Carol Spieckerman

President, Spieckerman Retail

Carol Spieckerman is an internationally-recognized authority on retail and brand positioning. She specializes in future-proofing her clients’ retail strategies and positioning them for high-volume success with key retail decision-makers and influencers.  As president and CEO of Spieckerman Retail, she tracks Retail TrajectoriesSM that cut across categories, tiers, environments and borders and transforms them into actionable strategies for her brand marketing, agency, licensing, and technology clients. Carol is an author and regular contributor to leading retail and business media. Her credits include the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Forbes, Dealerscope, Women’s Wear Daily, Bloomberg Business Week, Private Label Buyer and Retail Wire. Carol speaks at corporate and industry events around the world including the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the International Licensing Expo. Her blog, The Right Brain of Retail, is considered a “must-read” by major retailers, brands and suppliers and her retail insights are prominent on Twitter @retailxpert.

  • Posted on: 09/09/2020

    Which COVID-19 consumer habits will stick?

    The term "post-pandemic" is beside the point for now. The focus should be on the transition between active COVID-19 spread (where we are now), any tapering off of infection rates, the development and deployment of an effective vaccine and, finally, potential eradication of the virus. When you look at it that way, the timeframe stretches out considerably, and variables shift along the way. In the meantime, in the absence of a clear national (and global) strategy, polarized habits will become more ingrained. The studies track sensible shifts but may not account for active resistance to sensible actions/habits.
  • Posted on: 09/09/2020

    Is it okay for retailers to ease up on cleaning their stores?

    The real question may be whether retailers should allocate resources away from actual surface cleaning and toward performative cleaning. Shoppers will never know if retailers back off of the vigilance when/where no one is looking, however, keeping up appearances while shoppers are in the store maintains the perception of diligence.
  • Posted on: 08/19/2020

    Walmart keeps growing and growing and …

    In terms of opportunity, Walmart is obviously aware of the need to create pathways between grocery and other categories – category connectivity and “mix” were threads throughout the report. In fact, integrating more categories into Walmart’s existing convenience and delivery platform most likely factors into its delayed launch of the Walmart Plus membership program. Walmart seems to need more time to work out a differentiated value proposition here, one that goes beyond fast groceries and creates more distance from Amazon. Walmart’s budding relationship with Instacart and its current Express two-hour delivery beta also factor into the future of Walmart Plus. Once these additional finishes are applied to the Walmart platform, it will be hard to stop the juggernaut. Walmart’s second-quarter performance may well be an anomaly, but the company is better positioned than most to weather any storms going into Q4.
  • Posted on: 08/17/2020

    Smart home spending to take a temporary hit before surging

    Great point about second homes and COVID-19 escapes, Ben! Also, when those smart second homes are rented out, it can be a powerful motivator for tenants to upgrade their own homes.
  • Posted on: 08/17/2020

    Is Sur La Table too late for the home cooking craze?

    Sur La Table is a brand and companies like Marquee brands are in the business of exploring brand (not necessarily owned retail) options for its portfolio. Licensing, retail partnerships, branded experiences -- all are on the Sur La Table "table" and, no doubt, Marquee is considering a combination.
  • Posted on: 08/17/2020

    Smart home spending to take a temporary hit before surging

    COVID-19 should speed the adoption of smart home technology as higher-income, work-from-home consumers have more exposure to the old-school devices in their homes and more time to explore upgrades. Job/income loss is the main obstacle.
  • Posted on: 08/17/2020

    Can retailers mitigate holiday delivery fee spikes?

    Fortunately, these types of decisions no longer have to be made by actual humans. Enter the algorithms! Retailers have tools to determine which mitigating price strategies make sense by category, by item, and in relation to competitors. An across-the-board dictate isn't realistic or required.
  • Posted on: 08/11/2020

    Will anything slow Aldi and Dollar General’s roll if COVID-19 didn’t?

    Aldi and Dollar General are operating contrarian models that inspired others to rethink the value and future of brick-and-mortar. Both are killing with convenience through pure physical scale and small format dominance. No doubt neither retailer saw the pandemic coming yet both are better poised than most to survive and even thrive during it. Both retailers' prescient moves to focus on fresh are serving them well and shoppers' renewed preference for efficiency and value support Aldi and Dollar General's operating models. Preparedness meets luck.
  • Posted on: 08/11/2020

    Simon sees a big and profitable upside in acquiring retail tenants

    The core is no more. Diversification, particularly business model diversification, is the growth engine of the future for retail. Building brand portfolios is one side of that story, whether the brands are retailers, licensing entities, or former wholesale brands. There is no reason Simon shouldn't snap up struggling retailers, even if it equates to serving as a middle man to Amazon.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2020

    Are boycotts becoming bigger risks?

    The obvious answer to what is causing the increase in boycotts is the polarized political climate. However, the proliferation of social media platforms gives consumers a mechanism for sharing views and having them reinforced by like-minded people (or by those on the opposite side of the argument). As the article called out, all kinds of boycotts are at work at any given time so fragmentation is more prominent than organization. In most cases, retailers can afford to wait things out, knowing that a new news cycle will move things along.
  • Posted on: 07/23/2020

    Is there a path to profitable grocery delivery?

    One of the silos that need to be eliminated is the one between categories, particularly as more multi-category retailers see grocery as their ticket to more frequent visits (whether online or in-store). Yes, there are pure-play grocers out there, but even they usually carry some general merchandise. As it stands, retailers' grocery businesses tend to operate separately from higher-margin opportunities online. For example, why not suggest a crockpot when someone purchases beans (rather than just more beans)? And why not have the ability to load that crockpot in the car along with the beans when pick-up time comes? Retailers are seeing an uptick in e-commerce and surges in grocery and essentials. But how are those margins doing?
  • Posted on: 07/23/2020

    Best Buy connects strong sales to frontline worker performance

    Even if some of its tactics seemed risky, Best Buy has taken a proactive approach to the coronavirus crisis and that alone is a differentiator. Best Buy surely has benefitted from the work-at-home movement and the opportunity to sell everything from furniture to electronic accessories. I would think that the service end of the business is thriving as well as consumers adjust to not having IT fixers at the ready. Showing appreciation for employees and walking the talk on re-hiring are icing on the cake that should pay off on the other side of the pandemic.
  • Posted on: 07/16/2020

    How murky has COVID-19 made retail data?

    If nothing else, the data sets that result from COVID-19 will be invaluable for potential future calamities. COVID-19 may seem like an anomaly as we're living it now, but it also serves as a cautionary case study for any future events.
  • Posted on: 07/16/2020

    The Queer Eye for the Walmart guy

    Walmart is not stepping out or out of touch with its customers. It's the peanut gallery that may be due for an update on Walmart's customer base and practices. Walmart has become much more progressive over the years and the company certainly isn't making over-the-top moves without looking at the data first. Of course the voices of outrage are loudest on social media, and no doubt there will be some backlash. That doesn't negate the brand partnership one bit. The Queer Eye gang is a collection of personalities and different guys resonate with different people. That's the beauty of the brand and it will translate into sales if quality and design are on point.
  • Posted on: 07/06/2020

    Walmart debuts virtual summer camp and drive-in movie programs

    Leave it to Walmart to find yet another way to turn its brick-and-mortar locations into customer-friendly convenience hubs (this time, for entertainment). That's quite a feat in the midst of COVID-19.

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