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: 11/16/2018

    Apple-inspired Glossier opens ‘adult Disneyland’ flagship store

    Glossier seem to really know what they're doing. This isn't their first physical retail foray either. A series of super popular pop-ups have helped it to figure out what customers respond to, as well as to create buzz, and this will have all informed what it's doing with this permanent space. It's a place to play and explore, and to take pictures, and this is exactly what physical retail should be about. Glossier gets that you can't sell to people anymore, you can only give them reasons to buy and by making its space about discovery and fun it lets customers discover those reasons for themselves.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2018

    Visually rich social content produces ‘shoppable’ experiences for retailers

    I feel like this is pretty obvious stuff. The article mentions how Facebook pages don't have such a high rate of shopability, but that is because visual content lends itself towards this far more and Facebook pages are not built in that way. At the end of the day retailers should be making the most of all opportunities to reach customers and visual content is a great one. People love browsing Instagram for inspiration and trends, and if they see something they like, it should be a matter of course that they can click and buy it then and there ... not have to go online or in-store and try to find it. Equally, retailers should be thinking how to make the most of visual content in-stores as well. If customers are getting inspired by Instagram then they're increasingly going to be going in-store with images from the site to try and find the products to try on -- staff need to have a way to deal with those requests. It's not good enough to say 'sorry we can't help' -- they should be able to search their inventory using that image and direct the customer as necessary.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2018

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

    Whether what Walmart is described as doing really counts as AI aside, I like the idea of testing new ideas via an in-store lab. There's really no better way to see what works and what doesn't than putting it in a live environment and if Walmart can do this via the lab it will learn plenty. Knowledge is power after all and although the applications sound like obvious choices if Walmart can gain a better understanding of its spaces via tech then maybe they can effectively solve some of these issues.
  • Posted on: 11/09/2018

    Retailers need to focus on customer lifetime value for long-term success

    I've been saying for a long time that retailer-customer relationships shouldn't start and end with a purchase. I think some of the best brands are now really starting to take that on-board and create real ecosystems around their products and services. If you think from a CLV perspective then a smart hairbrush can provide customers with information about the quality and type of their hair, recommend and sell them personalized hair care products (perhaps even signing them up to a regular subscription service), provide them with personalized tips and styling videos for their hair type, etc. That seems like a much better offering than just a one-time purchase of a hairbrush. Obviously it takes more work and investment by the retailer to put in place, but I believe ecosystems really are key to the future of customer-retailer relationships.
  • Posted on: 11/07/2018

    What are the omnichannel challenges facing e-tailers opening stores?

    Thinking about omnichannel from the perspective of an online-first business going offline is an interesting one. As noted above there is a benefit from starting small, with just a few stores, especially if you are learning as you go. I think the other thing to consider is that quite a few online-first retailers are using/have used pop-ups as a way to bridge moving into physical retail. There's a lot that can be learnt from these experiences as well, as Amazon's recent Fashion pop-up in London shows. Pop-ups give retailers room to experiment and to learn, without necessarily having to get it totally right. The important thing to remember is that experience matters more and more to customers so online-first retailers can't just rely on fudging their way through -- the more physical retail experience they can tap into, the better.
  • Posted on: 11/05/2018

    Did Amazon just crush Target and Walmart’s free holiday shipping moves?

    It's likely that Amazon has done this in a two-prong attack; the first is to make sure customers don't have a reason to go anywhere else (like free shipping) and the second is to try and attract new Prime subscribers by letting them experience the benefits first. Whereas Target and Walmart's strategies both seem just about this holiday season, rather than anything beyond that. In this respect, Amazon may be the winner, but ultimately whoever they shop with most customers are going to win when it comes to free shipping, which is probably all they care about (more than who they are shopping with!)
  • Posted on: 11/02/2018

    Walmart reimagines its big boxes as town centers

    Another big name talking about town centres.... As an idea, it makes a lot of sense. Walmart has these sites so it might as well make good use of them. Creating spaces that offer more than just an out-of-town retail experience may help encourage people to actually go to these big box stores -- it's a reason to go out and spend half a day or more somewhere. You're going to get something nice, fun, enjoyable out of it. It's the same sort of idea as making shopping centres places for days out. Especially if Walmart can curate the experiences so they're tailored to the local audience rather than being the same in all the locations.
  • Posted on: 10/31/2018

    Will Goodyear roll over rivals with new Millennial-friendly showroom concept?

    This definitely seems like a decent revamp of a buying/service experience which is really not fun currently, and for some, very offputting and even intimidating. I think part of Roll's appeal will be that the design looks unlike anything you associate with tyres and therefore customers may feel like they're not going to be bamboozled with jargon, or possibly even ripped off for not being knowledgeable in that area. I really like the idea that you can drop your vehicle off and then shop surrounding spaces while the tyres are changed. In my experience at least, tyre fitting places and garages are usually based on the outskirts of town or in industrial estates so your options are limited. And the mobile installation option offers even more convenience, which might stop people putting off getting new tyres!
  • Posted on: 10/29/2018

    Can Brandless deliver on its lofty goals in a pop-up?

    I really love the approach to this pop-up. It's all about experience and brand building, and it does it in a really good way. There are a lot of people out there who may not have heard of Brandless, or they might have heard of it and wondered about the quality of its offering, so a space like this is a fab hands-on introduction. I also like that there is one 'taster' option for customers to take away that day. At Brandless' prices it's not hard to imagine people taking a punt to try its products out which might translate into ongoing customers. What I especially like is it's not just celebrating what Brandless offers, but also its brand. More and more customers are being discerning about the companies that they let into their lives, so having a strong brand message is a great way to set a company apart.
  • Posted on: 10/26/2018

    Should retailers respond to every consumer review?

    Reviews are part of the new communication between retailers and customers. Yes it's a full-time job (or several!) to keep on top of them, but they can also be a fairly easy way to make people feel heard or to stop a bad situation from blowing up. Customers just want to know that a brand is listening and they're not just shouting into the void. I think retailers need to be careful not to adopt too many generic or formulaic responses because that undermines the idea that this is a dialogue. It's definitely a tough thing to get right, but it could really make a difference to customer relationships. I think retailers also need to look at where reviews are addressing other holes in their communication, especially in the case of negative reviews. So many people take to social media to report problems or bad service, and sometimes this is because they've gone through private channels like email and have not gotten a satisfactory response. It's only when they go public that they get one. You shouldn't be creating a culture where people have to publicly badmouth you to get a problem solved or a complaint taken seriously.
  • Posted on: 10/24/2018

    Don’t shutter that store! Bricks impact clicks

    If we think about it, is it really surprising that stores help drive website traffic? If nothing else they are a form of advertising. There are so many options out there when it comes to retail from the long-standing names to endless new brands -- no shopper can be familiar with them all or even aware that they exist. They have to come to our attention in some way. The store is a great way of achieving this. It also inspires a level of confidence and legitimacy in shoppers. There's something about a physical presence that creates brand trust. You know if you have an issue that the company cannot hide from you because you can walk in and speak to someone. And this trust feeds through into that retailer's online business. You feel comfortable shopping with them via all channels. Of course retailers have a lot of things to weigh up when it comes to store closures, and some are inevitable, but they should always be thinking about their business as an all-encompassing ecosystem rather than disparate online and offline elements. If they get that right then all parts of the business will benefit from all the others.
  • Posted on: 10/22/2018

    Stores rarely ID customers before they check out

    There's a few things to unpack here -- first of all, do customers want to be identified? Second if a store can identify them, is it set up to actually do anything with that information? I suspect this is one of the big issues as customers don't see any real value in return for their information. The average store doesn't have any capability to truly act on it to improve or personalise the experience. For example there's a big, high street retailer that asks customers if they want an email receipt when they're at the checkout, but pretty much everyone (while I've been in the store) says no. Why? Well because there's no benefit to it. All that happens is they get added to a generic email list and get sent the same spammy offer emails as everyone else. There's no personalisation there, no styling tips for the products they just bought, special offers, incentives. Then there's the fact that to get that email receipt they have to stand in the store and spell out their email address to the assistant for them to tap it in. This not only slows down the checkout process (for all other customers in the queue as well) but means they have to publicly broadcast personal data. This is just one example but is it any wonder that retailers struggle with identifying customers when this is the sort of set-up? Now if the customer in that store could check in with an app, pay through that app and request an email receipt with one click of a button -- well that's a different story. There's lots that retailers could do here to improve identification, but there's no point in pushing any of that until they are in a position to capitalise on it properly.
  • Posted on: 10/19/2018

    Why is Burger King offering nightmares to go with its new sandwich?

    I mean it's working -- we're talking about it right? It's a well-timed campaign, given the time of year, and I'm sure there will be people who buy into it to see if it lives up to its claims. If someone tells you that this lotion or potion will make you look younger do you want to buy it and try it yourself? It's tapping into that same sort of thinking -- if you tell people that it's going to give them nightmares some people are going to want to test that theory (even if the results noted above suggest most people won't experience anything!) It's not a campaign to change to the world, but it's not a complete shot in the dark either.
  • Posted on: 10/17/2018

    New c-store concept is high-tech inside and out

    I like that Choice Market is thinking about the future. The concept it's proposing may not change the world, but it's certainly ahead of what it's got now. And probably its competitors. At this point if you have an electric car and a choice of forecourt charging places, you'd surely prefer to go to the one where you can go and sit down and get a coffee or something to eat over the one without anything to occupy you, no? This could help to make Choice Market a preferred choice. One thing to bear in mind is that I'm sure the amount of time it takes to charge an electric car will go down and down as more and more people move to these types of vehicles simply because people won't want to wait that long. So while it is smart for Choice Market to be thinking about services it can offer to help occupy people, it needs to be careful not to cripple itself in the future.
  • Posted on: 10/15/2018

    Shopify opens a storefront to support its online merchants

    It's a great marketing initiative by Shopify. Sure the space is going to support its existing customers, but it will also serve as the ideal place for prospective new customers to find out more. Having a physical presence can help brands to feel more legitimate and this may encourage more people to come over to Shopify. Plus, there is always the store as an advertising discovery element too. I think the idea is a nice one though. The classes and workshops seem well pitched and the option for one-on-one advice and support in-person will be attractive. There's just something about speaking to people face-to-face that makes you feel more connected than other forms of communication. The space also gives somewhere for Shopify to build its community -- not just its own customer relationships, but for businesses and entrepreneurs to meet one another.

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