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
  • Posted on: 05/03/2021

    Do retailers have to catch up to Amazon’s logistics powerhouse?

    We just fielded a study, 2100 consumers across the US, same demo. One question was, "what will be your primary form of shopping moving forward?" 60% said online vs stores. So, if omnichannel (BOPIS) is so big, the question is, how long will it take for many of the "stores" to become fulfillment centers?
  • Posted on: 05/03/2021

    Do retailers have to catch up to Amazon’s logistics powerhouse?

    Amazon is now the "Kleenex" of retail. A majority of consumers go to them first for just about ANY purchase, for a plethora of reasons that with the exception of a few massive players like Walmart, will be impossible to take on head to head. What retailers should focus on going forward is what Amazon CAN'T do, like better service (in home?), excellent employees, proprietary brands (like Target), and neighborhood stores with a keen eye on fulfillment (a staple now). A toe-to-toe with Amazon is a recipe for disaster. I am reminded of a Sam Walton expression during their heyday of fear from most retailers, he said, "it's easy to compete with us, just do what we don't do." -- easier said than done with Amazon, but definitely a spot on strategy.
  • Posted on: 04/23/2021

    Will Americans go shopping for dressier clothes as the COVID-19 threat is reduced?

    Boy, I don't know, sure is nice being surrounded by soft cotton vs. a buttoned down collar on the tight side. Sure, we're all going to get somewhat more dressed up -- we'll have to, but one of the upsides of the pandemic has been the realization that you can do just about anything in awfully relaxed apparel. That said, I don't think there's any doubt that there will be a pretty big boost to apparel sales across the board. I mean, at the very least, we all need to upgrade. Even the sweatpants are beat up now! Then there's the thought of going out. Think of it, we're going OUT! But in the long run, the casualization of America, started in California by the like of the Gap and others, will continue, maybe even expand.
  • Posted on: 04/22/2021

    Are associates better than influencers for shopping livestreams?

    We're so far behind in this form of selling we need to try both to see what works best, and that may vary by retailer. Alibaba announced that they did $44 billion in live streaming last year and pretty much crickets from us, so big opportunity IMO. One thing we learned from shooting videos: your best public speaker or top exec is not necessarily your best video star. You'll be surprised -- some of your part time help may be amazing on camera, you just never know. So, like everything else today, test and learn, test and learn.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2021

    Is Athleta’s Canadian expansion a stretch for the Gap-owned chain?

    Hey Kevin, nothing personal, just business. I recall Express, Victoria's Secret, Target and other retailers hyping their Canadian expansion only to close up later or pfft, no more news. Remember? And you have 7 NHL teams because Canadians (and maybe Swedes) are the best in the world at hockey, hands down, so comping that to Canuck retail is a bit of a stretch. But tell you what, as a life long 'Hawks fan, I'll remember the 38 number, thx.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2021

    Is Athleta’s Canadian expansion a stretch for the Gap-owned chain?

    American retailers always make a big deal out of going to Canada. Dude, there's only 30 million people up there TOTAL. A couple of stores in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver and get out of Dodge, why not? But don't count on "Canadian Expansion" for a big revenue boost -- ever.
  • Posted on: 04/19/2021

    Target looks to elevate its ship-from-store operations

    Two things: the long tail of e-commerce; how do you fill that from a store? According to Amazon, that's 18 percent to 20 percent of orders. Do you stock that in store? Pretty much can't without large capital expense, so, how does that work? Long tail = longer? Something to figure out yet IMO. Secondly, that aside, having ordered from our "local" (within five miles) Target and received goods in less than 20 minutes, that's really hard to beat! And the word of mouth PR they're getting from that is extraordinary. So, all in all, with that big plus combined with the fact that the long tail needs to be solved in the meantime, their model is worth looking at across the retail spectrum. Positives outweigh the negatives by far.
  • Posted on: 04/16/2021

    Amazon aims to add best employer tag to its most customer centric reputation

    If there's one thing we should've all learned this century it's this: NEVER underestimate Amazon. Given that, they may achieve that "best employer" goal. Sure they have a long way to go, but it'd be a mistake to count them out.
  • Posted on: 04/14/2021

    Is e-grocery killing or inspiring impulse buys?

    I remember the good old days (like five years ago), walking through a Whole Foods and seeing a stubbed roman pillar with mounds of chocolate on it. What person in their right mind wouldn't just grab some of that, especially since you were offered a taste? Those days are over, and the algorithms that give you "if you like this, you'll like this" just don't work for grocery impulse yet. Can it get there? Sure, but it's a long way from mounds of enticing chocolate right now.
  • Posted on: 04/13/2021

    Toms finds one-for-one charitable model doesn’t add up for its business

    Marketing always works best in it's simplest forms: BOGO, 50 percent off, Just Do It, Prime Day, and one-for-one, just to name a few. But "one-third of profits" is a pretty vague, complex statement. What does that mean? Are "profits" what's left over after the CEO makes an unreasonable salary? Or the money guys get their share? A lot of cynical questions can come to mind. I would suggest they go back to the drawing board and consider the simple and profound message that worked the first time and try to match its clarity, albeit with a little less "oomph," in order to keep the doors open.
  • Posted on: 04/12/2021

    Amazon’s Prime Day is coming earlier and possibly twice

    I love how brutally competitive Amazon is. Copycats beware! Since everyone and their sibling took advantage of the Prime Day coattails last year, it looks like this is an "Oh yeah? Try this." move. Especially the snap back to June element. Can all the competitors that had similar events last year move that quick and, on top of that, afford to do it twice? That's a lot of pressure, which again is something you like to see, especially from a consumer perspective. There's no doubt now who's got retail by the reigns, so stay frosty out there!
  • Posted on: 04/09/2021

    Is Levi’s poised to become a consumer-direct powerhouse?

    Talk about cred. And by the way, that's what it takes: credibility brought on by authenticity brought on by years of excellence. So to answer the question, how many brands can say that? Very few, but those that have that type of cred are in a prime position to call their own shots in the DTC world: Patagonia, Yeti, Nike, Rapha, Wegmans and even Target now. Levi's is going to do just fine this century, as long as they don't open too many stores. Careful on that one!
  • Posted on: 04/07/2021

    Amazon goes shopping at the mall

    Absolutely. Who doesn't like cheap real estate in good locations with plenty of parking? We have a closing B center here that would make a perfect distribution location. It is surrounded by well-off suburbs. Talk about taking a bite out of last-mile cost AND improving speed to target customers; it's a no-brainer. I expect a big smile on that old J.C. Penney location any day now.
  • Posted on: 04/06/2021

    What will 80,000 closed stores mean for America’s retailers?

    HBD, Gene!!
  • Posted on: 04/06/2021

    What will 80,000 closed stores mean for America’s retailers?

    Smaller, better. That's the future of physical retail. Sure, fewer, but with the addition of fulfillment for many implies physically smaller as well -- and why not? Showroom stores have been well accepted by consumers and should be more-so by operators. But "better" is also key; customer service, design, brand right entertainment, digital that aids physical (apps) . . . there are countless technologies now that can help physical retail flow well in the 21st century, let's get on with it! There's nothing wrong with having fewer stores if in fact, they're better. Nothing about this downsizing is negative to me.

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