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: 07/26/2021

    Macy’s should have stayed local

    I love a good deep dive into retail history, so thanks for that, Lee! The Federated/May merger was part of a larger consolidated movement in retail at the time. Department stores in particular began to realize just how convoluted and inefficient their models were thanks to Walmart. Federated caught a lot of flack at the time for crowning Macy's as its master brand, yet the current wisdom was to merge and purge. These days, maintaining local banners post-acquisition is the rule because retailers (and developers) have the tools to manage multiple banners without compromising efficiency. Many of the local banners that Federated/May shuttered were already struggling. I doubt that most would have succeeded as separate banners. Macy's biggest post-merger mistake was to dive down into the meh middle of retail. The Macy's brand has had to do a lot of heavy lifting over the years and competing with multiple mid-tier department stores made it a real slog.
  • Posted on: 07/21/2021

    Will a new private label be a good fit for Macy’s customers?

    Private brands make sense for Macy's. The rub is that Amazon is churning them out in record numbers and other retailers are rushing back to private brands to drive differentiation and plump up margins. In other words, Macy's may have to move mountains to direct attention to its latest launch. At this point, it is a no-harm-no-foul proposition.
  • Posted on: 07/20/2021

    Victoria’s Secret is moving out of the mall

    Given Victoria's Secret's dramatic brand promise shift toward women's empowerment, job one is to reinforce that message in its brick-and-mortar stores, wherever they are located. The company would be wise to focus on implementing diverse hiring standards and from there, to ensure that everyone from girly girls to tomboys, and of all shapes and sizes, feel at home in its stores. It's a tall order yet stores are where the company can clearly articulate that it isn't your mom's Victoria's Secret. BOPIS, ship-from-store, retail-tainment, services -- all will no doubt be in the mix at some point. For now, getting the story straight and keeping it consistent should be the primary focus.
  • Posted on: 07/19/2021

    Is the Walmart/Justice tie-up a harbinger of more retailer brand partnerships?

    It's great to see Walmart giving apparel and fashion some love in advance of BTS and the holiday shopping season. Key will be ensuring that product development and brand positioning carry on Justice's promise without getting watered down. As massive as Walmart's apparel business is, pondering just how good it could be, especially as shoppers return to stores, is a worthwhile exercise. Walmart is obviously on a roll here with its private brand revamps and recent partnerships. The Justice hookup by no means marks the end of Walmart's opportunistic brand adventures. Retailers have a real opportunity to revive struggling, high-equity brands before they get musty. Walmart, Kohl's, Simon Properties, and others are wisely taking full advantage.
  • Posted on: 07/16/2021

    Walmart exec says robots will seriously speed up DC-to-store supply chain ops

    It was only a matter of time before Walmart jumped on the robotics wave, and it looks like it has taken a thoughtful approach to getting it right. The "new skills" piece jumped out at me as it signals a massive retraining effort that will set a new standard across retail. Given its scale, Walmart will potentially raise the associate skill bar across retail to the ultimate benefit of its competitors. It will also allow Walmart to compete head-to-head with Amazon for retail talent. As is usually the case with Walmart, this is one move with enumerable benefits.
  • Posted on: 07/16/2021

    Has Authentic Brands Group created a new brand-building model?

    I've followed Authentic Brands closely as "one to watch." Authentic Brands is reinventing traditional licensing by clearly delineating licensor/licensee accountabilities, taking a hands-on approach to marketing, particularly digital marketing, and mitigating risk by acquiring brands that already have deals in the pipeline. Moreover, Authentic Brands is offering plug-and-play brand portfolios to new brand power brokers like Simon Properties. No more speculative, one-off deals and rolling the dice on retailer interest. This allows retailers, and now developers, to get up and running quickly and provides even more reassurance to potential licensees. Authentic Brands is also not shying away from retail/wholesale hybrid acquisitions like Lucky Brand, providing additional reach and relevance to the company. Past attempts at building licensing power houses have crumbled (see: Liz Claiborne) or struggled (Iconix) for a number of reasons that Authentic Brands is remedying. It's a great model and one that others will no doubt attempt to follow.
  • Posted on: 07/15/2021

    Bed Bath & Beyond adds off-hour pickups and speedier fulfillment to its ‘omni-always’ suite

    I don't know that Bed Bath & Beyond's offerings create the kind of urgency that the company is addressing. Even so, convenience and choice are inextricably linked in retail these days so Bed Bath & Beyond is on the right track overall. The company's recent moves make more sense under its new leadership as assortments are standardized and new private brands gain traction. On recent visits, I did notice quite a bit of "air" and out-of-stocks so hopefully the stores aren't robbing shelves in order to fulfill online orders. Either way, Bed Bath & Beyond is making bold moves that, once the bugs are worked out, make it more competitive.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2021

    Will ‘Scan & Ship’ give Sam’s a leg up on club competition?

    Sam's latest move makes all kinds of sense because it fills two huge gaps: awareness and adoption. Sam's is taking a hands-on approach to introducing members to the Scan & Ship capability and clearly outlining benefits and processes for adoption within the store environment. Sounds simple enough yet many retailers, and Sam's in particular, have a history of launching all kinds of capabilities without thinking through how shoppers will find out about them and how to incentivize adoption. Facilitating the transport of the bulky items that Sam's is known for will motivate members to make purchases, regardless of their heft, and the program also drives awareness for items that might otherwise get buried in Sam's digital aisles. Nice move.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2021

    Can a Tesco exec school Amazon on physical retail?

    One of Tesco's often-overlooked advantages is its leadership in multi-format retail. Mr. Hoggett's charter at Amazon should worry competitors as it signals a clear intention to not only expand Amazon's brick-and-mortar fleet, but to do so with multiple innovative formats. Amazon moves fast. This will be interesting.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2021

    Nordstrom and Asos say joint venture is a game-changer

    Plug-and-play portfolio partnerships are the wave of the future. Nordstrom's latest move, like Simon Properties' hookup with Authentic Brands, ensures a fresh, multi-brand, multi-demographic infusion that obviates the need for Nordstrom to negotiate individual brand deals. Nordstrom decided to go the partial ownership route, opening the possibility that Asos' brands may eventually morph into Nordstrom owned brands. This is such a smart and aware move on Nordstrom's part - to acknowledge that traditional private brands and incremental brand deals won't cut it when it comes to appealing to new generations of shoppers.
  • Posted on: 07/09/2021

    Retailers still have a COVID-19 problem

    I continue to be surprised (and confused) by retailers and service providers that post signs asking unvaccinated patrons to mask up, yet all employees are mask-less. Retailers must set an example if they want others to follow.
  • Posted on: 07/08/2021

    Could Dollar General become a go-to healthcare resource in rural America?

    Never underestimate Dollar General. The king of dollar stores has methodically spread its wings over the years even as it has flown under the radar. Dollar General continues to kill with convenience by running contrary to industry norms (tens of thousands of brick-and-mortar locations). It's only logical that Dollar General would leverage its locations to bring healthcare products and services to its otherwise underserved customers. I'll say it again, business model diversification is the growth driver of retail's future. Health and wellness is emerging as a top vehicle.
  • Posted on: 06/29/2021

    Tractor Supply gets Millennials who say goodbye to city life

    Yes! More than anything, Walmart has done a great job of expanding its core through mutually-reinforcing technologies, solutions, and services. L.L.Bean has as well (with awesome storytelling thrown in for good measure) and the company still enjoys enviable customer loyalty. Isn't it great to have more than a couple of examples of retailers that are expanding without flailing?
  • Posted on: 06/29/2021

    Will a Target-themed Monopoly game be a winner?

    Target is one retailer that can pull this off. Name recognition is only one factor, brand affinity is what makes these deals viable. More interesting is the uptick in retailer-branded licensing activity including Gap's recent home goods play with Walmart. Clearly, retailers are spreading their wings once again and making bets on their brand equity.
  • Posted on: 06/29/2021

    Will baristas crack under Starbucks’ mobile ordering pressure?

    Starbucks' bespoke beverage model is at odds with mobile ordering, pure and simple. That said, only Starbucks knows whether complexity and high expectations are hurting its business or whether they are just a speed bump in the scheme of things. Either way, demoralized employees and teed-off customers aren't a sustainable combination. Starbucks is going to have to simplify its mobile menu or at least provide incentives for its customers to pare things down.

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