohl's also isn't treating its marketplace as a passive play - it's dead serious about becoming a digital destination.
  • Posted on: 05/14/2019

    Lands’ End is looking to get out of Sears like a bat out of hell

    Lands' End still enjoys incredible customer loyalty but other players in the sensible basics space, like Duluth Trading, are ramping up. Lands' End is smart to go the owned retail route. It's the best way to showcase its arrays of styles and colorways. For Lands' End, multiple purchases are the secret sauce and brick-and-mortar is the key ingredient.

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