PROFILE

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: www.insider-trends.com
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  • Posted on: 05/22/2019

    Should retail boards include seats for store associates?

    I can't see how having input from store associates can be a bad thing. There's often a disconnect between those at the top and those who are day-to-day working in the spaces and with customers. You could even argue that a lot of retailers might be in a better position if they'd had this input earlier because they could respond to the problems, criticisms and customer wants that staff deal with on a daily basis. I think there would obviously be some training/understanding required, but the more staff feel listened to and understood the better the retailer can also retain them.
  • Posted on: 05/20/2019

    Just how big is Amazon’s ethics challenge?

    Amazon's deal has always been convenience. But it's clear that this comes at a price. Customers are becoming more conflicted about the ethical trade-off that comes into play when shopping with the big A. While these issues are clearly becoming more and more important, there is a question of whether people want (or can afford) to put their money where their mouth is and choose alternatives. The thing is that Amazon itself knows this and you could argue that it knows that as long as it keeps offering more and more convenience/perceived value, then it can get away with having lower ethical standards. As the company grows and moves into more and more areas though, there's definitely going to be some changes required.
  • Posted on: 05/16/2019

    Why does loyalty program ROI remain so murky?

    The thing about loyalty is that some of the brands with the most loyal customer bases don't have a loyalty programme. Or at least not a stamps/points/rewards style arrangement. They're brands that people naturally want to keep coming back to because they offer something better than what else is out there -- be that product, experience, customer care etc. While loyalty programmes can, and do work really well, retailers need to have their offering straight first. All the points in the world won't bring someone back if they don't enjoy shopping with you. Know who you are and what you offer, understand why people choose you, then (if you want to have a loyalty programme) create a scheme that is linked to that. Loyalty is the ROI of getting your retailing right in the first place.
  • Posted on: 05/15/2019

    Why is Amazon paying employees to quit their jobs?

    It's definitely an interesting move, but one that perhaps plays into coming trends. If warehouses are to become more automated in the future, then it's likely that less staff may be needed. This programme provides a way for some employees to shift out of the warehouse and stay within the Amazon world. I think for employees it probably seems like an attractive deal too, but it's important that they're thinking things through properly -- the entrepreneurial life is not for everyone and quite different to just being an employee!
  • Posted on: 05/13/2019

    Why is Party City closing profitable stores?

    Party City are smart to be thinking long-term about their store portfolio. Rather than having their hand forced by external circumstances, the company is bring proactive. I don't know exactly how far away the next Party City store is from the ones that are closing but if they're smart it will not be far. There's little need for a retailer to have multiple stores serving almost exactly the same customer base. Making the right changes now could mean Party City is in a stronger position long-term to weather other changes/those who might try to encroach on its business.
  • Posted on: 05/08/2019

    Angela Ahrendts talks about lessons learned at Apple

    I don't think what she's saying is unique to Apple - certainly not when you look at the brands that are seeing success today. Knowing where you come from (and what you stand for), moving quickly so you're not left behind and having a greater responsibility are all important elements if you want to make an impact. The important thing is to make this work for you and your brand on an individual basis.
  • Posted on: 04/26/2019

    AI-powered, voice-capable chatbot helps shoppers make the right choice in stores

    Definitely a really interesting experiment. I'm still not convinced that a lot of shoppers want voice-powered services in stores though. How many of us actually want to be stood there saying things out loud? To be sharing our preferences in a way that anyone else can hear? This is the reason why you tend to see people typing search queries while out and about, rather than using voice. It's one thing to talk to an assistant in the comfort of your own home, but another to be doing that in-store. I think the tech also needs to be good enough to cope with all the background sounds of a busy store (like other people talking) and still work well. Perhaps we'll get there with both the tech and culturally, but in the meantime I'll be intrigued to see how this idea goes.
  • Posted on: 04/25/2019

    What’s really driving disruption? (Hint: it’s not technology)

    Absolutely. Tech on its own is not enough. Tech for tech's sake means nothing. It's about using tech to provide increased convenience or value to customers. Think about how Uber disrupted the taxi business. It offered a more convenient/simple option. Whether we actually are busier than in the past is up for debate, but certainly we all feel more time poor. Therefore we are looking for brands to make our lives easier. Unfortunately a lot of brands aren't good at identifying the weak points in their business, or how they could add more value to customers' lives. Then someone else comes along and pulls the rug out from under them -- often with a simple application. It all comes back to really knowing your customer. Easy to say, but apparently harder for a lot of brands to do.
  • Posted on: 04/23/2019

    Are secondhand sales the right branding move for Neiman Marcus?

    The move makes sense. I think Neiman Marcus would rather have a slice of the resale market than let others take charge -- especially as those buying secondhand might become the next luxury shoppers. Secondhand products are a great entry point, as well as being a way for those who always want the latest products to trade in and upgrade. It's also a smart move to make the stores the drop-off point as it means customers have to go in, which will hopefully translate to other sales. Plus, by not selling the secondhand products in its store, Neiman Marcus is clearly working to keep that level of separation between its main business and resale.
  • Posted on: 04/18/2019

    H&M launches online peer-to-peer styling forum

    Interesting idea for sure. Instagram shows that shoppers have a real appetite for outfit inspiration images. Itsapark taps into this by almost reverse engineering those Instagram posts. You see so many comments on pictures of people asking where they bought items or saying how they love the way they've put stuff together. Now you can start with the question/situation and get a result that meets your specific need. I think the fact that it's not just H&M products being suggested helps Itsapark feel like it's offering something genuine and legitimate rather than it feeling like a paid-for advertising channel.
  • Posted on: 04/17/2019

    Will livestream shopping take off in the U.S.?

    I can certainly see a future for livestreaming. While QVC seems old fashioned, younger generations are avid social media users and with Snapchat/Instagram Stories/Facebook Live/Twitch and more all taking off it seems we're still quite taken with watching videos/content - just not necessarily on TV (especially given how many of us second screen when watching the box now!) Factor in that we're now shopping through social media and livestreaming seems like a natural progression. There's so many opportunities for brands around this - for example I love the idea of a company using livestreaming to give customers a sneak peek of new stock after hours as it arrives in stores. I think this would be a great way to build hype and anticipation by letting customers get a better idea of what a product looks like or how it works. They can also ask questions before they buy. Customers love feeling like they're part of a special club or they know something everyone else doesn't - by letting them see new products ahead of time brands could help stoke their want to buy.
  • Posted on: 04/15/2019

    Is Bed Bath & Beyond smart to draw the line on coupons?

    For a company that has made coupons part of its brand, getting rid of them is going to be tricky. Customers expect them -- it's basically a game between retailer and shopper where the price displayed isn't the real price. I think Bed Bath & Beyond are going to have to go about this in a careful fashion so that customers don't feel like they're suddenly being overcharged or ripped off. If the company can make good use of its data to careful target coupons that might help soften the blow. After all if there are going to be less coupons overall, then shoppers are going to want them to be relevant to them.
  • Posted on: 04/12/2019

    Why consumers are breaking bonds with their favorite brands

    Consumers are demanding more and more from brands these days. It's not enough that you're the brand of cereal their mum used to buy them anymore. That emotional connection may help when people are browsing the cereal aisle, but if your brand doesn't walk the walk on other important issues (e.g. sustainability, employee treatment, politics, etc.) then plenty of customers are happy to pick up a different name. You can't coast anymore. Your legacy is worth nothing if you're not relevant today - whether that's through your product range, your stance, your customer communications, etc. At the end of the day you need to give customers a reason to choose you. Saying "we've been doing this for a long time" isn't always a good enough reason now (although tradition and heritage are powerful tools if used right). It's like being the horse and cart when someone else has come up with the car. Entrepreneurs are constantly making us rethink the way we live our lives, and that includes how we shop. Legacy brands need to be thinking about leading the change, not just buying up the start-ups who do.
  • Posted on: 04/10/2019

    Will Walmart clean up with its robotic workforce?

    As others have said it's great to see Walmart embracing innovation so willingly. I think they've also been wise to concentrate robots on mundance tasks rather than have them interacting with customers. A human member of staff is much better suited for dealing with people in terms of understanding, context, advice etc. There's nothing more frustrating than talking to a robot and having to repeat yourself or have them mishear you. I'm most interested by the combined value of the Auto-S units and the FAST Unloaders. If the units can actually determine what a specific store is short on stock and prioritise getting it unloaded and put out faster then that's a real gamechanging benefit. On the flipside I do think there needs to be some thinking around when is too much too much - how many robots can you have moving about the store before they start getting in customers' ways?
  • Posted on: 04/08/2019

    Will Alexa earbuds advance Amazon’s virtual assistant ambitions?

    I can't see Amazon earbuds causing a mass exodus away from Apple's AirPods, if nothing else because Apple is the king of the ecosystem. If you have an iPhone you're likely to buy the AirPods because everything works together with as little friction as possible. I think that's the key point from this piece. Amazon's earbuds have to work with third-party devices which opens up all sorts of opportunity for friction. That said I'm sure in the future everyone will be releasing earbuds with virtual assistants built in (if they haven't already). Whether we're culturally ready for that yet though I'm not sure. Voice is still one of those weird things when out-of-the-house -- you don't really want to be the person on the train saying "Alexa remind me to buy milk" when it's more private, less disruptive and as fast just to type it.

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