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: 01/14/2022

    Can the metaverse solve retail’s returns challenges?

    Meta in Greek means "beyond," but it sure doesn't mean "the answer to all our problems." Remember when Prada and Levi's put "fit machines" in their stores about 20 years ago? Too early. To me fit is SO nuanced, there's at least 40 different measurements involved (sadly, I know this). I'm afraid it's going to be hard to rely on the beyond world to help solve this issue. Seems more like the cost of doing business going forward. I.e.: having to figure out how to make up for it elsewhere.
  • Posted on: 01/14/2022

    Will NFTs, Kanye West and high-fashion collabs help Gap get its groove back?

    I wouldn't bet on it. Has anyone seen sales numbers on that blue button-/zipper-less coat they put out last year? I saw it marked down but never heard any braggadocio about it. Can you say, grasping at straws?
  • Posted on: 01/13/2022

    Can Penney’s new leadership (finally) transform the business?

    The reason you see Abercrombie or Victoria's Secret starting to turn around is predominantly because of consumer perception of the brand, not the executives. J.C. Penney has the same issue, only in a reverse direction. Just one question: have you ever, I mean ever, heard a Millennial or Gen Zer even mention the name J.C. Penney before? Sure, they might get some pops from obvious improvements, including talent, but at the end of the day half the people in the country wouldn't set foot in a J.C. Penney. It's great they're upgrading, but 25 years ago would've been the time for a re-do.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2022

    More Americans are making Target runs

    Target committed billions of dollars to store remodels starting in 2018 and it's paying off. The classic example of what NOT to do was Sears, putting no effort towards stores whatsoever, and we all know how that ended. Another reason could be their local stores, where it's easier and more convenient to shop, especially with work from home being so prevalent. Good foresight, that's the simple answer. Credit goes entirely to their strategic thinking.
  • Posted on: 01/11/2022

    Will JD.com’s robotic shops shake up retailing in the West?

    So -- dark stores, essentially. Order online, pick up or have delivered. Isn't Chipotle (among many others) doing this now? It's a long overdue test that many U.S. retailers have been slow to employ, but one that's a scaled eventuality. In a recent survey we did, "dark" stores (pickup and delivery only) like ochama scored very high with consumers so frankly, not sure why someone (Amazon?) isn't rolling them out.
  • Posted on: 01/10/2022

    Has BOPIS lost its pandemic boost?

    Just read where Walmart did 25% of ALL BOPAS business this holiday. From my take, that's because they've been working on it the longest and have got the bugs out. BOPAS is NOT going to go away and frankly, will be a huge part of dark store business. This is a consumer-driven shopping option, let's not forget that, so fortunately or unfortunately, retailers will HAVE to offer said consumers multiple ways to do business with them, and this is certainly a big one.
  • Posted on: 01/07/2022

    Will 15-minute cities truly bring back local retail?

    I believe this is the future, not only for living but shopping/retail as well. We recently did a study with 2,700 consumers and their main preference for shopping was "local" (within two miles), driven by the work from home phenomenon. After looking at the results and then talking to consumers, Moreno's idea already has approval in a big way. Gone are the days of driving 12 miles to a parking lot and coming back three hours later, UNLESS you really want to. Remember, you don't have to go to stores anymore, you have to want to go to stores, and the 15 minute city (walkable stores) is spot-on thinking for the 21st century.
  • Posted on: 01/06/2022

    Is retail ready for the phygital future?

    Billions in e-commerce and phygital efforts later, I still think the best brand experience you can get is talking to an actual person. But I guess that's beside the point. I've used Oculus and other AR/3-D tools many times as we employ them to help show our designs to clients but, that's a LOT different than an average customer's shopping experience. This is an "OK Boomer" comment but, the 3-D world, including everything mentioned in the piece, seems great for fun (like gaming, duh). For a true in-store vibe? I don't know the metaverse that well so far, but I just don't think we're there yet.
  • Posted on: 01/04/2022

    Omicron threatens to mess retail up

    Target fulfills e-com out of their stores, which is the issue there -- they have publicly announced that supply chain was not an issue and I can testify, since Whole Foods was purchased by Amazon, their shelves are bare all the time, that's an algorithm issue (or someone that knows nothing about G stores), several pubs ran stories about supply chain not being an issue for retailers -- hence my comments. We recently did a survey of over 2500 people asking their preferred method of shopping going forward: it was e-com for 68% of them. The most egregious thing I ran into was charging ridiculous prices to ship (AMZN), seemed like they just didn't want to. Anyway, thx for the comments, fun discussion, but as a consumer/family: we scored 100%, and fast.
  • Posted on: 01/04/2022

    Omicron threatens to mess retail up

    Sorry, but I just can't think like this anymore. With the dominant form of preferred shopping now being online, what's to stop you from getting what you want no matter what happens? Remember the "supply chain" issues? You know, the ones that never happened? I think retailers are so much more savvy than say five years ago, they will overcome Omicron with excellent e-commerce (including AI), BOPAS, next-day shipping and whatever it takes to get goods to consumers. We are NOT reliant on physical space anymore so, if the consumer is at home due to illness or fear of it, and you have what they want/need -- so what?
  • Posted on: 01/03/2022

    Hy-Vee creates its own armed security squad to deter crime

    On the whole, sadly, a move like this would definitely improve things -- but it is another blow to the idea of physical shopping both from a customer perspective (can you imagine seeing those mass run-outs in person?) and from a retailer's cost base. Also you have to ask, from a bigger, social picture, why is this happening? The answers are complex and not only up to retailers to fix.
  • Posted on: 12/30/2021

    Are in-person trade shows safe (enough)?

    I am going to NRF but waiting for the cancellation to come in. They are taking all the right precautions, but it may not be entirely up to the organizers as the Javitz Center is run by the State of New York. We shall see, but we definitely have our hands on the rip cord.
  • Posted on: 12/27/2021

    Should customers be offered discounts to keep returns?

    As many of you know I'm sure, Amazon's approach is often to just say "keep it" at no charge vs. returning something as stated. But if you've stolen something and you're trying to return it, forget about it.
  • Posted on: 12/20/2021

    Will localized e-commerce work for malls?

    Between this and an amalgamated pickup site for all stores in the mall I can only think one thing: what took you so long? We've known BOPAS works for a good five years now and e-commerce for 15. As Bezos said, "if you don't lean into the future, the future will win every time."
  • Posted on: 12/16/2021

    Peloton laughs through a ‘Big’ problem

    The problem is actually bigger than the SATC episode. There are literally thousands of their bikes on Craigslist and eBay now. That says "tried it, don't like it" in a big way. Still, bet they have a boffo holiday. Most of us are still at home and it doesn't look like we're going to be "free to roam" for the foreseeable future.

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