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: 02/12/2019

    Barneys to become first major retailer to open legal weed shop

    Why shouldn't Barneys capitalize on the cannabis craze? You could argue that they would be remiss to sit it out. Barneys' high-end, paraphernalia will appeal to well-heeled shoppers who enjoy high times, especially for gift-giving. Barneys Bongs has a ring to it, amirite?
  • Posted on: 02/12/2019

    Will Marie Kondo de-clutter retail?

    The second wave of fascination with KonMari and all things Marie seems to be a case of "always right, sometimes early." When the book first came out, it caught fire as a kind of dare. How-to videos popped up everywhere as women tried to wrap their heads around Ms. Kondo's methods. In the meantime, tiny homes and other minimalist movements gained traction and along came the Netflix series. Brilliant timing on Ms. Kondo's part and one can't help but speculate that Kondo-endorsed products are on the way. But only ones that spark joy (of course).
  • Posted on: 02/12/2019

    Is Allswell with Walmart’s tiny house tour?

    Walmart's tiny road show is a great way to drive awareness for Allswell but all of the groovy marketing in the world won't matter if customers don't dig the product. Fortunately for Walmart, reviews for Allswell are consistently in the 4+ range so the tour backs up demand. The notation, "sold and shipped by Hayneedle" pops up on some, but not all, of the Allswell mattress descriptions on Walmart.com. It will be interesting to see how Walmart continues to flex its acquisitions to make these types of brand pull-outs happen.
  • Posted on: 02/11/2019

    Foot Locker makes $100M leap into the sneaker re-seller space

    Foot Locker's investment in GOAT is bold and sensible at the same time. It's a perfect complement to Foot Locker's core business as it layers novelty and sneakerhead fandom onto an increasingly commoditized category. Foot Locker is wisely hitting the ground running with the concept by leveraging its extensive physical presence to build scale. The deal is a perfect example of when integration makes more sense than discretion.
  • Posted on: 02/06/2019

    What will Angela Ahrendts’ departure mean for Apple’s retail business?

    Angela Ahrendts was a big get but she also was a very big ticket. No doubt she ignited some new thinking but her replacement would seem to signal a retreat from the promise of retail reinvention at Apple. Ahrendts' (relatively) subordinate role at Apple probably had her somewhat hamstrung and she was being challenged to push through barriers in a maturing business. Should Ahrendts choose to continue her retail career trajectory, she should be at the top of the list of potential CEOs.
  • Posted on: 02/05/2019

    Walgreens tests tech that sort of recognizes you in-store

    The key question posed by RetailWire is whether Walgreens has an obligation to explain the technology behind the coolers. I assume that camera lenses aren't conspicuously trained on customers so does Walgreens have an obligation to explain that cameras are in fact there? Doing so would seem to be an epic fail. Who would think of that as a comforting, helpful in-store technology? Helping Walgreens manage out-of-stocks? Oh, yeah! Sign me up! (Not). So, is the standard that, if a customer knew a certain activity was happening and would balk at the prospect, the technology shouldn't be used? This is often the implied standard anytime Facebook or other data-mining platforms are discussed. The answer in the U.S. has been "What you don't know can't hurt you" but it's starting to wear thin.
  • Posted on: 02/05/2019

    Will Target’s dynamic pricing strategy erode customers’ trust?

    Wow. Just wow. I'm usually a fan of exception-based pricing (putting the customer in charge of calling out competitive pricing or clicks-to-bricks discrepancies) but Target's scheme will absolutely erode trust. The fact that there are differences between online and in-store pricing (or is "in-parking-lot" pricing now a thing?) isn't the problem -- that's practically a given for most retailers -- it's the magnitude of the differences. The types of price jumps portrayed in the article are downright disorienting and will encourage customers to keep on searching (other retailers), then pivot and head right back to the car. A loyalty-killing skepticism hangover could set in from there. I noted this past week that, for the first time ever, three different items in a row that I searched on Amazon showed wild swings in reviews. Two were staple items. One was an Amazon private brand. The five-star reviews were actual raves for the product featured. The one star reviews (which were beginning to drown out the fives) were backlash against sudden price increases. Many came complete with precise calculations on the part of customers ("why did this item suddenly go up 42 percent overnight?"). Algorithmic alacrity is getting out of control.
  • Posted on: 01/23/2019

    What will it take to dramatically reduce risk in the retail supply chains?

    Mitigating supply chain risk is a sensible goal. Eliminating, not so much. Transparency and traceability have been on the retail supply chain wish list for quite some time, however the often-described scenario of a consumer seeing every sourcing and manufacturing step hasn't become an everyday reality. The crux of the article is about increased complexity and greater complexity calls for new collaborative models. Partnerships can either be part of the solution or part of the problem. "Owning" as many steps in the chain as possible can drive transparency and accountability. On the other hand, partnering with reliable experts for various functions, including oversight, can make more sense. Supply chain management and risk mitigation relies on trust and cooperation.
  • Posted on: 01/21/2019

    Did Gillette’s rant against toxic masculinity go too far?

    Personal care brands like Gillette walk a razor thin line (see what I did there?) as they sell products to both men and women, yet advertising is usually directed toward one or the other. The ad, and the perspective it brings forward, builds a bridge between customer bases that appeals to the majority in both. For that reason alone, it's pretty ingenious.
  • Posted on: 01/18/2019

    NRF: Would digital experiences be even better with a human touch?

    The co-creation model espoused in the article is already in full swing. Retailers are arming store associates with technology that facilitates a personalized customer experience. Although technology will replace people power for some repetitive tasks, the interplay between both will dominate. I sum it up as "high tech will drive high touch" (rather than replace it).
  • Posted on: 01/03/2019

    Pier 1 seeks yet another turnaround strategy

    The phrase "everyone is the competition" in retail is usually an exaggeration but for Pier 1, it's close to true as so many retailers try their hands at the home furnishings business. The retailers mentioned are certainly major competitors but in general, it's retail's endless online aisles that are causing the most pain. That's where Target and others showcase thousands of home furnishings items that never find their way to store shelves. This presents an interesting conundrum: online retailers grab sales away from Pier 1 as shoppers launch online searches (and recommendation algorithms take over). Pier 1 has an advantage anytime a shopper walks in a store. The problem is that Pier 1 stores aren't ubiquitous and, unlike its major brick-and-mortar competitor, Home Goods, the treasure hunt urgency isn't as compelling. Pier 1 might do well to amp up the planned scarcity and even position itself as more of a hybrid (akin to World Market and yes, Home Goods) by adding gourmet, non-perishable food and additional home-related categories into the mix.
  • Posted on: 12/17/2018

    RH’s new location is a ‘luxury compound’

    I love what Gary Friedman is doing at RH. Rather than taking baby steps toward higher-end experiential retail and hoping customers notice, RH is going all in and really doing it right. Furniture and furnishings are an infrequent purchase. Framing RH's concepts with a high-end, residential vibe and incorporating wining, dining and helpful services promises to change that. RH certainly is taking brick-and-mortar by the horns.
  • Posted on: 12/11/2018

    Should Amazon buy Target?

    It's all too easy to back logic into Amazon buying Target but Target (and specifically, Brian Cornell) has too much to prove at this point. I've yet to see significant improvements at Whole Foods since Amazon acquired it - if anything, things have moved in the opposite direction in terms of service and product selection. Amazon has bitten off enough for now and Target needs more time to prove its point. As Amazon receives more scrutiny, antitrust hurdles are another consideration.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2018

    I don’t like Amazon as much as I did last week

    Amazon’s tale of two cities may seem like a buzz kill in the wake of all the winner-takes-all speculation but it is a manageable and beneficial situation overall. Amazon will be able to draw talent from a more diverse skill pool and build upon its existing presence in the DC and New York areas, both of which are well-suited to running brick-and-mortar tests. Negative implications like traffic congestion and rising home costs will be dispersed, making the aftershocks more manageable for both metro areas. No doubt Amazon received incentives from both cities that made the bifurcated location strategy even more attractive. Also, as Amazon receives more scrutiny, its proximity to power brokers both financial and political will come in handy. Either way, this isn’t necessarily a one-time shot. Retail is becoming more decentralized in general, leaving plenty of satellite possibilities open for round two (and three, and four), and not just for Amazon.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2018

    Walmart puts AI to the test in an in-store lab

    Artificial intelligence is the most promising innovation in retail as it has so many applications. Ranking the benefits misses the point since all of the tests Walmart is running will ideally work synergistically. Through dedicated laboratories like the Sam's Club Now location in Dallas, Walmart will be able to test the full potential of AI on multiple fronts then deconstruct and deploy what works rather than having to tease out the insights from its regular formats. Things are going to start to get exciting on the AI front, just in time for the holiday season.

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