Lee Peterson

EVP Thought Leadership, Marketing, WD Partners

After over 30 years as a merchant at Limited Brands, a retailer and a retail consultant, Lee brings an innovative approach to strategic assessment and brand development across diverse industries. He is particularly in tune with cultural trends, consumer demographics, and buying behavior. This experience gives Lee a well-rounded and informed approach to brand development and designing customer-focused retail and restaurant experiences. Lee wholeheartedly believes that stores must perform for the retailers, as well as consumers.

At WD Partners, he leads an experienced group of creative retail designers and strategists working on brand and prototype development for such clients as Wal-Mart, The North Face, Starbucks, Gatorade, Red Bull, Best Buy, New Balance, Safeway, Home Depot, Culver’s, Bob Evans, Whole Foods Market, eMart, Co-op Mart, Mimi’s Cafe and LensCrafters. Lee also leads WD’s marketing team which produces their web site, white papers and all marketing communications.

His comments have appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Forbes, Fast Company, and on American Public Media’s Marketplace, as well as in industry magazines such as VM+SD, Brandweek, Chain Leader, QSR, Restaurants & Institutions, Nation’s Restaurant News, and Chain Store Age. Lee is also a frequent speaker on retail issues and trends. He is currently serving on the editorial board of VM+SD, a retail design trade magazine.  He is also an avid cyclist, outdoor enthusiast and lover of Nantucket Island.

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Chicago born, globally educated, 30+ years as a retailer and retail consultant, hammerhead cyclist
  • Posted on: 07/20/2020

    Why does it take a crisis for retailers to get innovative?

    Retailers HAVE to embrace digital first. A classic example is how long it took to get BOPIS going, both on the development and retailer side. COVID-19 made it a must have but in the meantime, Walmart had 3000 stores with great, customer driven, BOPS-enabled units and did very well. The idea of staying a "fast second" or laggard with new customer driven initiatives is dead in the water. It's a hard lesson and many, many stores will close, affecting development and the overall economy, but hopefully that lesson is now learned and more digitally integrated units, like Starbucks, Walmart or even HEB will become the norm.
  • Posted on: 07/17/2020

    Struggling retailers lay off workers and pay millions in executive bonuses

    Well, no need to wonder why they're struggling. Associates are the life blood of a company, not the fodder that holds up top executives. According to Starbucks' Kevin Johnson, associates' and customers' health was their number one priority, duh, so they paid their workers even during the shutdown and supplied masks and necessary PPE when open -- I guess that's not so "duh," apparently. P.S.: Starbucks is NOT struggling.
  • Posted on: 07/15/2020

    Did Amazon just put its Go technology in a shopping cart?

    Seems like an overdue but welcome idea come to life. You have to be concerned about shrink, you'd think, although that's never seemed to be an Amazon concern. Great test IMO.
  • Posted on: 07/14/2020

    What will retail’s back-to-school season look like this year?

    BTS sales have been waning in recent years anyway as consumers can buy anything at any time and aren't so tied to the whims of merchants' marketing. I would expect that trend to continue, especially considering the accelerating factor of COVID-19 AND the fact that many schools will be online this fall. I'd give expectations for BTS a big "meh." Now the holiday season, that could be a different story, especially if there's a change in November that could affect everything. Should that change happen, I'd look for holiday to be a comeback story.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2020

    Will Boomers and Gen X keep shopping online post-pandemic?

    I'd say the chances of old shopping habits returning as before are nil. Zero. Will the Boomers and Generation X do SOME shopping as before? Sure. But given the fact that many of them are the most vulnerable AND the ease with which home delivery has advanced in almost every retail category, I don't see them going back to '90s numbers. Our recent study showed that overall, only 48 percent of folks were going to visit stores as their primary shopping experience compared to pre-COVID-19, and most of them were younger. That would be a tipping point for online sales if it plays out. Reminds me of drinking single malt scotch for the first time and thinking, 'what was that other crap i was drinking?' - and then never going back. The ship to home experience now is just SO much easier and SO much safer, it's a no-brainer once you've had to do it to never go back (unless you really felt like it every now and then, for old time's sake).
  • Posted on: 07/10/2020

    Retailers need way more fulfillment space to keep up with booming online sales

    Well they already have the space: their stores. Target delivers over 80 percent of their e-commerce from their stores -- I'd take a close look at that model as Cornell has claimed that they took 90 percent of the cost of e-commerce out by doing that. As a matter of fact, look for two things in the very near future: 1.) like Target, retailers will fulfill from stores as much as possible and 2.) some of those stores will be "dark" (not shoppable). The future got accelerated and "store as fulfillment center" just got moved up to high priority.
  • Posted on: 07/09/2020

    Will doctors prove a cure-all for Walgreens competitive ills?

    Ever hear of LensCrafters? Same deal. And working well for over three decades. The only difference is, we already perceive Walgreens as one thing, and that would be a quasi-convenience store with prescription refills and potato chips to boot. So to me, this is going to take some sticktoitiveness from the Walgreens board -- and that's not exactly their M.O. Given all that's happened in the last four months, it's possible that they have changed. So let's see if this good idea can tread water over the next couple of years because, if it does, I think they've got something here.
  • Posted on: 07/08/2020

    Will Walmart’s best shoppers ditch Amazon Prime for Walmart+?

    You have to ask: what took so long? Walmart is usually the best at being a fast second or even a bleeding-edge first, but not in this case. To answer the question, I'm sure there's some overlap but we're mostly talking about two different customers and, even if we weren't, why not have both? This should be a boon for Walmart, but slower to take hold than when Prime came on the scene.
  • Posted on: 07/07/2020

    Has the pandemic changed shopping behaviors forever?

    We just fielded a study that showed that only 47% of consumers will go back to stores as a primary way of shopping (vs e-com/home delivery/BOPIS). So yeah, the decrease in footfalls steadily sliding down just fell off a cliff. I know most of you don't like to hear this, but there's going to be WAY fewer physical locations out there in a very rapid stroke going forward: too many forces against the '90s style of shopping to even begin to think that the old adage of having more stores will increase your stock price. The consumer is saying, "smaller (total size), better (all around)." Look for the "better" element to drive growth and stock prices for the foreseeable future.
  • Posted on: 07/06/2020

    Walmart debuts virtual summer camp and drive-in movie programs

    I like it. At first, I thought, what a terrific test. Then seeing the 160 store count, I realized they must know something -- or they just have a lot of guts. I love ideas like this though, why not? Where are consumers going to get the snacks while they sit out there in a parking lot? And who knows what else. Hats off to the Walmart Store No. 8 group, great job.
  • Posted on: 07/02/2020

    Do Americans want retailers to keep their social distance after COVID-19 is gone?

    A study we did six years ago showed that U.S. consumers wanted curbside pick-up (BOPAS) in a big way then. Since COVID-19 has been an accelerator more than anything else, I don't see that slowing down at all -- quite the opposite. Between that and the obvious advantages of e-commerce and home delivery, the future is clear: WAY fewer physical locations (unless they're "dark"). Given all of the above and now the endless spiral of COVID-19, unless you're a discounter with extraordinary logistics, having more than 100 stores looks like bad business going forward.
  • Posted on: 07/01/2020

    Anti-mask shoppers find themselves publicly shamed

    I frankly don't get it, either one; the shaming or especially the refusal to wear a mask. The thing everyone has to realize is that it's about being courteous and potentially (because who knows?) saving some lives or protecting others from severe sickness. Maybe less shaming and more explaining that it has nothing to do with "freedom" but more about someone not killing someone's mother/grandmother. It feels like some education needs to happen more than anything. C'mon, America, let's be civil!
  • Posted on: 06/30/2020

    Lululemon moves into in-home fitness with $500M deal for Mirror

    I haven't tried one of those things, but for $500 million it must be pretty good! Sounds like fun, and who doesn't like a mirror when working out? As Carly Simon once said, "you're so vain!" I guess Lululemon figured that out too. Watch for competitors and the big guys like Dick's to jump on as "fast seconds."
  • Posted on: 06/29/2020

    Does Microsoft need stores?

    Those stores were a very weak knockoff of the Apple stores. It's good they closed them as they were a laughing stock to most consumers. They are much better off through third party or DTC, unquestionably. Retail's not that easy, right, Bill? Just ask Ron Johnson.
  • Posted on: 06/26/2020

    Will a smaller Macy’s be a better Macy’s?

    Much smaller, yes. There's still something about some of the flagships, like the 34th Street store, but out in the hinterlands -- not so much. Both Backstage and PL will help the chain float, but I'm thinking 25 stores is the OK point for the mother ship.

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