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: 01/18/2021

    What is Marc Lore’s legacy at Walmart?

    Marc Lore's tenure shouldn’t just be judged by the perceived success of individual acquisitions and initiatives. Lore brought a digitally-focused entrepreneurial mindset to Walmart that encouraged risk-taking and non-traditional thinking. Even so, his departure comes at a time when Walmart is leaning more into partnerships than acquisitions, unifying stores with e-commerce rather than treating them as separate businesses and making big bets on monster categories like health and wellness. Clearly Walmart is pursuing new paths and Lore obviously is as well. Lore helped lay a foundation to enable Walmart's confident expansion and it's a perfect time for him to pursue his many other interests.
  • Posted on: 01/07/2021

    Retailers call on Trump to end the national chaos he created

    If anything positive came out of yesterday it's a renewed awareness of the power of "dark money" and renewed scrutiny of corporate political support. You can't say keep politics and business separate when corporations are funding politicians. The two are already linked. Before yesterday's events, the Lincoln Project publically announced that its next-stage push will be exposing corporate donations and incidences in which corporate support for causes like Black Lives Matter are at odds with financial support for various candidates and PACs. Of course, retailers are in the mix. Beyond Trump, exposure and accountability are coming.
  • Posted on: 01/07/2021

    Will meatless burgers moo-ve in on beef’s market share as prices fall?

    Yay for Impossible for achieving the, well, near impossible: getting its beef alternatives' prices closer to subsidized "originals." I appreciate Impossible's mission to make meat alternatives more widely available and affordable (rather than just trying to make a buck). The happy difficulty these days is that so many wonderful meat and dairy alternatives exist. Some "taste just like it" (or better), others bring taste and ingredient options that expand the palate. The days of convincing and cajoling people into trying these products are over. Availability and affordability matters most at this point. As a vegan, my main challenge has been to sort through the options and stay on top of new product launches. Several local stores including Walmart offer impressive options across all alternative categories yet plenty of "duds" are featured as well (products from particular brands that just aren't the best in the line-up). As product launches accelerate, retailers should stay on top of what's hot and which products are the best representations in particular categories rather than defaulting to supplier recommendations or guessing. When plant-curious shoppers try a new product and it's icky or not up to snuff, confirmation bias can set in and shut down further exploration. In the meantime, E-commerce players are sprouting up again to fill demand for new and exciting products (I just received a big box of rare delights from GTFO It's Vegan). Quality and affordability will continue to improve, if only because the competition has heated up considerably.
  • Posted on: 01/06/2021

    How did QR codes go from DOA to killer app?

    That is so cool, Scott. Great way to increase relevance with retailers (and shoppers)!
  • Posted on: 01/06/2021

    How did QR codes go from DOA to killer app?

    QR codes are particularly relevant during COVID-19 as shoppers seek more information on products and "how-to" content. The role that QR codes play in facilitating returns and clearing up app scanning/QR reading confusion have removed additional friction points and eased adoption. QR codes offer tremendous flexibility which should keep the momentum going even when COVID-19 winds down.
  • Posted on: 01/06/2021

    Chewy is barking up the right tree when it comes to customer loyalty

    Unfortunately, one of the top reasons I shop with Chewy is one is its biggest obstacles to growth: I love having big, heavy stuff (cases of canned food, big bags of dry food) for my fur babies delivered right to my door quickly. I also love having the ability to adjust my auto-ship dates. When it comes to toys, clothes, etc., I generally switch to Amazon or impulse grabs on my rare trips to an actual store. I'm sure I qualify for Chewy's least favorite customer group yet I have to believe others are similarly situated, and motivated.
  • Posted on: 12/07/2020

    Barnes & Noble counts on store managers running its business better

    Barnes & Noble's localization play seems both obvious and late. Many consumers have strong feelings about supporting local bookstores and strong resistance to corporate cram-downs influencing book assortments. Now to the late part - milling around and serendipitous experiences are at odds with the current COVID-19 shopping environment. To make this work, Barnes & Noble will need to instead address intentionality or at least ensure that those "finds" are located near the door or maybe even on the sidewalk. Upgrades to Barnes & Noble's website and leaning into BOPIS to allow some of that discovery to happen in advance also makes sense.
  • Posted on: 12/07/2020

    Can retailers avoid a late holiday delivery ‘apocalypse’?

    Transparency and over-communication are key at this point. It's one thing to disappoint a shopper while in the store or at online checkout, quite another for things to fall through after the sale. Retailers would also be wise to offer alternatives when capacity constraints hit. Offering incentives to pick up at a store (and noting a specific location) could save a sale. "Just in case" messaging that puts the burden on the shopper should be a last resort.
  • Posted on: 12/02/2020

    Will ending minimum purchases turn Walmart+ into a serious Amazon Prime rival?

    The beauty of Walmart+ and other bundling programs is that they can be tweaked in any number of ways as customer data is gathered. That Walmart is already adjusting this new offering attests to Walmart's agility and test-and-learn sensibilities. Removing the purchase minimum tears down a psychological barrier more than anything. Shoppers won't have any hurdles to clear when considering where to shop and once they are "in," will likely spend over the previous minimum. It's a big bet that should pay off in more business for Walmart, especially as it continues to refine and optimize its e-commerce platform.
  • Posted on: 12/02/2020

    Sephora to set up shops in 850 Kohl’s stores

    I've been saying for a while that brand ubiquity is the new exclusivity - brands have never been freer to roam. Yet Sephora's decision to dance with J.C. Penney's direct competitor has to hurt. This will further ding J.C. Penney's differentiation and offer a big bonus to Kohl's which, under Ms. Gass' leadership, has benefited from unlikely frenemy forays (a la Amazon). Sephora's move to Kohl's drives a very big nail into J.C. Penney's prospects and will further differentiate Kohl's in the scary middle of retail.
  • Posted on: 11/19/2020

    Walmart goes to the dogs (and cats, too)

    Walmart is smart to leverage partnerships to round out its pet portfolio. Doing so mirrors its expansion into services and healthcare for people. If anything, ignoring the pet opportunity would have created a gaping hole in Walmart’s growing suite of services. The only challenge is one of awareness and integration. As Walmart extends its tentacles into new businesses, getting the word out and articulating benefits and a clear value proposition is of the utmost importance. Easy navigation and optimized search within the environment will be critical to competing against known entities. It’s a tall order to present a massive portfolio of products, solutions, and services with easy navigation and clarity, yet if customers don’t know about these services, they might as well not exist.
  • Posted on: 11/18/2020

    Target and Walmart’s 3Q results are just – Wow!

    Convenience, safety, and speed. Walmart and Target are taking different approaches to achieve them, yet the results speak for themselves. Both retailers were set up to weather the COVID-19 storm better than most purely by accident (who actually saw it coming?). Once COVID-19 hit, the arsenal of convenience options that both retailers have amassed quickly morphed into safety enablers. Going into the holiday season, speed layers on as a third driver that will support all of the same initiatives, from BOPIS to home delivery. Both Target and Walmart have wildly departed from their insular pasts to embrace partnerships and acquisitions as a means of stoking innovation. Both retailers will be even better positioned after weathering the COVID-19 storm as the discretionary categories that power profitability begin to reignite.
  • Posted on: 11/10/2020

    Are grocers downplaying curbside pickup at their own expense?

    In a word, yes. Grocers are being far too cautious and controlling when it comes to convenience. They should know by now that attempting to curtail convenience and corral shoppers into options that are more profitable or easier to execute just won't cut it. Smart retailers have learned that taking a portfolio approach is the best insurance policy against shoppers jumping off their platforms and seeking alternatives.
  • Posted on: 11/10/2020

    Will Ulta shops turn Target into a beauty destination?

    Ulta's integration with Target's app and convenience options is the icing on the cake. Target may not be as ubiquitous as Walmart's multiple formats but Ulta is even less so. This partnership allows Ulta to get closer to its (similar) customers via Target's brick and mortar footprint. Ongoing upgrades to its digital platform along with its growing portfolio of convenience capabilities elevate Target's relevance as an RTR (retailer-to-retailer) partner and player. This is a great move, particularly at a time when the J.C. Penney/Sephora partnership has lost its punch.
  • Posted on: 10/13/2020

    Will FAO Schwarz make Target a bigger player in toys?

    The toy battle makes sense for Target as a traffic driver during the holidays. This is particularly true as COVID-19 reduces the number of trips shoppers want to make. A compelling toy offer might coax shoppers to stay a while and check a few more things off the list (or splurge on some of those tempting Target impulse items). This isn't a literal category play, it's a lure.

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