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: 02/25/2020

    Amazon goes bigger with its cashier-less store concept

    I believe Amazon is going to sell the technology rather than open 1,000 grocery stores. I could be wrong, but operating low-margin physical spaces just doesn't seem to be anywhere in their past behavior in scale, so why start now? A grocery data feed is what I think is happening here, whether from them or others that buy in. And online grocery? That's a different story and, perhaps, the technology in a few ideally places physical locations would offer enough information to fuel inventory and logistics knowledge for said grocery clicks on a massive scale. No doubt grocery dominance is a target for Amazon, but these stores leading to that? I just don't see it. A data feed is what I see.
  • Posted on: 02/24/2020

    IKEA tests the value of time as a sales incentive

    Main thing here is the creativity. What a great thought. And listening to the customer. Consumers today have so many choices, why would they drive 50 miles to stock up their own stuff and get some meatballs? Much easier to shop locally and/or online. But with this? Well, guess we'll soon find out, but great try, love the thinking.
  • Posted on: 02/21/2020

    What does private equity ownership hold for Victoria’s Secret?

    Those guys put Staples $1 billion in debt and paid bonuses to execs while sacking 5,000 people and closing hundreds of stores. If I'm at Victoria's Secret, I'm holding my breath while I finish my resume.
  • Posted on: 02/19/2020

    Will store associates become the ultimate personalization tool at retail?

    Store associates are a differentiator and always have been. The advent of the Big Box/warehouse stores in the '80s and '90s put a hold on that notion, to the detriment of physical retail for decades now. So it's good to see this in print as hopefully we'll now see more "people people" in stores across the board ASAP. The new physical retailers, like Warby or Everlane or Casper all totally get it, as do the new Third Wave restaurants like North Star here in Columbus; all their people are over-the-top fantastic, which makes you want to return without asking. Hopefully the days of awful store associates are gone forever. Thanks, internet.
  • Posted on: 02/18/2020

    Walmart’s Christmas wasn’t humbug, but it was less merry than expected

    No one is defending the physical store turf better than Walmart, no one. Yet here we have the stark reality of the awesome power of what Amazon has created: a simple way to shop for anything without going anywhere -- fast. That triple whammy, I'm afraid, is going to be telling for everyone sooner or later. This should not slow Walmart down though. Their actions have been powerful and innovative. The only addition to their plan, it looks like, is going to have to be fewer stores. Join the club.
  • Posted on: 02/14/2020

    How will Jetblack lessons inform Walmart’s conversational commerce efforts?

    Biggest lesson: that Walmart doesn't have "upscale" customers? Or perhaps that their customer base just doesn't shop like that at all (they still predominantly have a physical shopper)? In either case, to me, ALL tests are valuable. Now Walmart knows; welp, that didn't work. So well played, Bentonville -- on to the next play.
  • Posted on: 02/14/2020

    Is it time for retailers to move beyond fulfillment and on to experience?

    To me, it's two terms. 1.) Brand platform: like in the RetailWire story on Vans earlier this week, it's not necessarily about overt selling and more about promoting the brand and physical touch/presence (with some showroom selling) and then, 2.) Fulfillment centers: you know, what most of the Walmarts are going to turn into (other than their minute clinics, pharmacies and eyewear areas). A place to pick something up and for the retailer to ship to your house from. The store of the future is not a store, it's one of the above.
  • Posted on: 02/13/2020

    Will technology even the last-mile playing field with Amazon?

    Too late! It's hard to imagine a technology or, for that matter, anything that would slow the momentum and drive that is possessed by the current ruler of retail: Amazon. If anything, it's efforts like these that can perhaps (operative term) allow a company to at least keep pace vs. the current runaway scenario. And P.S.: true or not, it's good marketing on their part to bill themselves as having "the secret technology to catch Amazon that only we possess" -- who wouldn't want that?
  • Posted on: 02/12/2020

    New Vans store designed as an homage to LA’s skate history

    This is the specialty store of the future, where selling brand is more important than selling merchandise. Their "House of Vans" I was at in Chicago was similar and, let's face it, the Nike and Samsung stores in Manhattan are close in terms of concept. In any case, I love it. The only thing they need now is better DTC online, a few pop-up and ghost delivery units and they'll get the "Retailer of Tomorrow" award.
  • Posted on: 02/10/2020

    H-E-B gives $100 bills to all its employees for top grocer ranking

    Having visited their stores recently and talked to execs, H-E-B is the best traditional grocer out there -- I'd say they're giving their Texas counterpart a run for the overall crown.
  • Posted on: 02/07/2020

    7-Eleven tries out an Amazon Go-like store

    Didn't NYC just pass legislation that stores have to take cash? You can expect more of that in urban settings. So given that, I'd say this is the future of many C-stores, but certainly not all. And personally, I see someone like 7-Eleven rolling out WAY more of these than Amazon. The 900-pound Seattle gorilla likes to dabble and learn, but a massive physical footprint? Not so much, they're smarter than that.
  • Posted on: 02/06/2020

    Should retailers brag about doing good?

    Really loud! Witness REI's #OptOutside Black Friday effort (and the closing of their stores for Black Friday) and what it did for their brand. There is no better Gen Z marketing than this IMO. So much zeitgeist-driven power!
  • Posted on: 02/05/2020

    Will Macy’s cut its way to improved margins and future growth?

    I only see a lot of corporate jargon that in the end means, "we're circling the wagons and preparing for the worst." They made so many mistakes this century, it's hard to imagine a comeback. At the end of the day, Macy's is just going to be a LOT smaller.
  • Posted on: 02/04/2020

    Is Forever 21 a wise investment for its new mall landlord owners?

    That business was run by one family -- there's no leadership chain/successors there. What -- is Simon going run a fashion business? I think they're obviously trying to avoid more vast empty spaces in their malls.
  • Posted on: 02/03/2020

    Is Amazon’s speed killing the competition?

    It's the amalgamation of it all for them: selection, speed, convenience of not going anywhere, price, simplicity (kind of) ... I mean, $90 billion last quarter -- they're going to pass Walmart soon.

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