Cate Trotter

Head of Trends, Insider Trends
Cate Trotter is the Founder and Head of Trends at Insider Trends, a leading London-based retail futures consultancy. Insider Trends helps brands such as Chanel, Marks & Spencer, Walmart, House of Fraser, Lancome, L’Oreal, Samsung, Clarins, Metro Group, Lego and EE innovate and create world-leading retail ecosystems. Insider Trends works with senior team members such as Chief Executives, Managing Directors and other C-Level professionals, specialising in retail trend presentations and retail safaris. Insider Trends' retail safaris give clients first-hand experience of the latest trends in action and introduces them to the innovators who can solve problems with the latest thinking and technology. Cate's work draws on the latest case studies, solid data, and insights from her personal connections with retail innovators. As Insider Trends delivers retail safaris in London, New York, Paris and Berlin, she often comments from her own experience of world-leading retail spaces. Visit:
  • Posted on: 01/21/2019

    For relevancy’s sake: a tale of two mall upgrades

    I think everyone is aware of the need to give people a reason to visit physical spaces and malls are no exception. The right mix of events and other entertainment options like F&B, bars, experiences, fitness and wellness, etc is just as important as the right mix of retailers and brands. Thematically organised merchanised floors/areas is an interesting idea. Perhaps you don't want it for every category, but there are a few examples out there now of malls/shopping centres with areas given over to formerly online-only retailers and/or pop-ups. It's making those parts of these spaces somewhere customers know where they'll always have something new to discover and a fresher shopping experience overall.
  • Posted on: 01/16/2019

    NRF: Will success in mobile shopping depend on progressive web apps?

    I'm always surprised when I don't see more happening with smartphones. I'm not sure if consumers are just put off by apps, or because they find using the browser as quick (how long does the average app take to load?), or if retailers aren't making their apps useful enough to warrant using ... either way, there's a huge opportunity there and while I wouldn't necessarily say PWAs are a silver bullet, but if they make things better and easier for the customers then they're worth exploring. I think overall success in mobile shopping comes down to having a decent mobile-optimised experience and customer confidence to shop with you in that way.
  • Posted on: 01/14/2019

    NRF: Is video analytics the solution to ending long checkout lines?

    The stats sound really good but are video analytics really necessary to make this happen? Could the same thing be achieved through better communication and management of staff? Is it really that difficult to see a lot of people enter the store and realise that you may need to put some staff on the tills to serve them? The tech is all well and good but perhaps retailers need to look at their operations first to see if it really would benefit them.
  • Posted on: 01/11/2019

    Zola de-stresses the wedding planning experience for Millennials

    Planning a wedding certainly is stressful. AT the same time there's a significant opportunity for retailers in that weddings are one of those life events where people often spend a significant amount of money. Coupled with the sense that this is the one time you get to do it, I think couples are happy to invest their time into the planning process. They're happy to visit venues, go to shows, etc. They want to be inspired and they want help and guidance. Zola doesn't provide all of that with its concept, but I imagine it will be an enjoyable way for a lot of people to while away an afternoon.
  • Posted on: 01/09/2019

    Sephora adds choices and personalization to rewards program

    Reading through this, it does seem like a lot of options but also the method of accumulating and then redeeming points is also somewhat confusing. 1.25 points per $1? It's hard to make that stick in the mind. That said it's nice to see that Sephora is actively trying to give its customers more control over their rewards rather than opting for a one size fits all approach. I like how some of the benefits are shareable with friends and family. Being able to have a makeover together seems like the sort of enjoyable in-store activity that people want to do together with the added benefit of the guest potentially being swayed to become a member themselves.
  • Posted on: 01/07/2019

    Retailers are shutting down their NYC flagships

    Of the retailers mentioned only the closure of Lord & Taylor really feels like something significant. Gap's space certainly didn't occupy that same level of flagship. At the end of the day if you're going to maintain a store in New York as a flagship then it needs to be a flagship - it has to be a destination, not just a bigger version of what you have everywhere else. I think it is understandable though that some retailers are reexamining their physical commitments and making decisions about what is working for them and not. If you're not doing it right then a large New York store is a burden rather than an asset. That said I think most retailers understand that and would prefer to retain flagship spaces as they're often not about sales, but brand building and marketing on a scale that can't be matched.
  • Posted on: 01/04/2019

    E-commerce forces CPG brands to think differently

    This is an area where we're only going to see more growth. When it comes to products like detergent, how many of us are wedded to the traditional method of buying? The idea that we can stock up online and have it delivered to home is an attractive one and that gives these brands room to play with packaging concepts that may not work as well in a store. For the likes of Amazon it's also a positive development in terms of encouraging customers to shift their stocking up to online. Any move towards more sustainable packaging and delivery is a positive one and I'm excited to see what innovation might come next.
  • Posted on: 01/02/2019

    Why are retailers publishing paid-subscription magazines?

    I think it's a desire to stand out and to be seen as having a value beyond just the physical store/website. If you can get someone to pay to interact with you, such as receiving your magazine, then you're onto a good thing. It's not wonder that Porter's biggest spenders are its subscribers. They've invested in the brand above and beyod the average customer. Obviously this strategy wouldn't necessarily work for every retailer, but for those selling higher-end or luxury products it may serve as that ongoing mark of quality. That said the content needs to stack up. If like Away your customers trust you as an expert in your field and you can feed that with the right information and inspiration then that's a recipe for success.
  • Posted on: 12/20/2018

    Why are holiday gift returns spiking before Christmas this year?

    Retailers are making it easier than ever to return items bought online, which means it's easier for customers to order more. Whether it's taking a punt on something or ordering a variety of colors and sizes it doesn't matter because they can send it back if it doesn't meet expectations. In many respects it shows that we're overcoming one of the big e-commerce hurdles -- taking a risk on something without having seen or held it. I also think that customers may also be returning goods as better deals on the same products crop up in the run up to the holidays. I've seen things drop by as much as £50 since Black Friday to now ... if you can send the more expensive version back and re-buy at a lower price why wouldn't you? I think retailers need to factor further price decreases into their strategy if they don't want to lose out through returns.
  • Posted on: 12/19/2018

    Can Barnes & Noble’s in-store experts beat algorithms?

    I think as long as what the ads portray matches up with the reality of the in-store experience then who can complain about this? I can't think of any reason why you wouldn't want to be served by someone who knows what they're talking about... The challenge for Barnes & Noble is to actually find and train staff that can deliver this. Data is definitely very helpful as a tool for recommendations, but most of us also listen to our friends when they tell us something is great -- I think both approaches have something to offer. I absolutely believe that enthusiasts and experts make for the best staff. A number of brands have even recruited new staff members from their biggest brand fans. It makes sense as a strategy as who better to authentically engage with customers and enthuse about a shared love than someone who already loves and understands your product?
  • Posted on: 12/17/2018

    RH’s new location is a ‘luxury compound’

    This is certainly an impressive concept. I think RH is really reinventing our perception of buying furniture and home furnishings. Its spaces are becoming somewhere to go and to be inspired and to hang out. It's not what you'd do with most other retailers in that field. I also like the fact that they're doing different things with each of their spaces. RH is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to experiential retail, while so many others just talk the talk. Yes there's a cost involved, but when you're giving people so many reasons to visit there's a good chance that it'll pay off.
  • Posted on: 12/14/2018

    Does Starbucks have a big delivery opportunity?

    A big opportunity? I'm not convinced. There may be an opportunity, but only in certain circumstances. For the average person it's hard to think of a time where paying for a Starbucks coffee to be delivered (with all of the temperature and quality and price concerns that brings up), is a better deal than making one at home/work or going into the store directly. Maybe for a team meeting it might be something you'd consider as it makes the cost of delivery more palatable. As noted in the piece, the challenge here is to make delivery make sense for a relatively low spend purchase (not to mention the fact that we're talking about something that doesn't necessarily travel well). People don't want to pay half the value of the coffee again for delivery. I can understand why Starbucks feels it needs to explore this avenue, but I don't expect it to be a particularly fruitful one.
  • Posted on: 12/12/2018

    Is Kroger following the Sears playbook for self-destruction?

    I'm not sure if it's really comparable to Sears' situation, but I do think that retailers shouldn't be investing in one part of their business to the detriment of others. The store is particularly important when it comes to grocery as more people still prefer to shop physically for the food we eat. The problem is that if these shoppers' view of the brand is coloured by a poor in-store aesthetic then they may not trust the online experience. It's definitely important to be innovating and moving forward, but Kroger may find themselves in trouble if they don't look to their stores as well.
  • Posted on: 12/10/2018

    Will Dollar General’s DGX concept be a hit with urban Millennials?

    It's not a new idea, but it makes sense and I'm sure one that will appeal to more shoppers than just Millennials. What I'm most intrigued about is the addition of free Wi-FI. It doesn't seem like a must have for a store like this -- how long do people really spend inside? However with Dollar General trialling scan and go tech, it makes more sense. It might also be a deliberate counter to idea of looking up a product online for cheaper prices while in a store. If Dollar General is confident that it's the best deal out there, it's going to want people to check and see that.
  • Posted on: 12/07/2018

    Will Active Ride Shop customers be stoked over lifetime commissions?

    It's an interesting approach. For the person encouraging friends to sign-up it could be enough of a driver to actually make sure they get their friends over the line. I think right now we're all very happy to talk (without incentive) about products and services we love -- we want to share that with our friends -- but we're not necessarily completely invested in making sure they actually buy it or use it. Sure it's great if they do, but it doesn't usually make any material difference to us and our experience. This approach means it will, so it may well drive up the number of people who follow through on a reference. It also means the customer is as invested as the brand in making sure their friends keep going back and buying more -- although hopefully it won't turn friends into nagging ads for the brand!

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