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: 05/17/2018

    Walmart drops Scan & Go tech – again

    I'm sure this won't be the last we hear of this idea from Walmart. What I think we can be sure of is that they are taking all of the learnings on-board whether that's to use in a future iteration of Scan & Go, or more likely to inform checkout and payments options in general. As we all know, we don't just learn from success. It's interesting to think about whether other brands experimenting with similar tech are coming up against the same issues and the direction we may see things moving in general.
  • Posted on: 05/15/2018

    Retail loyalty programs are no longer in the cards

    I think this is just another example of how much loyalty as a concept needs rethinking. The store card is quite an outdated concept and as the piece notes seems especially unattractive to younger shoppers -- who retailers need to court to ensure they have a customer base in years to come. It's not just the cards though, retailers need to really think about their loyalty programs and if they're worthwhile. Or can they drive customer loyalty in other, more effective ways.
  • Posted on: 05/14/2018

    Is an on-demand workforce heading to retail’s selling floors?

    It's always difficult to see how temps or "on-demand workers" can offer major benefits over a regular workforce. For one, how do you get someone up to speed with the job, including all of the in-store systems, for a day or two? At a time when in-store experience has never been more important, retailers could run the risk of providing something below par simply by not having properly trained and competent staff. It's not the fault of the temp staff, but it's impossible for someone to come into a new role and not make mistakes or need to ask questions. The only thing that might make it easier is if McDonald's used a pool of temps with McDonald's training -- but then why not just hire and train employees? I think if you're in a tight spot you might be grateful for some on-demand workers, but on the whole it doesn't sound like a good thing for retailers, customers or the temp.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2018

    Etsy succeeds with its Amazon-opposite approach

    Amazon-proof is a strong term in today's retail climate. However, there is a lot of truth in the above about Etsy and Amazon being very different businesses. In fact, it's indicative of the wider retail industry - we see the middle disappearing more and more and retailers either focusing on value and convenience or a more specialist, premium offering. The draw for customers is that Etsy is about the hand-made, you're buying into the creator and their expertise, whereas Amazon is all about mass sales. Amazon did try to move into Etsy's patch with the Maker Marketplace but it hasn't seen the same traction.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2018

    Consumers get the smart home experience at Amazon open houses

    Customers are still getting used to smart home devices. Amazon has made the biggest impact with its Echo/Alexa offering, but we're not yet at the point where this tech is commonplace. Even new homes aren't being built "smart" as standard. There's a real need for customers to see this tech in situ so they can see what it can do for their own homes and lives. With that in mind this collaboration makes a lot of sense -- both Amazon and Lennar are going to benefit from it, and customers are going to be able to interact with the tech and imagine it in their own homes. That might drive up sales of such devices -- and of course Amazon will benefit from that.
  • Posted on: 05/08/2018

    Walmart associates check out customers on the floor in pilot program

    Lawn and garden seems like a sensible area to have such an initiative, compared to say general groceries where it feels like either going to the till or using a self-scan service is the better option. It should hopefully streamline things for customers, and enable staff to keep helping someone for their entire journey rather than giving them advice or finding the products they want and then having to send them off to stand in a queue. Now one assistant could do it all. Of course the other interesting thing about this is that Walmart itself says that customers no longer have to go into the store to pay. There is a question about whether this may reduce the value of some sales as customers who had to go into the store may have bought other items on a whim. Perhaps Walmart has done the sums though and seen this doesn't really apply to lawn and garden. I think in the future we're going to see a mix of different payment services and there's a one-size-fits-all approach. It will be down to the individual retailer and their customer base. As mentioned above, I can't see the value in someone scanning a huge trolley of groceries for me on the shop floor, but I can see it in a fashion retailer where you're more likely to have a blended experience of advice and commerce.
  • Posted on: 05/07/2018

    Shake Shack ends cashless experiment

    Isn't this the reason that you experiment? To see how customers respond to changes before rolling them out? In that respect this was a good move by Shake Shack. It's also given them valuable insights into their customers. Perhaps customers prefer to deal with staff because of the level of customisation that happens at Shake Shack -- which may well be higher than a lot of fast food outlets. The company may well choose to adopt something like the McDonald's model in the future where kiosks are available for quick ordering, but customers can also order from a cashier and pay in cash if they desire.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2018

    New Brookstone concept brings makers to the mall

    I think Brookstone has been very canny in choosing Roosevelt Field mall for this experiment. As the article points out this mall has already started to get a reputation for offering something a bit different. This may help it attract more footfall and then concepts like the Brookstone one will strengthen that. It may be that this one mall becomes a destination of choice. Customers like the idea of being able to find something new when they shop and I think the new Brookstone idea is a great way to encourage experimentation. For the brands and products being sold there it's a major win to have a space where people can experience the products (as people can be reluctant to buy something new without having seen it in person) and then having the online platform as well. Brookstone is using these independent inventors and entrepreneurs to ensure it has a supply of innovative new products to sell. I'll be interested to see how this test case fares.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2018

    Fashion that wants to improve quality of life

    There's certainly a huge opportunity for our clothes to do more. I think it may take time for mainstream brands to tap into this -- so many of them are focused on trying to catch trends that speed has become of the essence. But I think that as other brands lead the charge and consumers start to become more demanding of adaptive clothing, smart fabrics, connectivity, etc, all will become more mainstream. As to the aging population, I'm sure that plenty of brands will go with the money and if they can see an audience, they will explore producing fashion with extra benefits for them.
  • Posted on: 05/01/2018

    Is membership really what’s driving RH’s rebound?

    Membership is on the rise in retail and may well be the future of loyalty. The idea of offering perks in exchange for a fee, rather than just giving out a loyalty card, has become well established - not least because of Amazon's Prime service. It stands to reason that membership can help breed loyalty as people want to get the most out of their investment. I'm really interested to see how this continues to pan out for RH. At the same time you can't disregard the impact of the more experiential elements of the retail experience - this is a really good example of that at play. It gives customers a reason to shop there over other retailers and makes for a more positive experience.
  • Posted on: 05/01/2018

    Can retailers appeal to both ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ shoppers?

    We're all fast and slow shoppers at some point. Buying a coffee on the way to work might be a fast shopping experience, but buying a birthday present may be a slower one. The best retailers are finding ways to combine these experiences, whether that's in-store or online. For example Starbucks' Mobile Order & Pay service lends itself to a fast experience where customers can walk in and pick up their pre-made beverage, but equally Starbucks Reserve stores offer a much more immersive experience where you can watch coffee being made in interesting ways, relax and catch-up with friends. These two services may exist in the same store enabling customers to access whichever they need on that day. There are plenty of other retailers taking this sort of approach and I think we're in a period of experimentation -- what works for one customer base may not work for another. Target for example has a store with two entrances -- one for quick grocery top-up trips and the other for leisurely homewear, gift and beauty buying. Splitting a store in this way may not take off, but I think retailers can't ignore the fact that customers are shopping with different mindsets and need experiences that serve them.
  • Posted on: 04/30/2018

    Walgreens tests lower prices, membership savings

    I wonder how much loyalty customers feel towards brands like Walgreens. In that respect the new loyalty scheme seems like a good way to get people to come back -- $20 is a very low charge for a year with significant price benefits. I'm sure those with regular prescription needs will also welcome it and it may help counter competition, especially from online brands. With Sprint, FedEx etc I wonder if they're adding to many disparate services. There's a danger of diluting what customers think Walgreens is there for -- a jack of all trades but a master of none, maybe. I'm also not sure how unique those services are to be considered drivers of traffic.
  • Posted on: 04/30/2018

    Sainsbury and Walmart’s Asda to create grocery powerhouse

    I'm sure Walmart is very pleased with the outcome of the deal, but like others I'm less sure about Sainsbury's. I think the decision to keep the two names is interesting -- perhaps they feel there could be oversaturation if all stores adopted one name? Keeping them separate may give customers a greater sense of choice, even if the ownership is the same. Some customers may be put off by one of the names which could be another reason for keeping them separate to ensure you appeal to as broad a market as possible. I'm sure there'll be some opportunities behind-the-scenes to leverage benefits, but whether they'll be enough to counter the general challenges UK grocery retailers face is another question.
  • Posted on: 04/06/2018

    Thrive Market wants to change the world with new organic meat and seafood line

    It seems like an obvious extension of the Thrive Market offering. The company has laid the groundwork with less sensitive products and now that it has the brand, customer base, logistics, etc. in place it's widening the offering. It's a good way of keeping them in the Thrive Market ecosystem rather than buying their perishables elsewhere and potentially take all their business there. I think as long as the price is right and customers have the freezer space to accommodate the goods then it's worth a try.
  • Posted on: 04/06/2018

    Will micro-designers disrupt fast-fashion giants?

    Micro-designers are well placed to capitalize on a number of trends such as shopping more locally and exclusivity -- people like to have something that not everyone else has. There's also a chance for customers to get in early with a designer who may go onto bigger things. I think fast fashion serves a different purpose for a lot of people, which is to literally get on new trends quickly. This audience may over their lifetime move away from fast fashion, but not towards the traditional designer brands. Micro-designers may help fill that gap. There could also be potential for fast fashion brands to do some sort of collaboration with micro-designers.

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