Laura Davis-Taylor

Chief Strategy Officer, InReality

Laura has been focused on creating meaningful retail experiences that bridge home, life and store for over 20 years. Her experience is multifaceted, ranging across brand planning, digital engagement, store design and, more recently, next generation retail experience design and analytics.

She believes passionately that good brands do not make promises — they deliver experiences in unique and compelling ways. Done right, it is this that builds irrational brand loyalty. With this philosophy, she has worked with brands such as AT&T, Toyota, Best Buy, Coke, L’Oréal/Lancôme, Lowe’s, Office Depot, Foot Locker, 7-Eleven, EJ Gallo and Unilever.

Laura is an active industry speaker and contributor on the subject of digital experience design for outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Time Magazine, the MMA and MediaPost. She’s an ongoing contributor for Digital Signage Magazine and Retail TouchPoints, an executive board member of the Digital Signage Federation and her book, “Lighting up the Aisle: Practices and Principles for In-store Digital Media”, is the only existing resource for how retail brands can harness technology to reinvent their in-store experience.

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  • Posted on: 01/14/2021

    Which emerging tech will transform marketing this year?

    Interesting survey results, as real-time marketing can’t happen without analytics and AI happening together! So, for those who feel AI is "overhyped" yet rate real-time marketing at the top of the list, one would wonder if they are thinking the question through. *I’m clearly an AI fan! Another observation is tied to budget constraints. Yes they are a top obstacle, but the open terrain is pooling marketing budget with operations and store services. Real-time marketing fueled by analytics and AI also supports their goals of optimizing processes for cost-savings and efficiencies. Finally, I agree with David that AI has not been given a proper chance yet, but I think part of that is on the shoulders of the solution providers. My top 2021 "aha" is that we’ve given retailers some really exciting tech tools but we’ve expected THEM to enable them and work through the complexities -- versus handing them technologies that are already enabled and simple to use — likely what’s behind that 55 percent ease of use stat. The promise of AI is that "it just works." Retailers are time and budget constrained and we need to make the adoption of these emerging marketing technologies more feasible. There are more ecosystem partnerships coming together to make this possible and I think we’ll see some really exciting progress this year on this front.
  • Posted on: 01/11/2021

    Retailers give customers refunds and tell them to keep items

    I've only had this happen once, and it was for apparel clearly sent from Asia. It was weird for me, but I figured they didn't want the shipping expenses. Problem was that I still had to do something with an item that didn't fit -- and I would have preferred to have the right item. I'm environmentally conscious, so I got stuck on what's worse--a wasted product or the impact of shipping a product overseas, when I would not have even bought it had I known it was sourced internationally. The outcome? Never ordering from them again. Net-net, I get it, but it seems dysfunctional as a sweeping response--and I have to wonder when it becomes an "expected" cost of business, which certainly doesn't bode well on the books. Not an easy one to solve, but I do agree AI can help determine the if/thens to streamline it sensibly.
  • Posted on: 01/08/2021

    Are brands seeing a halo effect from ads on retailers’ online platforms?

    I agree with all the comments but would add that the clear and concise proof points that the marketing mix modeling established are critical regardless of media aperture or format. To me, this is they key point: "anecdotes and stories can only get internal partners to listen, you need evidence and data to secure buy-in for additional investment." In the words of a former P&G client, "we fund well what we measure well." I'm hoping this is the new norm and that we finally, finally get the retailers on the bus that by sharing data -- particularly in blind spots like store behavior -- we can all win.
  • Posted on: 01/08/2021

    Should your DNA data be used to sell products?

    This is totally egregious and it skates the edge of racial profiling. I mean we can't track assumed race with anonymized cameras to target product offers in stores but these firms can harvest a person's DNA to market to them? I certainly have a new privacy topic to beat the drum on now!
  • Posted on: 01/08/2021

    Shopify dumps Trump’s stores from its platform

    Well said Nikki. This is a big topic that is bound to play out this year.
  • Posted on: 11/17/2020

    Will Amazon’s new online pharmacy disrupt the U.S. drugstore business?

    Amen, sister. What's behind the curtain matters. They give away margin and make it easy to get data, putting others out of business. It's too big already -- and I do hope some oversight comes in at some point.
  • Posted on: 11/17/2020

    Will Amazon’s new online pharmacy disrupt the U.S. drugstore business?

    I don’t mean to be alarmist, but let’s see -- track my life purchases, track my groceries, track in-home IoT interactions, music, etc. Now track my prescriptions? I have been waiting for Amazon to get into the health insurance marketplace for years. My personal theory is that users will have to agree to a wearable that tracks their activities and health habits to get it for a bargain. This move is a leading indicator. My belief is that we we'll fall right in if we have no other viable options. Oh, what we as a society will do for cheap and easy. As Amazon continues to profit from our data and snuff out established companies, at what point will we embrace the real cost?
  • Posted on: 11/12/2020

    Target reopens looted store as a symbol of its pledge to do better for Black communities

    Agreed Dave. It takes character to publicly admit "we can do better," then do better. Kudos and thanks, Target, for inspiring us with action as well as words.
  • Posted on: 11/11/2020

    Dick’s and Etsy’s Christmas spots deal with COVID-19 realities in different ways

    It is near impossible to walk the political line when it comes to COVID-19 right now. I respect the heck out of these folks — just take on the holiday realities, but with your brand voice and stance shining through. Dick’s is great, as it’s clearly saying “we know this holiday is challenged, but we’re still going to make the magic happen under the tree—no matter what it takes.” Etsy, grounded in unique, bespoke gifts, leverages their brand even more powerfully. Maybe family is far away, but that really, really special gift that could be EVERYTHING to the person on the other end is possible.
  • Posted on: 10/28/2020

    How can shop local be better incentivized?

    We have a thriving local business community with retailers doing some really great stuff such as:
    • Offering a service where you call ahead and they deliver to your car with mobile checkout and full protection gear;
    • Offering a service where you call ahead and get delivery to your home;
    • Gift selection services with both delivery methods above;
    • Weekly Facebook live events;
    • Programmed outdoor themed events, some on their own and some with the entire community of businesses;
    • NextDoor messages and event posts;
    • Restaurants doing family meals or a special offering based on a theme;
    • Ongoing interaction using email and social to stay tight with the community -- informing us about a new product, asking for feedback, donations for a cause or needy family or simply saying thanks for helping to keep the business afloat.
    Creativity and staying connected is key, and there’s a lot of inspiration out there.
  • Posted on: 10/19/2020

    Has Shein reinvented teen e-tailing?

    I'm going to add to Dave's statement. I ordered from Shein out of curiosity—the products are marketed very well, the reviews are often very good and they certainly show up everywhere with hard-to-resist lures. The products arrived and the fit was terrible, the quality worse. I tried to return all but one item and they basically said, "no, just keep it—our gift." Which meant is was too expensive to send them back across the ocean. The one item I wanted to keep fell apart with the first wash. So, based on experience, Shein has a lot to model regarding "hooks" and their marketing and social strategy, but they don't deliver. That will surely go viral as well so, unless that changes, I don't see them becoming the next big success story.
  • Posted on: 10/19/2020

    Retailers need to prep for in-store COVID conflicts

    Fully agreed Paula. This should not be on the associate to have to deal with — they don’t make enough money and training is already challenging. All they can say is, “these are not my rules, but everyone has to abide by them or I have to ask for security to step in to speak with you.”
  • Posted on: 10/01/2020

    Walmart reimagines its supercenters

    So here's my question for everyone in relation to the notion that "browsing is dead” in stores—the goal of consumers and the retailers that serve them is to help them “get in and get out. Don’t stick around.” Is this because we want this to be the case, or because we have to operate this way now? Remember that we've spent recent years espousing that CX and brick and mortar experience is *everything*, and we had strong data to support it. COVID-19 came out of nowhere and forced the pivot away from this, but does it change the fact that great retail store experiences with a reason to linger and enjoy are still what we yearn for? I'm going to say no. If we could all wear a bubble that ensures 100 percent safety and go in and have amazing store experiences, I think most of us would still be game. I love that Walmart is augmenting the store shop with better technology-enabled support, but I think it's a little dramatic to say that from this point forward, ALL people want stores to be as quick and mission-oriented as possible — and therefore the role of all stores is to support this.
  • Posted on: 10/01/2020

    Will Amazon’s palm reader reveal the future of retail payment?

    I’m heavy into this kind of work, and I do think that biometrics are just starting to get their sea legs. This type of sensor avoids the perceived challenges with anonymous facial recognition but is also ADA friendly. The problem, however, is Amazon. They want in on retail systems/POS and they want in on tracking our biometrics. Their real currency is data, so why wouldn’t they? Sensors to make payment, health screening, gate/building access and personalization frictionless are really exciting — take a look at this if you want to see how global and active this emerging category is. We’re testing our software on a wrist sensor that’s very similar to this one featured, but it’s not under the Amazon umbrella. There are many other cool sensors like it, and they enable businesses to operate under their own data locks and dams — which in my mind is the ticket.
  • Posted on: 09/29/2020

    Did CDC’s announcement boost retail’s online sales prospects for Christmas?

    I'm on your bus Ryan, I think it remains to be seen. People are hard to predict and we're all desperate for some sense of normality. For those that are proactively playing it safe, we're getting used to taking responsibility for our own safety as we head out to stores. Which stores we go to, however, is the potential wild card. Will malls see less traffic, opting for more open and accessible stores? Will we see more local stores getting support? Or will folks flock to retailers with more trusted safety protocols? I do believe we will have less traffic, but culture code is a powerful lure--and nothing has more emotional pull than the holiday season. This is going to be interesting to watch.

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