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: 01/22/2020

    Has BOPIS changed holiday selling?

    I wouldn't call it sizeable. Amazon promised same-day in certain markets so I think what you can say is that, for the week before Christmas, the playing field was level for the first time in a long time -- for certain players. For those in the malls, not so much.
  • Posted on: 01/21/2020

    Does convenience trump price for today’s consumer?

    Warren Buffet says, "price is what you pay, value is what you get," and that's what we're hearing from consumers: value (not price) is #1. Not far behind though in recent studies is convenience, and, obviously, they CAN and are connected by the top e-com players. To me, both need an explanation though as, thanks to companies like McDonald's, Americans tend to confuse value with price, but they are much different. The above statement is a great way to help explain that to consumers to get an accurate read on the difference.
  • Posted on: 01/20/2020

    What does it take to create a risk-taking, innovating retail culture?

    Easy one for me: eliminate the fear of failure, which goes right along with the fear of sounding stupid. Failure is a human condition. We just do it, so what? Also, keep in mind, there is a big difference between failure and incompetence. The hard one is making sure everyone knows what happens when really good things happen and, more importantly, when really bad thing happen. Let everyone feel the joy of winning as well as the pain of loss. One of the best team building exercises we ever did was tell the team, "if we don't get this work, we're going to have to let __ of you go." Man, did we work together to win that one. But keep in mind, as will the first example; there is a difference between fear and truth. Be honest, people feel that.
  • Posted on: 01/17/2020

    Are Gap Inc. and Old Navy better off together?

    This is for Gap's namesake brand, no doubt. Gap stock by itself would be devalued to junk in about five minutes if they would've split. If they're ever going to save the mothership, keeping some value would be key to re-investing -- after they close another 500 stores of course.
  • Posted on: 01/10/2020

    Should Ahold-Delhaize, Albertsons, Kroger or Walmart buy Grubhub?

    Seems to me that, given history, Walmart will just create their own Grubhub-like service and dominate with it.
  • Posted on: 01/10/2020

    Will endless aisles and better supply chain management negate Amazon’s edge?

    It's all about listening to the customer. Period. Which is improving but if, as an example, retailers would've listened and executed a few years ago, BOPIS would be an ancient, profitable practice. Instead, by suffering through vertical organizations that don't allow swift execution, Amazon has taken an almost insurmountable lead in terms of supply chain innovation and become a vertical organization that will be very hard to top across the board. It's about what the customer wants vs. how you operate now more than ever before, and that's why Amazon will easily be the #1 retailer by decade's end.
  • Posted on: 01/09/2020

    Will coffee drinkers miss single-use cups?

    Love this idea. Recently found out at Whole Foods that if I bring in my ancient Yeti cup, I get it filled (it's big) for $2 bucks. By today's coffee store standards, that's like half price. I just hadn't thought to bring that thing in there. But now I'll do it every time. I love the idea of "training the customer" for a cause they're into AND giving them some benefits as well for encouragement. Win win. Go Blue Bottle!
  • Posted on: 01/08/2020

    Can casinos save the mall?

    We have a mall here in Columbus, OH that turned into a casino, which I pass often and I just have to say, I'm not sure you'd want frequent casino visitors rambling through your store every day. Looks to me like two totally different elements: shopper vs. gambler (other than in Vegas where everyone is both), at least on a local level. Bad idea IMO.
  • Posted on: 01/07/2020

    Do alcohol and shopping mix?

    All I know is I can't even get in a Whole Foods when they're having one of their "5 at 5" wine evenings. It's like a giant party. I've always thought, though, as with anything in retail, you'd have to be prepared for the old Murphy's Law syndrome and, in this case, that'd be pretty daunting! A drunken, belligerent customer calls for a whole different kind of employee, that's for sure! Bouncers at the door? Not so good.
  • Posted on: 01/06/2020

    Did Domino’s gouge Time Square revelers?

    It's called, "what the market will bear," and if you're drunk, freezing and standing around, 30 bucks is probably a gripe for about 5 minutes. The airlines, by the way, are masters at this technique.
  • Posted on: 01/03/2020

    Which retailer will rule in 2020?

    Target's due, at least from this list. But IMO, some of the new "department stores" are rocking it too, like Showfields, Neighborhood Goods, 4-star, b8ta and new centers like Coal Drop Yards (U.K.) -- those are retail-changing ideas that deserve much more attention, especially from the dinosaurs. The moniker of "Retailer of the Year" should not just go to the behemoths who drop a half trillion every year, but more so to the ideas that they eventually copy at scale, especially in the next 10 years.
  • Posted on: 01/02/2020

    California’s new privacy laws may trigger a wave

    I've been reading quite a bit lately about consumers being able to charge for the use of their data - or not. A "new economy", if you will. An interesting idea that would spread the wealth vs. funneling it all to a few people. In regards to retail, I'm not sure brands have even fully realized how to use all the data they're pulling now (let alone pay for it), so limiting its use, IMO, will have minimal effect. What's way more concerning is what to do with their physical assets (i.e.; stores) now that their focus, as well as the consumers, is online.
  • Posted on: 12/23/2019

    Is BOPIS over its growing pains?

    It's about time. We showed a very large retailer our BOPIS study six years ago and were told, "yeah, we know." But it wasn't until this last year that they started to execute it en force. That kind of delay is what drove Amazon's revenues up $100 billion in the last three years. Let's hope the next BOPIS/customer convenience element draws a faster effort to execution in the future and that the 100 pound lesson has been learned.
  • Posted on: 12/20/2019

    Shoplifting gets wild and goes viral

    The first move any retailer makes when business is soft is to cut sales floor coverage/payroll. It's an immediate reduction of expense and can show its benefit right away -- on the books, that is. So you can only imagine how sparse the coverage is now in challenged retailers like Sears and many more. Given that, the reason shrink in stores is increasing is because it's just plain easier (as witnessed in the video). Who's there to stop it? Theft has always been a major issue at physical retail, which, IMO, should further speed the move to dominant online shopping, where the shrink from something like porch pirates is on the customer, not the retailer.
  • Posted on: 12/19/2019

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Target vs. Walmart

    Both great, but to me the Walmart ad takes a lot of cakes, given what's happened in some of their stores (El Paso). Their message of unity certainly resonates now and especially this time of year, good for them. Having said that, you have to give it to both Target and Apple for their music selection (or ability to pay high ticket to ASCAP). The Donna Summers (!) ear worm is also about at good as it gets, and the message is terrific, just a little lighter than Wally.

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