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: 10/20/2020

    Albertsons offers a new refrigerated take on store pickup

    We know from several studies that customers prefer to have curbside/BOPIS goods put right in their trunks (like H-E-B or Walmart does) so I think this idea is OK but not a home run. It will be good for quick pickup because of size restrictions on lockers and other "plus" items like meals-to-go but, for main grocery loads -- not effective. But hey, Albies, keep plugging. Good to see an effort at getting BOPIS right and catching up after years of consumers being ahead of the game.
  • Posted on: 10/19/2020

    Should local book stores be taking on Amazon?

    We found out how to compete with behemoths in the '90s by having our own record store, and the phrase that Sam Walton coined for an effort like this rings true: "It's not that hard to compete with us, just do what we don't do." Which is exactly the case here: hold special events with artists, have unique merchandise and at the very least, an interesting, comfortable environment. But for starters, list what AMZN CAN'T do, and go from there (ahem, #1: humans?).
  • Posted on: 10/13/2020

    Has Walmart come up with an answer to Best Buy’s Geek Squad?

    Three things I love about the Walmart that we've been experiencing these past 10 years: 1.) they're not afraid to test anything (like Geek Squad-ish services); 2.) they SCALE something if they know the customer likes it, regardless of the test (see 4,000 stores with BOPIS pre-COVID-19) and finally; 3.) they are still not afraid to be a fast second -- so what if Best Buy does it? So what if Amazon has Prime Day? Those are good ideas and they didn't let them slide which shows ego-less, fast fail management at its best. Dear "Spark," after years of low-price brand woes, you have stepped up more than any other retailer, signed: Big Fan.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2020

    What’s behind the Amazon/SpartanNash deal?

    Well, if AMZN has anything to do with it, these "stores" will soon become fulfillment warehouses. Check Whole Foods for a best example of how that's going to go down. Now, is that a minus for these guys? Probably not, considering their environments, but for Whole Foods, it's a huge miss to the customer. You can look for more of these types of acquisitions as AMZN expands into grocery.
  • Posted on: 10/09/2020

    NYC startup promises 15-minute grocery delivery

    I wouldn't consider this a competitive advantage if my favorite, trusted grocer can do it within even an hour. Fifteen minutes? For the poor planners of the world? I don't know -- once you get it down to an hour, I don't think it makes any difference under that.
  • Posted on: 10/09/2020

    Is Petco really a health and wellness retailer?

    We just have to refer to the trending hashtag #dogsarenotpeople. We have a hard enough time taking care of ourselves apparently, so it feels pretty out of touch/gimmicky to me. But you know, I'm the RetailWire cynic -- I have to feel that way!
  • Posted on: 10/07/2020

    Will a new round of panic buying empty grocery store shelves?

    Speaking from personal experience, it couldn't hurt. Traditional grocers are still constantly out of products and sporting that good old empty shelf look for months now. The leader on the "out of stock constantly" list is Whole Foods, with aisle after aisle half full month after month. There must be some kind of Amazon algorithm that doesn't exactly fit the grocery model. But yeah, second wave or not, I don't think they've caught up yet so -- if they're actually capable of stocking up -- they definitely should!
  • Posted on: 10/06/2020

    Will Levi’s Secondhand store give the brand a sustainable advantage?

    I've said a few times on RetailWire that the used business is a lot harder than retailers think but if anyone can pull it off, it's Levi's. For the simple reasons that a.) it's a uniform product and b.) everyone has it! The idea of a single brand with a limited but very popular (classic) selection plays really well for used. So I think they'll do well, but I don't think it will move the big corporate needle. It'll be a great brand boost and in a limited way, do very well, but I wouldn't expect hundreds of used Levi's stores any time soon.
  • Posted on: 10/02/2020

    Will others follow Mall of America and provide free space for struggling moms and pops?

    Interesting idea that solves problems for both sides. The question is, will anyone shop/buy at these places? There has to be a secondary screening, as in, does the business look like it'll be a success? Otherwise you're creating a whole new set of issues. Still, I like the thinking.
  • Posted on: 10/01/2020

    Walmart reimagines its supercenters

    Dwell time has been and will always be key to increased basket size. It's just logical. And for what it's worth, the new Walmart design is great. Simple, easy to navigate and definitely brand right. Nice work, now for the hard part: rollout.
  • Posted on: 09/29/2020

    Are Amazon Prime delivery shoppers disrupting Whole Foods’ stores?

    This is so timely as I just came from my local Whole Foods! And I'm not pleased. This has been building for a while now as Amazon literally took the entire front of the store formerly used for casual dining and made a warehouse out of it. I can go on and on here but basically, Prime Delivery has taken priority over the in-store customer experience and it REALLY shows. Let me describe my experience today (which is duplicate to many others recently): First, I arrived at 7:58 a.m. and they wouldn't let me in (they open at 8 a.m.), which didn't used to happen, BUT, the store is jammed with pickers, I'd say at least 50, which made the store look like it used to -- jammed with customers, but the pickers are NOT customers, they're in a tremendous hurry and could care less about distancing or common courtesy. Then, another common feature of late: the store was out of strawberries (for the fourth day in a row), out of pan spray, out of peanut butter, there were empty shelves everywhere, they no longer sell stamps, they closed breakfast restaurant (it is used now to test employees/pickers) and there is no service in many spots where there once was. This may all sound like spoiled griping and I admit, it is EXACTLY that, because Whole Foods spoiled me! Whole Foods was unique from other grocery stores because their experience was excellent. Now it's a warehouse that is begging you to go home and order online, which, BTW, I can do anywhere. And since they have destroyed one of the best things left about physical shopping, that is exactly what I will do.
  • Posted on: 09/25/2020

    Will curbside pickup be Costco’s Achilles heel?

    In study after study that we've done over the last six years, thousands of surveyed consumers have ranked BOPIS (buy on line pick up in or at store) as the most important digital-retail integration tool out there. Given that, and given the current circumstances, it's bad business to NOT do it. Especially when Walmart has a great set up in over 4,000 stores and Target is not far behind. C'mon, Costco, figure it out.
  • Posted on: 09/24/2020

    Will homes of the future include ‘Amazon Rooms’?

    Ha! I wish i had one! My foyer is the de facto version of that anyway, what a mess!
  • Posted on: 09/23/2020

    Will lockers help Lowe’s pick up more sales?

    Lockers have worked for years for Amazon, UPS and Home Depot as well. If you know exactly what you want and you'd like to skip the entire checkout process or store navigation, it's perfect. But if you have questions or want to shop, it's obviously not for you. It also says to the customer, "we get it, you're in a hurry, here you go," which goes a long way on the brand side.
  • Posted on: 09/22/2020

    Will Walmart’s new private clothing line have ‘staying power’?

    After literally decades of cultivating a customer base around low prices and rural and outer-suburban consumers, this will be a tough sell for Walmart. I'm not saying they can't achieve success, especially given their half-trillion dollar revenue base, but it will not be an overnight mega-boom. They've never lacked the ability to attract talent, so that's not the issue. The rub for them is brand. Target built a brand on apparel, flashy ads and a completely different consumer than Walmart, so it's always been easier for them to succeed in this world. In order for fashion to thrive on a mass scale, Walmart's going to have to put on their long term thinking hats, which would include a pretty fair tweaking of the force behind their brand as well.

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