PROFILE

Neil Saunders

Managing Director, GlobalData
Neil is Managing Director of GlobalData’s retail division.

In this role he oversees the development of the company’s retail proposition and its research output. He also works with clients to help them understand the retail, shopper and market landscape – advising them on how best to develop, evolve and implement business strategies.

Prior to GlobalData, Neil worked at retail research firm Verdict for ten years. He latterly held the post of board director with responsibility for Consulting, Corporate Development and Planning.

Before Verdict, Neil worked for the John Lewis Partnership where he was involved, among other things, in the planning and relocation of new stores, the development of the ecommerce business, and the creation of technical and information systems.

Before moving to the United States, Neil served as a non-executive board director for the Great Western Railway – a role he held for just under 11 years. He currently serves as an advisory board member for the faculty of business and law at the University of Southampton, as an Honorary Lecturer at the University of New Hampshire, and as a Visiting Fellow at the University of Surrey.

For more information, visit: www.globaldata.com/
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  • Posted on: 04/20/2018

    Walmart ditching khakis for jeans in dress code test

    The most important thing is for staff to be visible so customers can identify them if they need assistance. So long as that requirement is met along with people being clean and neat, I don't think there is too much customer concern over what Walmart associates wear. Other retailers may have stricter dress codes, but jeans are usually acceptable in most modern establishments. I was in Nordstrom yesterday and saw a clerk in the shoe department helping some customers. He was wearing a white open shirt, a smart jacket, and jeans. The whole ensemble looked like it had come from Nordstrom, which it probably did! In other words, it looked entirely appropriate.
  • Posted on: 04/20/2018

    CVS gets real without retouching in new beauty campaign

    CVS may not be retouching its advertising, but it should retouch its tired, down-at-heel stores. They could do with a makeover! In seriousness, I do think there's something in the approach CVS is taking and that it will resonate. I am just not sure CVS will ever be the destination of choice for beauty when it makes so little effort with its retail proposition.
  • Posted on: 04/19/2018

    How will Amazon replace Whole Foods’ rewards program?

    Like a lot of Whole Foods things, the loyalty program was ineffective and rather lackluster. On the app the other day, there was one coupon available in my store -- yes, just one! I also very rarely received discounts at the register. Amazon will do a much better job, and indeed it already has with its generous cashback rewards for Prime credit card holders. The new scheme is also likely to be linked to Prime and will probably be available to all members, not just Prime credit card owners. Behind the scenes, Amazon will make good use of the data it is gathering. Maybe Whole Foods did something with the data it collected, but I never saw much evidence of it!
  • Posted on: 04/19/2018

    Starbucks to close shops for racial bias training

    Starbucks has done the right thing by taking this seriously and rolling out training. It has also taken a firm stand and made it clear that the actions in Philadelphia have no place in its culture. Starbucks is a decent corporation and I believe that its remorse and willingness to solve the problem are both genuine. Sadly no amount of training will completely eliminate discrimination or mean-spiritedness in the corporate world. A much bigger cultural shift is needed for that.
  • Posted on: 04/18/2018

    Honoring women

    Happy business anniversary to you both! That's a fantastic achievement!
  • Posted on: 04/18/2018

    Best Buy and Amazon expand their coopetition

    Best Buy is a distribution channel for Amazon; Amazon products generate sales for Best Buy. There's no reason the two should not work together and do so on a friendly basis. In my view, heightened competition is actually driving more cooperation.
  • Posted on: 04/18/2018

    Honoring women

    The solution to this is simple, at least in theory: recruit on merit, promote on merit, and ensure that opportunities are open to all and that all are encouraged to advance as far as their talent and desire will take them. Admittedly, putting that into practice in a world where bias does exist is somewhat more difficult. Let's remember that there are many great women in retail doing a fantastic job: Ulta's Mary Dillon, Build-A-Bear's Sharon Price John, Williams Sonoma's Laura Alber, TJX's Carol Meyrowitz, Apple's Angela Ahrendts, Children's Place's Jane Elfers, Kingfisher's Véronique Laury, and so on. Interestingly, most of those retailers listed have outperformed the market! Is it because women are at the helm? Maybe. But it completely proves that women are more than up to the job!
  • Posted on: 04/18/2018

    Who will fill the retailing void left by Toys ‘R’ Us?

    Some of these suggestions are plain odd. Dollar stores -- really? Maybe Five Below, but even that's pushing it. Shoppers may have bought some toys there, but what they bought was different to what they would have purchased at Toys "R" Us. I can see the logic in Barnes & Noble, but it has a lot of work to do to pull in the ex-Toys "R" Us crowd. The truth is that Target, Walmart, and Amazon are in prime position to pick up a lot of the spoils. Despite what the Motley Fool author claims, there are very few products that Toys "R" Us sold that Walmart or Target would not sell. Both also have many stores in close proximity to shuttered Toys "R" Us shops. The remainder of the share will go to a whole host of other players, including independents. You'll also see some other winners too: buybuy Baby, Burlington's Baby Depot for baby products; Michaels, Hobby Lobby, AC Moore, and Jo-Ann for crafting; Gap Kids, Osh Kosh, Carters and so in clothing; perhaps even places like Guitar Center which offers kids musical instruments.
  • Posted on: 04/17/2018

    Has Google found a formula for undercutting Amazon’s product search advantage?

    I have mixed views on this. While it is a clear step up by Google, I do not believe that the experience begins to match that of Amazon. The reason is that Amazon has extremely strict requirements for things like information provision, data structuring, distribution options, pricing levels, and so forth. While this creates a lot of work for vendors, it allows Amazon to create a very uniform customer experience. In turn, this fosters trust and means Amazon is reliable. Although it is more embryonic, the Google experience is more haphazard. In the end, that means a less unified customer experience.
  • Posted on: 04/17/2018

    Meijer works to keep up with Kroger and Walmart with ‘Shop & Scan’ tech

    I don't think this will become the norm for a very long time. Scan and shop with handheld scanners provided by the store have been around in the UK for years, but many still don't use them. Why? They find them annoying, they worry they'll do something wrong, they like talking to staff at the register, they can't be bothered to sign up, and so on. All that said, this is another choice in allowing people to pick how they shop. That's a good thing. However, we must resist the temptation to see every new bit of technology as fundamentally reshaping and dominating the shopping experience. Change rarely works like that.
  • Posted on: 04/17/2018

    Does Walmart need to keep Jet.com around?

    Talk of getting rid of Jet.com arises from a misunderstanding of how Walmart is using the brand. As a stand-alone entity, Jet.com naturally wanted to attract as many customers as it could. Marketing spend reflected this. Under Walmart, Jet.com is a more focused entity which targets specific consumers (mainly younger, urban shoppers) that Walmart finds it hard to reach. I don't see Jet.com as either under threat or as useless. However, its role and purpose have changed, and will likely to continue to evolve under Walmart as it becomes a more seamless part of Walmart's proposition.
  • Posted on: 04/13/2018

    Will electric vehicles prove a bane or a boon for c-stores and energy drinks?

    The Audi brand accounts for around 1.29% of all US auto sales. In 2017, electric vehicles accounted for 1.3% of Audi's U.S. total sales. As of January and February of this year, sales of Audi's electric vehicles are down around 68% year-over-year. Seems to be that there is some political over-egging in Audi's statement!
  • Posted on: 04/13/2018

    Will electric vehicles prove a bane or a boon for c-stores and energy drinks?

    I am not sure where the quarter of all car sales being electric comes from. However, the latest data I have seen shows that electric vehicles account for just 1.2 percent of total U.S. sales (source: ev-volumes.com). As such, I think this is a fluff piece by Morgan Stanley that has identified a "problem" that is many years off and which, by then, may not even be an issue at all as CPG distribution strategies may have changed.
  • Posted on: 04/13/2018

    REI lifts the sustainability bar

    This type of move is completely in line with REI's ethos as a company. Certainly, some of the requirements might be difficult to attain, but REI will work with suppliers to raise standards. And the changes should also ultimately help to strengthen sales as they further differentiate REI from rivals. All that said, REI's success isn't just down to sustainability or its ethical stance. It is also a very good merchant with excellent standards in everything from store displays to customer service. That, plus its social credentials, make it a hit!
  • Posted on: 04/13/2018

    Backstage shops star inside Macy’s

    The purpose of Backstage is twofold. First, it is a format which gives Macy’s access to the popular off-price part of the market. Second, it provides Macy’s with a channel to clear down excess and unsold inventory. Both of these things make it a worthy venture. As a stand-alone concept, I am a fan. However, I remain more skeptical about adding Backstage to full-line stores. From our customer data, we see evidence that such a move pulls customers away from the full price offering at stores and ends up cannibalizing sales. It also sends confusing messages to the customer about the Macy's brand. True, it may generate short-term sales, but it could ultimately damage the health of larger stores in the long-term. What's more, I am skeptical of the numbers being bandied about. I expect they have been measured over the robust period in the run-up to the holidays when trade in all segments of the market was on the up.

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