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.

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  • Posted on: 09/21/2018

    Will the EU’s anticompetitive investigation follow Amazon back to the U.S.?

    Why has something got to give? Amazon is big because people use them. If people stop using them, their power fades. These same arguments were once used of Walmart. And of Microsoft (which the EU vigorously hounded at one point). Both companies are now on the back-foot and are working like crazy to compete. Besides, Amazon bears none of the hallmarks of a monopoly or near monopoly company. It's profits are slim, it is highly innovative and nimble, and there is ample competition in across all of the categories it sells.
  • Posted on: 09/21/2018

    Nike expects sales to take off with launch on

    Jet is now focusing on exactly the type of shoppers that Nike sells to. As such, this partnership is not so much of a surprise. Yes, Jet is owned by Walmart but I am sure Nike understands the point of different brands - after all, it owns many brands itself.
  • Posted on: 09/21/2018

    Why don’t retailers concentrate more on selling the Christmas spirit?

    I think most retailers put in at least some effort to creating a holiday spirit. What's critical is ensuring that customer service remains on point in a very busy and potentially stressful time. If you get that wrong, you undo any good from nice decoration and jolly music. The most laughable approach to the holidays I have noticed comes from Sears. Most stores seem to have been assigned five or so long red pieces of cloth which they hang from the ceiling. It's a case of better not to bother than embarrass yourself!
  • Posted on: 09/21/2018

    Will the EU’s anticompetitive investigation follow Amazon back to the U.S.?

    I have very little respect for EU authorities. They are highly aggressive with U.S. technology companies, their positions are often illogical and they have no clue of how markets actually work. Whether Amazon can use data from its marketplace is a matter of the contract between Amazon and third-party sellers. It's a private agreement and should have nothing to do with government.
  • Posted on: 09/20/2018

    Would you believe older men with lower incomes are the new drivers of online sales growth?

    I don't agree that there is a massive opportunity for the dollar channel online, as is stated in the article. There is some, but the low margin, high volume model does not lend itself to the high cost nature of online fulfillment. Moreover, how may electronics, sporting and automotive products - which is what these "new" shoppers supposedly want - are sold by dollar stores. Not many, because the prices for all of these items are way above the dollar (or even $5) mark.
  • Posted on: 09/20/2018

    Amazon tries to deflect political attacks

    Gee, politicians are so annoying! Mr. Bezos has a first amendment right to own the Washington Post. The Trump administration should respect that and not use its power to threaten the Amazon business because WaPo says things that it might not like. It's both unconstitutional and childish. As for Bernie, while he seems nice enough, I think he's pretty clueless in terms of how the real world works. Amazon, like Walmart before it, has created growth, jobs, opportunities and prosperity. It has also provided a great service that customers love using. If conditions and pay at Amazon's establishments was so dire then they'd never get so many people to work there - not in this kind of labor market.
  • Posted on: 09/20/2018

    What would 3,000 AmazonGo stores do to the U.S. retail landscape?

    With a few exceptions, convenience retail is not done well in the U.S. -- especially in urban areas. I think there is an opportunity for any player to make more of an impact here. That includes Amazon which, because of its technology, has a model that could prove to be more disruptive than a traditional player making a move on the market. I see this as a threat to both convenience retail players like 7-Eleven and the drugstores. It is also something of a threat to outlets like Pret a Manger -- although because consumers tend to vary their lunchtime purchases, there is less scope to become a dominant force in this part of the market. The challenge for Amazon will be securing all of the sites and rolling out the technology. Three-thousand stores (which seems like a number grabbed out of thin air) will be a tall order. However, numbers aside, there's no doubt that Amazon is going to grow this and it will have an impact.
  • Posted on: 09/19/2018

    Tuft & Needle and Native knew their first products fell short

    I think the message is: get on with it and dive right in! That said, it is clear that while both of these brands had products that were not perfect, neither were they completely defective - they just weren't as good as they wanted them to be. It is probably easier for Native to follow this kind of strategy - mainly because deodorant is regularly purchased. So if people try and don't like it, it is no big deal. You just need to persuade them to try again when you reformulate. For Tuft & Needle it is probably different: mattresses are expensive and infrequent purchases. So something that's less than great can cause serious brand issues. That's presumably why Tuft & Needle offered a good return policy. In that way, I don't think they were being dishonest or ripping off the customer.
  • Posted on: 09/19/2018

    People don’t like being lumped into marketing segments

    While it's kind of obvious that most people would not want to be lumped into an amorphous group, the problem is actually that traditional segmentations are becoming less relevant. Society is much more fragmented that it used to be and it is far more difficult to predict how someone will behave based on income, age, location and so forth. Certainly there will be some commonalities -- parents will buy baby and kids stuff, for example -- but outside of that, patterns of behavior vary enormously. This atomization means that marketing needs to be a lot more personalized and a lot less assumptive. However, getting the data to drive this can be challenging.
  • Posted on: 09/19/2018

    Are Aldi’s customers who you think they are?

    The downturn of 2008 changed a lot of things, among them attitudes about shopping. There is now very little stigma to shopping at value players and discounters, indeed, it is seen as savvy. That's why Aldi's customer base has, for a long time, consisted of a wide mix of demographics and income groups. Some of these groups like low prices but also value the convenience of home delivery; this service is aimed at them. By offering discounts on the service Aldi will damage margins, but it will also help it to grow market share as it will likely increase the frequency of shop. That said, partnering with Instacart is a low-cost option for entering the delivery market, which allows Aldi to leave its simple no-frills business model intact.
  • Posted on: 09/18/2018

    Retailers need seasonal workers, but do workers need retailers?

    I think hiring is going to be tough for retailers this year. Consumer demand is up, so the number of positions also seems to be up. Yet the labor market is very tight. And with more consumers feeling better off, the necessity for some to work or take on extra hours is reduced. Retailers are going to have to get creative with perks and benefits to secure the best talent.
  • Posted on: 09/18/2018

    Macy’s expands in-store pop-up concept with Facebook’s help

    Macy's is moving in the right direction and it is pleasing to see management try and test new things as well as advance existing ideas. However, the issue I always have with Macy's is that while this all sounds good, the reality on the ground - especially in more remote stores - is still lackluster and down-at-heel. Macy's talks a good game, but it needs to pull these initiatives together into a coherent strategy to defend its department store business.
  • Posted on: 09/18/2018

    Will competition force all grocers to offer free store pickup?

    The direction of this is very clear: order online and pickup in-store is becoming more of a battleground. That inevitably means fees for the service will come down or be eliminated. The issue is that there is a very real cost to picking products for customers. It is time-consuming and labor intensive. Even if the process is automated, there are still costs involved, not least the capital cost of the new warehouse equipment. I have said it before and I will say it again, the move to digital in grocery is margin and profit eroding. Unfortunately, having a digital proposition is also a necessity in terms of maintaining and growing market share.
  • Posted on: 09/17/2018

    Are grocers shortchanging flexitarians?

    If retail sales of plant-based foods are growing by as much as is estimated, then retailers can't be doing a completely terrible job. This is definitely a growth area but, like anything, it will take time for manufactures and grocers to reach potential. Some, like Whole Foods, Sprouts and Wegmans, have been good at this for some time. Others are playing catch-up.
  • Posted on: 09/17/2018

    What will a ‘new standard for green retail’ mean for Starbucks’ results?

    This is good for the environment, good for customers, and good for Starbucks' bottom line. One particularly important aspect is store design and its impact on wellbeing. Starbucks' older stores are, in my opinion, fairly grotty and leave a lot to be desired in terms of creating an atmosphere in which to work or linger. I have seen a lot of refurbished stores and these are much better in terms of the use of light and natural materials, noise levels, and general ambience.

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