Carol Spieckerman

President, Spieckerman Retail

Consistently named a top retail influencer, Carol Spieckerman is a recognized authority on retail and brand strategy. She launched Spieckerman Retail in 2000 in the wake of a career building multi-million-dollar businesses from the ground up. Her platform positioning workshops help retail-reliant companies accelerate B2B business development and increase thought leadership. As an advisor, Carol builds communications strategies that drive awareness, engagement, and action. She speaks at corporate and industry events on her latest Retail Trajectories – proprietary calls to action that transcend trend across categories, borders, business models, and touchpoints. Carol is passionate about making complex subjects easy to understand, solving tough retail positioning and business development challenges, and aligning companies with where retail is going next. You can find her thought leadership in leading business and retail publications including Reuters, Forbes, Grocery Dive, WWD, and Retail Wire and in her podcast, Spieckerman Speaks Retail. Carol also serves as a speaker and content provider to leading trade groups.

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  • Posted on: 10/12/2021

    Rather than compete, Walmart inks exclusive deal with Netflix

    At this point Walmart's partnership with Netflix doesn't appear to be an alternative to competing with Netflix, it is a merchandising deal, not dissimilar to Walmart's hookup with Gap for home products. It sounds like content could come into play at some point but that is also true for many entertainment licensing programs. More than anything, the partnership signals Netflix' intention to expand beyond content and diversify by harnessing its growing fan base(s). Netflix gains new revenue through a massive global retailer and insights into which properties are most viable for merchandise. Walmart gains relevance with highly-engaged Netflix fans who will likely hop off the hub to make additional purchases with Walmart.
  • Posted on: 10/05/2021

    Is consumer-direct less profitable for brands than selling wholesale?

    Like a lot of things in retail, it depends. Wholesale relationships can be a risky rollercoaster ride for brands when retailers play high-low games or push private brand portfolios to the limit. Even so, wholesale relationships can make a lot of sense now as supply chain snags and worker shortages disproportionately impact smaller players. Big retailers have the scale and influence to navigate these challenges. DTC success can't be flipped on like a light switch. It takes time and commitment for DTC initiatives to earn their keep. Regardless, brands that operate multiple business models and lean into diversification are better positioned all around.
  • Posted on: 10/05/2021

    Has Walmart put a bullseye on Cat & Jack with its new Free Assembly Kids line?

    It seems that the word "fashion," when associated with Walmart, garners a backlash. Let's just say that it's high time Walmart revisited its apparel proposition beyond athleisure and basics and across multiple size ranges. The best news is that Walmart appears to be going for depth and presence with Free Assembly rather than spot treating its apparel opportunity with niche brands. Walmart's apparel and accessories businesses already generate mind-blowing numbers, often seemingly by accident. Now it's time to find out how much better it can be.
  • Posted on: 08/25/2021

    Do new Shipt and Walmart programs signal big changes to come in the retail delivery market?

    The two announcements are quite different as Shipt is offering an enhancement to its existing program targeted to shoppers and Walmart is launching an entirely new one as a B2B-focused platform monetization play. Both confirm that services and solutions are a major retail growth opportunity and continuous improvement and ongoing iteration will be the norm.
  • Posted on: 08/24/2021

    Home Depot turns off thieves’ power to use or sell stolen tools

    Desperate times call for desperate measures. When I speak with loss prevention professionals, I'm always astounded at the level of sophistication and just pure daring that theft rings exhibit. It is relentless and ever-changing. Preventing loss is one side of the story but retailers don't want to place store associates in policing roles either. I'm not sure how one would activate a designer purse at purchase yet the tool solution would no doubt work for other gadgets and small appliances. Will this work in an e-commerce scenario? Coordinated digital theft is already a thing and clamp-downs in brick-and-mortar could have the effect of just changing the (theft) channel.
  • Posted on: 08/19/2021

    Do downtown shopping districts need their own loyalty programs?

    The concept of district-as-brand is a great way to help local businesses build bridges between experiences and shopping. The same holds true for lifestyle centers and other retail developments. Companies like SnowShoe take things up a notch by quantifying engagement and building loyalty in a way that a traditional visitors bureau can't. This kind of next-level loyalty building is emerging as one of the more exciting areas of retail right now.
  • Posted on: 08/19/2021

    Has Target ‘only begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible’ for its business?

    I don't think it's hyperbole to say that Target has executed one of the most impressive turnarounds in retail. Even so, following Amazon and Walmart's examples by building out additional solutions and services (financial services, healthcare, etc.) presents tremendous upside. Target has made major strides in its grocery business, especially considering its traditional strength in softlines. Getting serious about grocery click-and-collect and exploring delivery are logical next steps. Target began making major strides when it departed from its insular past and embraced partnerships that extended beyond designer collaborations. Focusing on operational excellence and acknowledging that not everything can be home-grown have really paid off.
  • 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.

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