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: 09/16/2021

    Online grocery shopping is pretty much all about convenience

    As we establish our "new normal" post-pandemic, needs and benefits change. Shoppers who were forced online for safety had their eyes opened to a new experience, so it's not surprising that convenience, not safety, is the long-term outcome of value that has resulted from the pandemic. For a grocer to excel moving forward, it's important to take advantage of omni-channel possibilities -- offering secure e-commerce experiences from home page to checkout and extending that to curbside pickup and BOPIS (buy online pickup in store) for grocery shopping. And I use the word "secure" very specifically. Consumers must know that their personal information is handled securely by the grocer, and that the potential for fraud is minimized throughout their transaction.
  • Posted on: 08/27/2021

    Do retailers need a chief data officer?

    Managing a retailer's technology stack and getting insights from its consumer data are two distinct needs requiring unique and different skill sets. While the technology may be a conduit for gathering and managing data, that's where the overlap starts and ends. For a CDO to be successful, the role must span departments -- from sales to marketing and finance to technology -- and be seen as one that empowers the digital-first thinking required for success across the brand. The role must have the budget, authority and resources needed to bring together departmental silos. And, it must empower these organizations by building data analytics skills across them that can help find meaningful insights and put them into action.
  • Posted on: 06/21/2021

    Amazon and its retailer rivals look to set Prime Day sales records

    As we saw during holiday periods throughout the last year, online traffic and revenue have reached new heights, with many retail e-commerce vendors seeing daily peaks throughout the year that surpassed previous Cyber 5 levels. It is likely that Prime Day will bring similar traffic spikes, so it is important that retailers prepare their infrastructure in advance -- both to handle legitimate traffic and to handle attacks. This is particularly relevant for smaller chains and independents: in the last year, more online merchants faced attacks as criminals expanded both into new verticals and attacked smaller businesses more frequently than before. Since a company’s website or web app has become the primary way for consumers to discover, shop and interact with a brand, it is critical that infrastructure and security are ready for whatever Prime Day may bring.
  • Posted on: 06/11/2021

    What distinguished e-commerce winners and losers during the pandemic?

    The retailers that fared best during the pandemic were those that were able to provide safe and effective e-commerce experiences from home page to checkout, and to extend their online experiences to curbside pickup and BOPIS. Online traffic surged above previous Cyber 5 rates and so did cybercrime: account takeovers comprised 85 percent of all login attempts in some months and gift card attacks were up from four to eight times during major U.S. holidays. Larger retailers had a head start because of more advanced e-commerce and supply chain infrastructure, though many had to accelerate their digital and omnichannel plans. Retailers that didn’t fare well should learn from those that did: safe omnichannel experiences and a focus on transparency and customer satisfaction will go a long way.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2021

    What are the greatest pain points for mobile checkout?

    Mobile checkout processes need to be simple and secure -- two factors which sometimes are at odds with each other. Digital and mobile teams want to minimize the clicks it takes to complete a purchase, while security teams want to make sure that the transaction is being performed by a real person, not a bot. Unfortunately attacks on checkout are among the most serious because they reach the stage of fraudulently attempting to purchase a product or service. As such, security teams often impose verification systems on transactions, requiring customers to identify pictures or type words that they see in a distorted graphic on the site. These systems can lead to frustration and high abandonment rates, particularly from certain demographics that are skeptical about online shopping to begin with or have trouble seeing the graphic. It is important that retailers keep security and ease in balance, perhaps using verifications that are simple for humans and hard for bots, and only requiring additional steps based on transaction size or change to the account -- such as delivery address or credit card -- to minimize disruption and maintain customer satisfaction and engagement.
  • Posted on: 03/17/2021

    Why is gaining meaningful insights from data still so hard?

    Creating a single view of customer data is the goal for organizations across business segments -- well beyond retail -- but this is easier said than done for three main reasons: silos, talent and skewed data. Unfortunately, customer data lives in many systems -- the CRM such as Salesforce, the loyalty system, the payment system and the website analytics tool. These systems are often owned by different groups which results in silos that are hard to work across and data that is difficult to correlate. Finding skilled data analytics talent is the next challenge. People, with the skills to correlate multiple data stacks and understand the right questions to ask to help a business get from data to insights, are hard to find. Skewed data -- particularly from websites and web applications -- is the final challenge. As e-commerce continues to be a primary channel for retailers, their website becomes a primary brand experience, with more traffic online than to most brick and mortar stores. But with human traffic comes automated bot traffic -- to scrape content pages, hoard inventory and try to take over accounts. Since many websites have over 50% of their traffic coming from automated bots, decisions about promotions, product popularity and campaign impact can lead to erroneous conclusions and over- or under-investment. So with these challenges, what's a retailer to do? First, empower a data czar to bring together the silos and give this role the budget, authority and resources needed. Second, invest in internal data analytics skill-building classes, and consider sponsoring programs with local colleges and universities to build a talent pipeline and feed internships and new hires. Finally, make sure that you have the right protection tools for your websites and web applications to ensure that you are making decisions based on data from people, not bots.
  • Posted on: 03/08/2021

    Does make sense as a separate business?

    Saks deciding to split their online and offline operations needs to be viewed from multiple perspectives. The primary driver is shareholder value and it is clear that the economics of the online business are different and much more positive than that of Saks' brick-and-mortar storefront. This has been particularly true in light of the pandemic where websites and web apps have become the primary way for consumers to discover, shop and interact with a brand. As a result online traffic and revenue have reached new heights, even as physical store revenue has slumped. So from a purely business perspective it makes sense. Looking at this from the eyes of the consumer, however, brings other thoughts to the fore. Consumers don't want to differentiate between an online brand and a physical store brand. There needs to be a handshake between the digital business and the physical store in order to keep things simple for the consumer -- for new interactions like buy online pickup in store (BOPIS) and for classic interactions like merchandise returns. Otherwise a retailer risks losing consumer dollars to a brand that does. I hope Saks keeps this top of mind. Ultimately, I see a blended or hybrid future -- with a seamless mix of online and physical interaction points. This is the omnichannel vision of many retailers and it will be interesting to see how this all plays out with Saks and others that may follow.
  • 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.

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