PROFILE

Lee Peterson

EVP Brand, Strategy & Design, 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: 08/14/2018

    ‘Less is more’ when competing with Amazon

    Curation is the ONLY strategy in an Amazon world. Do one thing and do it really well. Why do we think department stores or J.C. Penney are doing poorly? Or why do we think Walmart and Target are scrambling to compete? They do many things just OK but, at the same time, get their butts kicked on the convenience side, which is trouble in spades in today's retail environment. One good example is pour-over coffee. There have been four or five coffee shops opened in Columbus, Ohio (yeah, Columbus) in the last couple of years. Lines out the door. Opening more stores. Why? They do one thing and man do they do it well. Having said that, are you going to compete on the 100 billion to trillion dollar level with that strategy? I guess you could ask Apple and see if it's possible.
  • Posted on: 08/13/2018

    Hy-Vee opens fitness-focused grocery store concept

    We did a satisfaction survey within the top grocers in the U.S. and Hy-Vee scored higher than anyone else by far, and that was before they started trying new ventures like this one. They've got more loyal customers than Publix and that's saying something. I love the way they keep pushing it and to think -- they're in Iowa! This should be a message to all other regional grocers: fail fast, get out there and try new things -- don't let the 900-pound gorilla beat you to it.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2018

    Amazon delivers latest Prime perk to Whole Foods’ curb

    Home delivery of groceries is THE battlefront between Amazon and Walmart going forward. 53 percent of Walmart's business is grocery and they simply must protect that. If Amazon bites into their grocery business due to home delivery, it's going to be a long road for Walmart going forward. BUT, if Walmart can do it first: that's a different story.
  • Posted on: 08/07/2018

    Where does art end and retail begin?

    When were they separate? Maybe that's the problem; too little art, too much retail (like data). Glad to see someone bring it back heavy to one side -- or maybe it's a message to retailers: there's Amazon and Walmart, then there's you -- bring back the art in retail!
  • Posted on: 08/06/2018

    Walmart looks to automate grocery pick-up

    For 4 years now, our surveys have been telling us people want to pull up to a store and have goods put in their trunks and then drive off. NOT to go into said store. So IMO, that's DEF going to be first. But the strategy is excellent to start to deliver to home as well because after a few tastes of that, just like what AMZN did a long time ago, you're going to be just as hooked. It's just going to take longer because face it, we're all rote shoppers at heart. Win Win Walmart -- I think that's my new name for them.
  • Posted on: 08/03/2018

    Empty malls spelled the end for Brookstone stores

    Bygone Brookstone is a symptom of a larger disease: Malls need to get away from 1980s thinking and start to get tenants that matter. Fitness centers, WeWorks, food halls, Bonobos, Warby Parker, Tesla. Just ask the developers of Easton in Columbus, they have them all and are anything but empty. My brother was recently in from San Francisco and never goes to malls. I showed him one and he said, "it hasn't changed in 30 years!" Exactly.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2018

    Who in retailing’s c-suites should drive customer experience?

    The CMO owns the brand and therefore the customer experience. Customer experience IS a brand experience. They are also less likely to make decisions based on ops only which, at this juncture, is a huge mistake. The customer comes first, and the CMO should be the best choice to make decisions based on that premise.
  • Posted on: 08/01/2018

    Kroger Ship to take on Amazon’s Prime Pantry

    This is a good idea as the best customer experience with Kroger is not going to one of their stores. So if they just became a huge warehouse and shipped, they'd probably improve their CX scores threefold! Kroger obviously has a burning platform and Amazon and Walmart will quickly figure out a zero profit model for shipping groceries to put them out of business so, a necessary move as well. I hope it all works for consumers' sake too, as it's still the number one place people dislike shopping. And don't we all know that from our own experiences!
  • Posted on: 07/31/2018

    Walmart still trying to figure out home delivery

    It's going to take some guts because you're not going to profit from it at first or at least until you figure out how to get pervasive golf cart licenses, drone permits and speedy/willing employees on the case. So that takes Kroger and Macy's out of the picture; Walmart might figure it out; Home Depot already has. That leaves us with Amazon and Whole Foods. Oh yeah, they're already doing it. You know who else will figure it out? Starbucks. Oh help me!
  • Posted on: 07/27/2018

    Having little luck with Millennials, J.C. Penney refocuses on middle-age women

    So wait, this suggests that J.C. Penney actually went after Millennial customer? (place uproarious laughter emoji here) Nice try. How about "because we can't/didn't change fast enough for the modern retail economy"? That'd be more like it.
  • Posted on: 07/20/2018

    Retailers and brands collide

    Definitely! There are two things going forward: direct-to-consumer and marketplace. Nike is already WAY ahead of the game in this respect, opening over 500 stores in the last five years under various brand names while simultaneously joining Amazon Marketplace. Brilliant (don't let recent sales softness cloud the long-term play's correctness), but also just modern strategy at its current best. This is clearly how consumers shop now: "I need a pair of Nike's, I'm hitting them first," or "I need some great sneaks, let's see what's out there." Welcome to retail 3.0. Hardest hit will be CPG like P&G, just not as easy for them as their choices are pretty much through grocery / big box or marketplace only. DTC is very tough for them. Hence, they will be at the mercy of the coagulators for some time to come.
  • Posted on: 07/19/2018

    Prime Day success extends beyond Amazon

    One thing I learned from being a retailer for a long time is that NO promotion works for very long, you have to keep 'em coming (unless it's the traditions; Christmas, Black Friday, etc). I see Prime falling into that category within a couple of years -- as a matter of fact, it seems to have lost a little luster (although not revenues) already, AND, competition is quickly catching up. Much less nutty media. It's pure ego to think you can create a "traditional" sale/holiday/special on your own in the middle of nothing for very long, and I don't think Amazon falls into that "huge ego" category. I'd look for them to re-invent it within the next couple of years. Say after one more next year?
  • Posted on: 07/18/2018

    Walmart to take another shot at Netflix and Amazon, too

    I just love the fact that Walmart isn't taking the Amazon juggernaut sitting down. America's most competitive retailer BY FAR. About time a retailer said, "oh yeah? take that." Go Bentonville (never thought I'd have to say that)!
  • Posted on: 07/17/2018

    Abercrombie & Fitch brings pop-ups and more to hotels

    In any case, this is the way retailers need to think. It's not just about the stuff on the shelves and great fragrance anymore, it's about lifestyle and being where your customers are all the time. Fail or not, it's a damned good try IMO. Keep it up.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2018

    Ellison shaking things up at Lowe’s

    Wait, didn't Mr. Ellison just come from J.C. Penney where nothing of note happened on the good side for three years? Even though this job is a little simpler, as in copying whatever Home Depot does, do we really think he can compete with someone so far ahead? I'm betting on a lot of press without much actual progress, just like the last gig. This is one category the retail world and its boards need to overcome: the serial CEO.

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