Kim DeCarlis

Chief Marketing Officer, PerimeterX

Kim DeCarlis is a seasoned go-to-market executive with a unique combination of product marketing, brand building and high-tech sales experience. Kim is currently the CMO at PerimeterX, a growing Series C company that provides modern web application security solutions that safeguard digital businesses in retail e-commerce from malicious activities.  Her experience spans roles at technology companies including Citrix and IBM, as well as at Information Resources, Inc., a provider of solutions to the retail and CPG industries.  She is a frequent speaker at industry events on cybersecurity, B2B marketing and C-level engagement, and has been recognized by the Silicon Valley Business Journal as one of the “Silicon Valley Women of Influence.” She is a graduate of Stanford University and serves on the Boards of Directors for Model N, the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose and Girls in Tech.

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  • Posted on: 03/04/2021

    Are CTOs finally getting the respect they deserve?

    The relative importance of a specific C-level position varies based on the company, its strategy and its relative maturity, as does the scope and definition of a specific role. (Does it strike anyone else as interesting that this is about CTO/CIO -- they are different roles in MANY companies.) So it is not wise to paint everyone with the same brush. For companies that have been behind the digital eight-ball, it is logical that the CTO/CIO role has risen in importance as the pandemic has accelerated the need for digital-first thinking. For companies undergoing brand transformation, the CMO role is likely the most important. If a strategic change is in the works, then it is likely the CSO. And it is important to note that the skills highlighted as critical -- agility, collaboration, ethics -- are not positionally specific. So the long and short of it is that I believe this is a temporary shift and in a year or two from now, the market will have made another position "most" important!
  • Posted on: 02/25/2021

    Marketers are going online more and in-person less to gather research data

    Digital research solutions simplify and accelerate the ability for retailers and brands to get answers to questions that help them better serve their consumers and grow their businesses. But they may also benefit from the social media effect: the willingness of people to be more brutally honest about their impressions from the relative anonymity of a keyboard rather than an in-person discussion. That said, it will be important to maintain a balanced approach to research moving forward, using in-person where the topic is more organic and fluid, requiring a conversation, supplemented with digital where the topic is more discrete.
  • Posted on: 01/28/2021

    A digital first approach is essential to retail success

    Digital is the way business is done today. It was becoming a primary channel for many retail businesses, and those who were lagging were compelled to catch up as a result of the pandemic. It's important though, that being digital first doesn't merely mean taking your existing analog processes and digitizing them. It means rethinking the interaction with the consumer along their discovery and purchase process -- from home page to checkout -- and optimizing it. Thinking about the interaction between online and in-person -- or omnichannel -- will also be key. Perhaps most importantly, digital first means understanding that risks are different -- the digital world can be quickly upset by automated attacks and malicious code that are not present in the analog world -- and planning for it ahead of time. To move quickly, it's going to be important for retailers to find and embrace different talent -- people that are familiar with agile processes and digital thinking. This may mean looking for talent in new venues, and even teaching new skills to senior team members who rose through the in-store ranks, so they can effectively lead in the new digital normal.
  • Posted on: 01/26/2021

    Will retail and brand CMOs play it safe in 2021?

    Conventional wisdom, and data, show that it is typically easier and less costly to sell more to existing customers than to acquire new ones. That said, most CMOs including myself typically have a mix of net new customer acquisition and customer cross- and up-sell in their marketing plans. I suspect 2021 will be no different -- it's a "both-and" scenario rather than "either-or." What might be different, however, are the methods used. Retailers and brands are increasingly turning to digital channels, including social platforms and influencer selling, as part of their marketing mix. They are also adopting omnichannel approaches such as buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS), often with special accommodations for loyal customers including preferred hours and personalized services. The winners will be those that do it well, while keeping consumers and their data safe. This is also a time that calls for innovation and presents a great opportunity to stand out from the crowd. When other brands are receding to tried-and-true tactics and perhaps lowering their spend, it's a perfect time for perhaps a lesser-known brand to step up with a new, different and bold tactic that gets attention. That's a change for the better I expect to see this year. The question is, who will grab the reins and do something different and notable?
  • Posted on: 01/20/2021

    Girl Scout cookie selling goes omnichannel

    The Girl Scouts should be commended for continuing their fundraising mission -- and delivering Thin Mints to the masses -- while rethinking their approach due to the pandemic. Moving to online models, buy online pickup in store (BOPIS) and delivery with services like Grubhub shows a very forward-thinking attitude and willingness to change -- important items for success in any field. Going online, or perhaps more accurately, multi-channel, help build critical skills for Girl Scout members including agile thinking and thriving in a digital environment. These skills will be increasingly important going forward and in fact, today's Girl Scouts have grown up with smart phones, websites and virtual meetings, so the transformation makes sense, and might be considered overdue. Where I live in Silicon Valley, many Girl Scouts have already been using digital channels to sell, so it's great to see this energy and thinking be adopted nationwide.
  • Posted on: 01/14/2021

    Which emerging tech will transform marketing this year?

    Marketers are constantly looking for insight in the buying habits of the people they strive to serve. Any technology that helps us in this regard will be widely impactful. Real time marketing has tremendous potential, as long as it is not used in a way that feels eerie or "big brothery" to the consumer. And it's no surprise that Analytics and AI are high on the list -- in some ways they are two sides of the same coin. For the best business outcome, it will be important for analytics teams to go under the covers of AI so that they are able to understand and explain "why" outcomes are changing. This will empower marketers to not just report the data, but to use it to optimize their strategies.
  • Posted on: 01/05/2021

    Do retailers need to jump on the e-gift card bandwagon?

    Online purchases of gift cards more than doubled in the first two quarters of 2020 versus the previous period. Driven by the pandemic, smaller and boutique retail brands are increasingly looking to online gift cards as a way to encourage shoppers to buy gifts for friends and loved ones without shopping for or sending physical items. This is potentially great for retailers and for shoppers, but it brings with it the risk of increased digital fraud. Hackers love to steal online gift cards and gift card balances because gift card security is less comprehensive than the deeper scrutiny facing credit card transactions. Gift card account owners are less likely to notice changes to their gift card balances. In addition, security measures on unactivated gift cards are not well defined. In fact, during the recent Cyber 5 period, 25% of all e-gift card requests were malicious bot attacks. This growth in attacks on e-gift cards is not surprising, given the rapid growth of online e-gift card purchases and the ease with which simple pin codes normally used by gift cards can be deciphered. As retailers increasingly leverage this revenue opportunity, it is critical that they implement advanced solutions to identify anomalous behaviors and malicious bot attacks. Otherwise, their plans and good intentions could become a source for customer complaints and negative brand impact.
  • Posted on: 12/29/2020

    Are retailers set up to scale the value of AI investments?

    In many businesses, AI is still a solution looking for a problem, so its potential to drive improved business outcomes is not well understood. Analytics teams need a C-suite sponsor behind a strategic initiative that puts AI's potential to work in a visible way. They will also need to take the black box off of AI to help explain the "why" behind the outcomes it drives in a way that can be broadly understood and ultimately increase its leverage. Only then will AI be recognized for the impact it is having and be fully embraced as a meaningful business tool.
  • Posted on: 12/28/2020

    Should retail CEOs be on social media?

    The CEO should be the number one ambassador for the brand and, today, that means engaging across channels including social media. Three considerations will help you be successful in social outreach. First, get a social media mentor - usually a digital native that really understands the channel - and listen to their coaching and advice. Second, spend some time observing the interactions of your brand - and competitor brands - to get an idea for the topics and tone of interaction, including when to engage and when to stand down. Third, know your audience and engage with them on the right channels - perhaps keeping more formal business topics to one channel and more casual interactions on others. Over time, social media will become second nature and you'll find that the front line connection with your audience can be a true difference maker.
  • Posted on: 12/21/2020

    How is Nike excelling at driving loyalty with digital?

    A handful of years ago, I read an article in a business magazine that basically said "face it Nike, you're a software company now." At that time, there was an app that connected to chips in specific shoes to track mileage and remind a person to stay motivated to reach their fitness goals, and shortly thereafter the ability for a consumer to customize their shoes on the brand's website. This was the beginning of leveraging technology and of digital engagement with customers that the brand has learned from and continues to build upon today. They -- and other brands across segments ranging from automotive to beauty products -- have realized the engagement with and personalization for the consumer is critical to success. This is particularly true for highly undifferentiated products where substitutes are easily available, often at a better price point. Other retailers and brands should take note of Nike's success and how they handle engagement across digital and in-person channels. As a top consumer brand, they have set the expectation for others to follow. This is a case where being "second mover" could work to other brands' advantage.
  • Posted on: 12/14/2020

    The scalpers who stole Christmas

    Despite the growing sophistication of bots, many retailers still rely on traditional signature-based recognition methods that utilize a static database of known bad bots. This is ineffective because modern bots are quick to morph. Bot management solutions that monitor the basic environmental information of website users — IP addresses and service provider information — and the volume of traffic coming from these sources can be effective in detecting scalper bots and differentiating their behavior versus that from humans. Solutions that employ machine-learning models and predictive analytics to detect and block increasingly sophisticated scalper bot attacks are more effective — especially those that go beyond known signatures to identify as yet unknown bots. Scalper bots hurt retailer brands because they impact the experience of the consumer, making it nearly impossible to buy limited edition products. Consumers are forced to pay highly inflated prices on secondary sites which are often run by sketchy third parties. This experience negatively impacts brand reputation and long term brand affinity, so it is imperative for retailers to take action to preserve their reputation and their loyal fans.
  • Posted on: 12/08/2020

    Will the pandemic finally bring marketing and IT teams together?

    The pandemic has driven the urgency of digital transformation in businesses of all sizes and sectors. In retail, where shoppers used to visit a physical store, they now visit the digital headquarters of their favorite brand, also known as their website or web app. This change has called into sharp focus the need for CMOs and CIOs to collaborate even more closely -- as the stewards of the brand and customer experience, and the stewards of the technology. Well-functioning teams have worked this way for a while, so the platform of respect and alignment has served them well during the pandemic as they've been able to respond quickly to the ever-changing environment. Friction between teams that have not worked together well in the past has been aggravated, making it harder to find common ground. And the WFH reality for most people in these roles makes it difficult to build relationships, since interactions are mostly virtual, rather than face to face. In order to help their company, it is more important than ever for CMOs and CIOs to focus on achieving business outcomes and to ensure each party knows their accountability. Having business outcomes as the north star will be key to building collaboration and avoiding unnecessary friction.
  • Posted on: 12/03/2020

    Have women permanently broken through retail’s glass ceiling?

    Since women drive 70% to 80% of all consumer purchasing decisions, it is critical that the retail executive ranks are representative of their audience. This recognition could be a factor contributing to promotions, but with only 12% of the retail CEO positions being held by women, the journey is far from over. And it is important to recognize that these promotions have been well-earned due to hard work, great leadership skills and deep business expertise, not just gender. Until the day comes when we no longer ask the question "have women permanently broken through any glass ceiling?" and we stop using terms like "female CxO," the answer is "no, we are not done." Continuing to develop rich talent pipelines and providing mentorship to under-represented groups is required to get there.
  • Posted on: 11/30/2020

    Was Black Friday a bust?

    It's no surprise that 1 in every 4 dollars is being spent online this year, up from 1 in 5 last year. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the data we have from some of the largest and most respected brands in retail shows that many have seen spikes in single-day traffic that are larger than what they saw during Cyber Monday in 2019, in some days more than 300% of that peak, with the spike persisting over long periods of time. Extended promotional periods, online shopping and Buy Online Pickup In-Store (BOPIS) -- which has boomed due to the pandemic, with shoppers prioritizing getting in and out of physical stores as quickly as possible -- have changed the landscape, and we will see these shifts become permanent. The concepts of Black Friday and Cyber Monday have changed forever, with consumers adapting their habits and preferred buying channels. This is truly a new normal, so integrated omnichannel experiences will be the name of the game and critical for success going forward.
  • Posted on: 11/11/2020

    Will self-driving, electric vehicles power Walmart’s contactless delivery future?

    Self-driving delivery services have the potential to leapfrog forward in light of our ongoing pandemic. This gives people - especially in vulnerable segments - an easy alternative to get the products they need without potential exposure. For these services to become widespread, they must be proven to be safe and reliable, and they must meet or exceed regulatory requirements for self-driving vehicles which vary by location - not an easy task. Additional hurdles include security. This includes making sure that the vehicles cannot be hacked, and keeping the apps that people use to buy products, and schedule their delivery, safe from harm. Earlier in the pandemic, we saw browser extensions introduced that helped users get highly coveted delivery slots for groceries. These extensions introduced risk since they can drag malware or malicious code along with them - the kind that can harvest consumers' user names, passwords and credit card numbers. Retailers must ensure that they both jump over self-driving regulatory hurdles and build their apps and websites to protect against malicious add-ons. Both are possible -- it just takes time and resources.

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