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.

  • Posted on: 07/19/2018

    Petco pilots experiential store concept for fur babies

    At the end of the day you can buy things for pets online, but a lot of pet care is service-based -- vet visits, grooming, training, etc. Therefore as Petco has identified, there is a real opportunity for brick-and-mortar spaces to capitalize on services and experiences over selling. I think success comes down to the quality of their service. People love their pets -- they're not going to trust their care to just anyone. They want assurances of proper, professional, high-quality services. This is where these companies need to be putting their focus.
  • Posted on: 07/19/2018

    Prime Day success extends beyond Amazon

    It's great that other retailers were able to benefit from Amazon's event. Did that come down to the issues it had with its website which prompted others to go elsewhere? Or was it that for customers Prime Day has gone beyond Amazon in their minds and they see it as a general retail holiday like Black Friday and the January sales? If it's the latter then perhaps Amazon's advertising might and budget has been wielded to the benefit of the wider retail industry. On Amazon's part I'm sure they'll be working to ensure their website works perfectly next year, but at the same time they didn't seem to suffer much from the outages!
  • Posted on: 07/13/2018

    Nike launches digitally-led store

    I like this concept. Yes some of the digital elements aren't "new" as such, but I think that's not really the point. It should always come back to the customer and their experience. The digital elements here are designed to enhance that, but they're also more likely to be taken up because they use technology/channels that customers are familiar with. At the end of the day this isn't your typical Nike store so it doesn't have to function like one. In fact I don't think that encouraging stores to be carbon copies of each other is the way forward. As such, it's great to see Nike using the data that a company of its size has to focus right down on an individual store.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2018

    Did Build-A-Bear destroy its brand with a successful promotion?

    Some say all publicity is good publicity. It will be interesting to see which way this falls for Build-A-Bear. On the one hand you could say that it's obvious there would be high demand for a promotion where customers can save as much as £26 or so on a bear. But most of us are also used to these deals being subject to certain numbers. Perhaps Build-A-Bear should have limited the promotion to a certain number of bears per store. That might have managed expectations sooner and allowed staff to inform everyone in the queue past a certain point that they had missed out. They still could have handed out some sort of smaller discount voucher if they wanted. If I understand correctly the offer was only open to members of the company's loyalty club and therefore we presume they saw it as an exercise for opening up potentially long-term profitable relationships. What's interesting in all this is that they already have a Pay Your Age deal on a child's birthday. That seems like a more sensible and sustainable option, and yet it is clearly not widely known. Perhaps Build-A-Bear should have sunk more into promoting this deal, although arguably it is without the buzz that a large-scale event generates. Build-A-Bear has a lot of brand love so I think the company will be able to get past this but there are lessons in it for everyone.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2018

    Is your culture your brand?

    I think there's a lot of synergy between culture and brand. It's not a new example but Lush is a brand whose values are part of its culture. Many of its staff share the same values and beliefs as the company and this makes them more passionate as a result. They care about what they're doing because what they're doing resonates with who they are. It also makes them better at their jobs. Employees who connect with a company's culture are also more likely to stick around at a company. Some companies have even employed staff from their biggest fans because if they love the company as a consumer they're probably a good fit for the culture. I think these days if your company doesn't have a defined culture then it doesn't have a USP or a story to tell customers. And that doesn't come from foosball tables.
  • Posted on: 07/10/2018

    Nordstrom opening more Local stores without inventory

    It's really interesting to see this concept evolving and how Nordstrom is taking it wider. As others have said the new spaces seem to be focused on being collection points, where customers can try things on and get them tailored. This works well with the smaller footprint too. I think the Local idea in general is just a nice mix of service and convenience -- you're not browsing through endless rails because you've already ordered (or have booked a stylist), so in a way the potentially "less fun" bit is already out of the way. Instead you get to concentrate on trying things on but with the added bonus of experts to help. What I really want to see is how far this concept can go. I've long been surprised that no one has opened up a tiny store space which has one fitting room and serves for a pick-up and try-on point. Nordstrom Local could be condensed even further and still retain many of the services above -- even if the tailoring was done at one of the larger sites, for example.
  • Posted on: 07/06/2018

    Urban Outfitters buys into installment payment plan

    Interesting idea -- it's a bit like re-imagining the store card for e-commerce. I don't think it's anything we've not seen before, it's just being implemented in a different way. It seems like it would be attractive for more expensive purchases, but based on the figures cited above it seems customers in Australia use it quite frequently so perhaps it will be a default payment method. Obviously the downside of this is making sure that customers can afford to make the payments and that the brand relationship doesn't go sour. I certainly can see the attraction on both sides of the U.S. market, so I will be intrigued to see what happens!
  • Posted on: 07/05/2018

    Target looks to build rep as ‘America’s easiest place to shop’

    Who doesn't like the idea of an easier life? I think it's a strong message for Target and one we can all relate to. The proof is in the execution though. I like the idea of the Drive Up service. Seems like a great thing when you're out and about and suddenly think of something you need. In turn with the delivery expectations of customers so high using Shipt to offer something Amazon-like is no bad thing. However, if Target really wants to be the easiest place to shop then it needs to not neglect the in-store experience as well and make sure that's as simple and effective as possible to match its other efforts.
  • Posted on: 07/02/2018

    Walmart adds 3D virtual shopping tour for online home shopping

    I don't really see the huge benefit for this over what is already out there -- Target's AR system seems like a more useful application of tech as you can actually see what the products look like in your home. Walmart's curated apartments might be lovely, but how much will that translate to the average customer looking for furniture. How will they know if that will work for them at home? I think until we're able to offer customers a VR experience that uses their own rooms to view products in the AR application seems a better way to go.
  • Posted on: 06/29/2018

    Kroger to deliver groceries using driverless cars

    This sort of experimentation is inevitable and it's always worth encouraging people to test new ideas. However I am intrigued to know more about how it will work. Does an autonomous vehicle mean I have to make several trips back and forth from it as a customer to get all my shopping? How will I locate what is my order (or will each vehicle only carry one order at a time -- which seems ineffective)? How will perishables be stored (and how will this affect me getting my items)? I think there's a lot of logistical elements to work out (plus obviously all the safety stuff about autonomous cars), but I think there's also an experiential factor to this. Will it improve or worsen my experience as a customer?
  • Posted on: 06/29/2018

    Is making burgers now a job for robots?

    I think that robotics/automation are best as part of a hand-in-hand strategy with humans. For example I see McDonald's use of touchscreens for ordering as part of a strategy to free up staff to fulfill orders (rather than take them) and therefore get food to customers faster. Now of course you could say that those touchscreen orders could go to a robot like Creator to actually cook. But at the same time the more automation that you introduce the more you need humans to oversee it and step in when things go wrong. Certainly I think we'll see more happen in the fast food space but hopefully with companies not trying to run before the tech can walk!
  • Posted on: 06/27/2018

    Survey finds marketers struggle to deliver personalized content

    Automation and personalisation seem like the opposites of each other! That's not to say that you can't use automation to deliver personalisation as it's obviously not really feasible for a huge retailer to personally write emails to each customer. But personalisation always carries an element of authenticity and mass-emails are always easy to spot. Finding a sweet spot between something that feels real enough to the customer and actually targets them as an individual, and being able to do that on a mass scale is the challenge for marketers and tech.
  • Posted on: 06/26/2018

    Analyst: Prime perk could eventually double customers at Whole Foods

    The thing that the Prime discounts does is to make Whole Foods appear more affordable. Given that it falls into the high-end, high-price bit of the grocery market this will be an important aspect of attracting the more general shopper (who isn't already going there for its health, diet, quality credentials). The fact that Amazon Prime members can get the discount without signing up to yet another programme is helpful too. I'm sure that it might entice some new customers through the door, but I'm not sure that it will be enough to overcome the fact that Whole Foods is a more expensive, premium option. I'm not sure it will ever become mass-market in the way that Amazon is unless the company has a bunch of other tricks up its sleeves (which it probably does!).
  • Posted on: 06/22/2018

    Study: Customization becoming more commonplace

    I think customization and personalization are going to grow within the retail mix but it's not yet clear exactly what form that will take. I'm not sure how much customers really want a tea towel with their initials on it or an engraved wine opener. I think customization will come into its own with the ability to change products to suit your needs or even design something of your own. Love the dress but hate the neckline? In the future you might be able to change it.
  • Posted on: 06/21/2018

    Apple’s Ahrendts sees a ‘bigger purpose than just selling’ for retail

    I don't think Ahrendts is saying anything new. I think we've been talking about the need for stores to be more than places where staff try to give you the hard sell for a while. The role of the store is changing in line with customer expectations, e-commerce and new channels. It's no surprise that Apple is ahead of the curve with this, but plenty of other retailers have been transforming their store strategy. Staff are an important part of this -- finding the right people in the first place and then training them well.

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