PROFILE

Lee Peterson

EVP Thought Leadership, Marketing, WD Partners

After over 30 years as a merchant at Limited Brands, a retailer and a retail consultant, Lee brings an innovative approach to strategic assessment and brand development across diverse industries. He is particularly in tune with cultural trends, consumer demographics, and buying behavior. This experience gives Lee a well-rounded and informed approach to brand development and designing customer-focused retail and restaurant experiences. Lee wholeheartedly believes that stores must perform for the retailers, as well as consumers.

At WD Partners, he leads an experienced group of creative retail designers and strategists working on brand and prototype development for such clients as Wal-Mart, The North Face, Starbucks, Gatorade, Red Bull, Best Buy, New Balance, Safeway, Home Depot, Culver’s, Bob Evans, Whole Foods Market, eMart, Co-op Mart, Mimi’s Cafe and LensCrafters. Lee also leads WD’s marketing team which produces their web site, white papers and all marketing communications.

His comments have appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Forbes, Fast Company, and on American Public Media’s Marketplace, as well as in industry magazines such as VM+SD, Brandweek, Chain Leader, QSR, Restaurants & Institutions, Nation’s Restaurant News, and Chain Store Age. Lee is also a frequent speaker on retail issues and trends. He is currently serving on the editorial board of VM+SD, a retail design trade magazine.  He is also an avid cyclist, outdoor enthusiast and lover of Nantucket Island.

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Chicago born, globally educated, 30+ years as a retailer and retail consultant, hammerhead cyclist
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  • Posted on: 07/17/2019

    Has Prime Day become America’s cue to shop for back-to-school?

    To me, it's just mind blowing the way Amazon created an "event" day in the middle of the summer. Retail has been a huge part of the American economy for what, 150 years? And no one came up with anything like this for those "beach ball days" of summer sales and low profits. Whether it kicks off BTS or is just an excuse to purchase at a great price, all of retail now has a big event in the middle of a perennial dead period. Hats off to the 900-pound gorilla. Now can you guys fix January?
  • Posted on: 07/16/2019

    CEO says Walmart’s stores are the answer to Amazon – at least for groceries

    I've long felt that if Bezos had a bullseye in his strategy lair, it'd have Walmart's grocery business right in the middle of it. $254 billion worth, by the far the world's largest. And they've been protecting it nicely, so far. But in the end, it's going to be home delivery, quality upgrades and BOPIS that's going to help them fight the 900-pound gorilla. Having said that, Amazon has won every game it's played and when it hasn't, it has bailed quickly (Fire Phone, Fresh, etc). So as has been said in sports many times, "it ain't over" by any means and I don't see them backing off that bullseye any time soon. Au contraire!
  • Posted on: 07/03/2019

    What does ‘patriotic’ mean for brands and retailers?

    This is all about understanding who your customer is. Whether it's right or left, if you know that the people that love your brand feel strongly about something, then damn the torpedoes! (My dad taught me that expression.) Charge ahead full throttle. I also think it says something about a brand that has the guts to say, "this is who we are." That their faith in what they feel is right is powerful enough to withstand the blasts from those that disagree. So all in all, go for it, tell us who you are and who you aren't. Better brand definition is always a good thing. Wishy-washy is not.
  • Posted on: 07/02/2019

    Are offline experiences becoming more important to online performance?

    It'll always be important to go out and actually talk to your customers. I don't care how much business you do online, talking to the people that buy your goods is an experience you just can't get from any quant OR quals study. Seems obvious, but I believe it has been the downfall of many retailers. That's one reason why any retailer, brick or click, will always need physical stores.
  • Posted on: 07/01/2019

    Rent the Runway lands inside Nordstrom

    This is what department stores do, isn't it? Get a hot idea in, draw traffic, sell them a bunch of goods. Right? Seems over the years they've lost that sensibility and have somehow stuck to a "we're apparel sellers," um, on sale, mentality. Whereas, the thinking needs to be (is now?): RtR is a good idea, of course they should be in our store! Just like Nordstrom's is actually executing.
  • Posted on: 06/28/2019

    What real value are influencers bringing to retailers and brands?

    The best influencer has always been a satisfied customer. It makes sense to pay them if you think about it: it's way better to hear the truth (operative term) straight from a happy customer than a Verizon or Spectrum spokesperson or 30 dancing actors, and it's cheaper too. I'd just be careful of overdoing it, like any ad campaign. Speak the truth, then get out of my face and let me decide for myself.
  • Posted on: 06/27/2019

    The data and analytics talk that must stop

    CX is one of the new buzz terms. It was "omni-channel" a bit ago, "brand" before that. Kind of makes me chuckle a little as nine times out of 10, it's just another way of gathering around a phrase that means "fundamentals." A "customer experience" has been around since Roman markets, it's just more complicated we say -- but is it really? The simple key in both cases was/is to empathize with the customer at every touch point. Put yourself in their shoes or better yet, get out/in there and watch them at every touch point and if you're any good, you'll "get" what needs to be done pretty quick, no matter what you want to call it. Most buzz terms (including those listed above) are so nebulous they could mean 1,000 things, which makes them great consultant fodder. But in the end, it always boils down to basic fundamentals. Yes, even "AI", another hot one. Looking forward to the next buzz term, I could use a good laugh.
  • Posted on: 06/26/2019

    Is complaining about customer service becoming America’s national pastime?

    This reminds me of the current bank conundrum: banks spent 30 years driving people to auto tellers, but now they want customers back in their branches. Mega challenge. Retailers did the same thing, creating self-service (see also: none) "warehouses" where "sorry customer, you're on your own!" was driven into their minds. So guess what? They're angry. That was a BAD move, a dark period in the history of retail. Of course there's complaining. 30 years of NO service, or basically demoting the importance of CS and CX behind operations and logistics, not sure what was expected. It's going to be a long road back, buckle up, retailers!
  • Posted on: 06/25/2019

    Did Amazon just ‘turn up the heat’ on rivals with its Prime Day announcement?

    I'm sure this'll kick AMZN's record revenues even higher this year, but I also believe it'll help ALL retailers. They basically did traditional retailers a favor by waking them up to the idea that you can pick a very slow time of year and speed it up with and "event" (vs just plain sales prices) that drives sales. We used to say that "feeding frenzies are a good thing" and that's basically what the 900 lb gorilla has done. Too many zoo references? Perhaps not! :-)
  • Posted on: 06/25/2019

    Toys ‘R’ Us prepares its American comeback

    Unless they go to something very original, like a showroom model, you can just use and old New York-ism for this: fahgedaboudit!
  • Posted on: 06/24/2019

    REI scraps mail order catalog to publish a magazine

    I like this move in that it brings them closer to being a lifestyle brand vs. just some place that sells "stuff." I always admired Abercrombie's Magalog and wondered why they gave up on it as it covered everything their customer was interested in very creatively. I would suspect that REI will really be able to connect with their constituents like they have with their closing on Black Friday. Can't wait to pick it up.
  • Posted on: 06/21/2019

    Did Apple just hand Best Buy the keys to its retailing empire?

    They just outsourced repair. Smart. Spend more energy on the experience of their spaces themselves vs people in line to fix things. Great move.
  • Posted on: 06/20/2019

    Should retailers welcome Facebook’s virtual currency?

    There's just so much we (us normal people) don't know about cryptocurrency, it's very hard to make a call on whether or not we'd use it right now. Happy to be a fast second to this party! Facebook's rep sure doesn't help, but perhaps this will course correct for them. Long way to go IMO. Clever name though, for sure.
  • Posted on: 06/18/2019

    Former Snapchat and Quidsi execs come up with possible rival to Amazon

    They're kidding, right? Stitch Fix, a little bit, but this? Better off keeping that VC money, y'all!
  • Posted on: 06/18/2019

    Are Shark Tank-like competitions a path to retail innovation?

    Well hell yes! But ... how are the "idea" people going to get paid? When debating an hourly fee once, we told a customer that we could give them several worthless ideas, but one of them, only one of them, could save or make them millions. Therefore, our fees are tiny in comparison. Same is true here. Begs to ask the old HR question: what's in it for me?

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