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: 11/14/2019

    Are mixed reality apps set to skyrocket?

    Based on the definition above it's clear that mixed reality is a big deal and something that plenty of people already engage in - look at Snapchat and Pokemon Go and its like. I think there's plenty of scope for mixed reality to play a role in retail - one of my favorites is Nike's use of AR and geolocation to send people on treasure hunts to unlock new drops. It could be a powerful way of unlocking new retail experiences. How much of this will be tied to smartphones over glasses and headsets is up for debate. Smartphones are ubiquitous and we all feel comfortable with the tech - I'm not sure the same can be said for AR glasses or headsets. I suspect it will be quite some time before a.) we're all comfortable enough to use such devices (in public) and b.) the penetration is deep enough to make a big difference.
  • Posted on: 11/07/2019

    Why do digital transformations often fail?

    As I said in my presentation today, "all the technology in the world won't save you if your heart's not in the right place." You have to want to change particularly when it comes to becoming a more customer centric business. The attitude comes first to drive the change and then the application of the tech is what brings it to life. It's the only way for a business to properly embrace digital transformation. There are lots of benefits, but it's not necessarily easy, so retailers really have to commit to doing the right thing. The answer is not in the tech -- the answer is in your attitude as a business. Because if you get that right you start to see that looking at yourself as a retailer is not necessarily the most useful description and that you're actually in the business of user experience, which can be enhanced through digital.
  • Posted on: 11/01/2019

    Survey says consumers want online orders shipped fast and free

    Is anyone surprised by this? Just because they're buying online doesn't mean customers are any less impatient to get their products. They also don't want to pay more for them (i.e. for delivery) -- that charge can be the thing that pushes a purchase price up too much for them to actually want to make it. For retailers it's a challenge certainly, and I do think a lot of customers do use Amazon as a benchmark. A huge proportion of regular online shoppers have shopped at Amazon at least once before and that experience will probably have helped cement their expectations. Couple that with the fact that Amazon always seems to working to make things faster and you've got an ever moving goalpost. I think all retailers have to be looking at customer wants when it comes to delivery and finding ways to try and meet them (without crippling themselves in the process).
  • Posted on: 10/31/2019

    Are retailers out-of-step with consumers when it comes to price?

    It's interesting how big the gap is between executives and consumers on some of these points. I think it's indicative of how some of the retail industry is failing to keep pace with customer habits and wants, which is causing it to lose out. Price is certainly important to a lot of shoppers and this has been enabled by retailers through coupons, deals and sales. I would say that it's not the only factor -- what's important for the customer is the perception of value. The exchange has to feel worth it for the customer and if you know something is going to be on sale in a few weeks time the perceived value of a product can be quite low. Retailers need to provide an end-to-end customer experience (and by that I don't mean Instagram walls and big productions -- although they can have a place) that makes it worth shopping with them.
  • Posted on: 10/22/2019

    Can b8ta do for fashion what it’s done for consumer tech?

    As a big fan of the b8ta concept, I'm really keen to see The Forum in action. I think it creates a really interesting opportunity for fashion retailers -- particularly around knowing more about the customer and how they interact. That information could be incredibly valuable for the brand to use in all sorts of other areas of their business. I think the concept works well for D2C and newer brands as a point of discovery for customers without the heavy lifting of running your own store or pop-up. This is also a testbed for b8ta to see how its service translates to other categories. You could easily see them selling their insights (in an anonymised way) to brands in the future as they're constantly learning about what customers do and want.
  • Posted on: 10/18/2019

    Nearly half of online fashion shoppers say social media inspired their last purchase

    If retailers with physical stores aren't already taking advantage of social media then they're behind. Social media is another shift in the way customers buy, just as the internet was. The important thing to take from this survey is that shoppers aren't just finding stuff to buy from seeing it on influencers. They also want to see what the "general shopper" thinks. While brands have spent a lot of time courting influencers, they cannot overlook the fact that most customers know that the photos they see from influencers are not reality. This is why photos and reviews from other shoppers are more important to them. You can more easily see yourself reflected in that person and you trust their opinion more -- for the most part you know it's not bought and paid for. I also don't think anyone would be surprised that products photos, videos and information are vital for customers to make decisions on whether to buy. Any retailer who isn't nailing this needs to take a look at their approach right now.
  • Posted on: 10/17/2019

    Is e-grocery less convenient than shopping in stores?

    Online shopping for groceries feels most valuable if you know what you want to buy. If you always buy the same things then it's very quick and convenient to create a shopping list and rebuy it week-on-week (or at whatever frequency you like). Most of us though have some deviation in our shopping habits -- we might be buying a week's worth of products, or a monthly cupboard top-up, or a quick visit to get dinner for that day. The variety of wants and needs means that going into the store usually wins out for convenience and speed. As the report notes, we're used to shopping in the store. We often tend to visit the same supermarket (or handful of spaces) so we know exactly how to navigate them and where their usual products are. They also can be exposed to new products and offers. This becomes more difficult online where you may be searching in a different way. Rather than browsing shelves, you can bypass entire product categories if you just use the search function. There's also a question of whether you're actually seeing everything in the category you want. I think until the online grocery experience becomes more in tune with the way we shop in-store, it's likely the store will be more convenient for a lot of customers.
  • Posted on: 10/11/2019

    Google Shopping gets an upgrade

    There's a really strong mix of features here which demonstrates that Google wants to stay in the game when it comes to being a first port for shopping and inspiration. I think the price tracking feature is something that customers will be keen on. The thing about Amazon is that it's not always the cheapest option out there and for those who are more price conscious this could be a big benefit. I also like the localisation element as it makes complete sense for offline retailers to highlight that you could have the product in your hands in a matter of minutes (rather than waiting for delivery). It will be interesting to see how deep the personalisation really goes. I question whether customers will want to commit to putting in time to teach it about their tastes (e.g. by flagging suggestions that they like or don't like, etc.) so it may be that its suggestions won't be as good as they could be.
  • Posted on: 10/10/2019

    Personalized promos add up to a ‘win-win’ for retailers and consumers

    Personalisation definitely feels like it's something that should be happening more in retail. When it comes to pricing though it's a difficult one. Everyone likes the idea of getting a good deal - the idea that someone else might be getting a better one than you might cause some friction. Could it be that customers will hang on hoping for a better deal (something that is already being done today by some)? It's also interesting that the benefits take time to show themselves but that they're better for new customers. I think we all feel that if we're a loyal, regular and/or high-spending customer that we should be treated better. You often see existing customers complaining about new customer only deals -- personalised pricing could spark the same dissatisfaction.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2019

    Is Walmart on the right track with new healthcare pilot programs?

    Healthcare is a big deal. There are a lot of benefits for Walmart in exploring getting a share of this space. From an employer side this may help with employee loyalty but also might reduce sick leave if issues can be dealt with fast. From a customer perspective it creates another reason to choose Walmart. There's a lot of talk about aging populations and with that healthcare becomes a bigger and bigger element. Cementing a position in it could really pay off in the long run for Walmart.
  • Posted on: 10/02/2019

    Foot Locker invests in streetwear e-commerce platform

    Foot Locker have been making some strong, strategic investments recently and this looks to be another one. The connection between culture and commerce has always been strong and increasingly lines are blurring when it comes to what we see and hear, what we are inspired by, who we follow and what we buy. This investment will hopefully help Foot Locker put its name in front of sneaker fans in a different way -- as a contributor to the culture rather than just someone wanting to sell them stuff. There's not a lot of detail here about what the investment entails, but it could be interesting if Foot Locker was able to gain data about NTWRK's viewers that it could feed into other areas of its business.
  • Posted on: 09/26/2019

    Can grocery shopping make people less lonely?

    Within retail, grocery stores benefit from regular visits. We all need food right? And we don't all buy it online -- or we're just grabbing a few bits. If it's a local store that you pretty much always visit then you're already likely to know some of the staff -- or at least recognise them. This initiative is an extension of that. It's a nice idea to encourage people to slow down and spend some time if they want to. I think as long as the store also has the necessary steps in place to serve customers who want to get in and out quickly so there isn't frustration, then why not!
  • Posted on: 09/24/2019

    Two hot trends, personalization and frictionless retailing, are at odds with each other

    I agree with the other comments about frictionless retailing being about the experience for the customer. It's unlikely that you could ever remove all friction within a supply chain, but the customer doesn't have to see all those moving parts. As long as their journey to buy something is as smooth and frictionless as possible they're not going to be concerned with how you did it. I think tech will help retailers at the supply chain end as well, but as ever the focus needs to be on the customer. By that logic, personalisation is a great way to remove some friction. For example, rather than searching through every product a retailer has on its website or in its store, if the customer can get recommended items that are right for them then some friction is removed. In most cases we're not really there with true personalisation -- it's more of a spin on classic segmentation -- but this will increase. Tech can definitely help that -- and be an enabler of staff as in the case of clienteling apps and systems such as Sprucebot.
  • Posted on: 09/20/2019

    Will The Body Shop find it’s easier being green?

    It's interesting that The Body Shop says that they tried refill stations 20 years ago but dropped the idea as consumer uptake was too low. The world is a different place now and customers are looking for sustainable options and brands. It's a very clear example of how important consumer buy-in is when it comes to innovation and how retailers need to be aware of customer habits and wants when making decisions. Something that might be too out there now may be exactly what your shoppers want in 5 or 10 years from now. I think it makes sense for The Body Shop to be tapping into its green, natural, sustainable heritage as a way to position the brand today. As others have mentioned, it's a shame that it lost sight of this over the years. At the same time, other brands like Lush are pushing much further ahead when it comes to innovation -- you don't need to refill a bottle if you've got no packaging, for example.
  • Posted on: 09/18/2019

    Retailers approach tech’s cutting edge with caution

    I've always said that tech shouldn't be used for tech's sake. It needs to serve a purpose and to improve things for either the customer, the retailer or both. If it doesn't then it will quickly fall by the wayside. Without a doubt order and inventory management are going to make more difference to most retailers than robots at this stage. I think retailers should ensure they're aware of the new technologies that are out there and what they can do because then they can make an informed decision about whether it works for their business. Not every retailer is the same and what makes sense for some won't for others. They should also regularly reassess the developments though. Something that might not make sense now might in the future with a different application or cheaper price point.

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