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: 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.
  • Posted on: 07/06/2020

    Will Wegmans need a post-pandemic makeover?

    Wegmans' assortment pruning makes nothing but sense and may even be a bit tardy. Impulse shopping has quickly evolved from an indulgence to a stress-inducing experience during COVID-19. With so much conflicting and blurry information being circulated regarding virus transmission, experiential food retailing and sampling are shopping speed bumps. Wegmans would be wise to reconfigure its stores to focus on grab-and-go rather than banking on dwelling and browsing.
  • Posted on: 06/08/2020

    Gap to ‘mothball’ unsold inventory until next year

    The apparel business was bordering on trend-less before coronavirus hit and is in full-blown basics mode now that it has. Of all apparel retailers, Gap should have the least to lose pursuing a pack-and-hold strategy. Mothballing inventory isn't too risky, so long as it's not taken literally.
  • Posted on: 04/27/2020

    Are Target’s skyrocketing online sales retail’s new normal?

    Target's move into groceries and focus on rounding out its private-branded staples are paying off, even if the former is still buggy. Target is able to position itself as a worthy value option for essentials while wicking off a bit of higher-margin business in the process. Target also enjoys a rare advantage as a retailer that some customers just love to visit. Shoppers with a bit of cabin fever would be more likely to "risk" a Target visit than stores that have a narrower focus (and narrower aisles) and are more likely to throw in a few impulse items while there. Target isn't perfect but Brian Cornell managed to lay a positive, pre-pandemic foundation that is paying off now.
  • Posted on: 04/23/2020

    Should grocers close their doors to customers for safety’s sake?

    Converting to pick-up only is easier said than done. It requires the build-out of an e-commerce platform unless stores are willing to take phone orders. I suggest that some small-to-medium-sized operators try this as an augmentation strategy. A store in my area enjoys great loyalty within the community but has stuck to the shop-in-store model. The store manager makes a point of stocking all kinds of specialty items that are probably parked on the shelves as traffic dwindles to those seeking staples. Were they to offer phone orders with touchless pickup for these items, I would load up and cut out a mask-wearing jaunt to Whole Foods miles away. Surely I'm not alone. Another local medium-sized chain partners with Instacart for same-day delivery. There are ways to expand options and keep the tills ringing without going out on a limb.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2020

    How should stores reopen?

    In the absence of a comprehensive national plan (at least here in the U.S.), these decisions become yet another "for" or "against" issue. Retailers are creating individual, multi-faceted plans without the proper expertise or supplies, yet with accountability (and liability) for outcomes. In the meantime, a steady flow of protests, backlash, and lawsuits can be expected. I would call Starbucks' plan one of false empowerment and downright foolhardy at this juncture.
  • Posted on: 04/07/2020

    Will Chewy build on its current sales momentum once the COVID-19 threat has passed?

    Prior to the pandemic I had never placed an order with Chewy and have placed several since. Their delivery times may have scooted out a bit but I've found them to be predictable so I just place orders a bit further out from when I need them. The big positive is that Chewy has clearly articulated expectations throughout. That hasn't been the case with many other platforms.
  • Posted on: 04/07/2020

    Pre-bagged produce proves popular during pandemic

    Someone's hands packed those produce bags at some point so the demand for bagged produce doesn't make a lot of sense to me. It's unfortunate that this trend has come swinging back after plastic reduction initiatives gained traction. I have placed orders with several new companies just this past week due to a lack of availability and drawn-out delivery timelines. In the process, I've learned that there are plenty of smaller e-commerce companies that have excellent prices, availability and customer service (who knew?). A tinge of sarcasm there but also a small confession!
  • Posted on: 03/24/2020

    Retailers are going to curbside and delivery. Will they stay that way?

    Killing with convenience was a mandate before the coronavirus took hold and these days, choice and convenience are inextricably linked. Retailers that have recently ramped up curbside pickup should have done so pre-coronavirus. Once the pandemic (hopefully) blows over, they should absolutely keep it rolling in order to remain competitive.
  • Posted on: 03/24/2020

    What’s the right messaging amid the coronavirus outbreak?

    The message depends on the type of business however an upbeat (though not Pollyanna-ish), confident, safety-based vibe applies to all. People are looking for an escape from the barrage of coverage and want to know that an end is in sight or that at least some things are under control in the meantime. In fact, the conflicting messages from other sources create an opportunity for brands that communicate with clarity.
  • Posted on: 03/24/2020

    The coronavirus will accelerate retail’s ‘collapse of the middle’

    The collapse of the meh middle is one thing. It's underpinned by the collapse of category killing as we once knew it. Retailers that are reliant on softlines success (which describes much of the middle) are in double jeopardy as these categories are attacked by Amazon on one end and nimble niche players on the other and now, as spending on non-essentials grinds to a halt. Lack of category and business model diversity is accelerating the collapse.
  • Posted on: 03/10/2020

    Target wants to unlock its videogaming potential with a new concept store

    Target's concept store may be the only way for it to make a statement in the gaming space, yet it will be difficult to scale any positive impressions from one location. The coronavirus scare further limits the very scenarios that would make this concept successful (shared public experiences -- and surfaces). Headwinds are at gale force on this one, at least for now.
  • Posted on: 02/04/2020

    Can luxury retail attract a new generation of shoppers?

    The most significant changes that luxury retailers/brands need to make are first, to create an open, democratized brick-and-mortar experience. The days of locked entries, intimidating security guards and cold, sparse displays should be over. Luxury brands have a real opportunity to lead in the digital rethinking of physical retail. Switching channels, luxury brands must also break down any remaining resistance to digital. Luxury brands were late to the digital party and some have catching up to do. Digital is critical to driving awareness and accessibility to less-ubiquitous brands. An accessible and exciting flagship experience backed up by an easy-to-navigate digital brand showcase is what's needed.
  • Posted on: 01/23/2020

    Will store closures worsen in 2020?

    The significant factors leading to store closures are 1.) Amazon's digital dominance 2.) Lack of bricks and clicks integration (Walmart isn't closing massive number of stores because they've nailed this) and 3.) The fall of the mall. J.C. Penney and Sears are in peril as are any number of category killers that are still in business. It used to be that retailers feared Walmart entering a category (and to some degree that's still true). Now Amazon's profit-be-damned attacks are rendering category killing a daring business model. Store closures aren't necessarily a death knell. Some retailers can address various markets digitally without saturating them with stores. Either way, the store closure action isn't over.
  • Posted on: 01/22/2020

    Amazon, Kroger, Walgreens and Walmart earn perfect scores for LGBTQ policies

    As retailers increasingly find themselves competing with progressive, perk-heavy technology platforms for talent - inclusiveness isn't a nice-to-have, it's a must-do. Retailers must cast wider nets and ensure that all employees, however they identify, feel welcomed and safe. Corporations are taking the lead here because it's just good business.

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