Laura Davis-Taylor

Co-Founder, HighStreet Collective
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.

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 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.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2018

    Nike launches digitally-led store

    As a a practitioner of this kind of work, I know how hard it is to get a huge group of internal stakeholders to agree to a set of "experiences" to envision, install, activate, measure and tweak. As long as they are watching, learning, evolving and continuing to evolve, I say KUDOS to this. Half the battle right now is starting somewhere and having a store that can be used as a learning lab. I hope to see the second chapter of this store's story in the next six months or so.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2018

    Ellison shaking things up at Lowe’s

    I worked with Lowe's for three years during the time that they were leading the category. The CMO at the time, Bob Gfeller, was -- and still is -- a shining example of leadership, vision and a fearless and focused commitment to CX and doing what's right for the customer. We had 33 departments involved and it was an honor and privilege to be part of such an amazing group of retail leaders. This was 10 years ago, and only two of this team are still there. Some great minds have been inside of their walls and I hope that as more come back in, they are the right people and they are empowered. They've lost a lot of years and, as Bob often said, there's a narrow window in which to get ahead.
  • Posted on: 07/12/2018

    Survey: Customer experience tech rivals personal attention from staff

    Small retailers that are thriving are not doing it because of technology ... it's because they are providing what so many big retailers are not -- great experiences driven by a caring staff and a genuine commitment towards hospitality. They care, and their shoppers know it.
  • Posted on: 06/25/2018

    Why are there so few women in c-level positions?

    Wow is this hard to weigh in on with any level of brevity. And it’s not black and white -- some companies are enlightened here and some (okay, many) are not. It’s crazy given the fact that so many household purchases are driven by women and science has proven how different our brains are from men. This topic is the reason the 3% Conference exists. This topic is the reason I own my company. This topic is why I get so mad when women DO get there and act poorly in the role. Regardless, like Cathy, I know the answers to the question. I’m curious to hear from the men reading this inquiry -- what are YOU seeing?
  • Posted on: 06/25/2018

    Dollar General pilots scan & go tech

    I agree with Mark and Max. If they've unearthed a key friction point such as long, frustrating checkout lines OR if they are simply experimenting, great. But if this is a me-too strategy, I would love to see the funding supporting something that would make more of an impact on overall store experience. Yes, expectations aren't super high for CX in a dollar store -- but our firm sees that changing in the very near future as low price, high experience becomes more prevalent.
  • Posted on: 06/08/2018

    Is AI the key to legacy brands’ revitalization?

    Funny to see this product as the feature, as they have definitely gotten my attention in the past months. As shared, "AI itself is simply a means, it’s not the end." They did all the right things around their AI test. The models became less Barbie-inspired; the copy became more human; the product name is more culturally relevant rather than cult-like; the price point became more justifiable. AI is a very, very strong tool to get the right product closer to the right people. But once the hook is in, the rest of the experience needs to pay off again the holistic CX plan -- which includes channel experience, voice/tone, brand feeling, product design, product story, price, transaction ease and all that jazz. No matter how, when and why it's used, AI needs to be a lever to aid in creating a more holistically human experience.
  • Posted on: 06/08/2018

    Retailers told to forget social media

    I'm following Nikki 100 percent on this one. There are SO many factors that make this blanket statement irrelevant to many. Certain categories -- like beauty and fashion -- are killing it via social media channels. Also, the shopper buying preferences are huge. I'm reading some of these comments about so much social media noise out there, but I've purchased three "delightful finds" that appeared in my Facebook feed just this week. I'm that kind of shopper. Our job today is to be where people are in the channels that they choose, in order to add value at every touch -- that's omnichannel. They will choose the channel; our job is to make sure that we're authentic, on-brand and worthy of attention. If you have any doubt about this, watch a pre-teen shop on their phone.
  • Posted on: 06/07/2018

    Retailers get real with high-touch service

    Yes, yes, YES! This article is incredibly inspiring, and it also validates something we have been preaching over and over again -- which is bringing authentic care back to the customer service experience. We are all so darned weary of the automated processes and scripts we must endure to engage with brands. Why is it is now so hard to just call a number, get a human voice and have that human act like a human? Oh yes, because it saves money to make it a process versus a positive personal touch. I believe that social media is a necessary channel, and it must exist and be done well for those that wish to be there with you. However, preaching and teaching real people to act with emotional intelligence and conscious problem solving -- and giving them the tools and runway to do it -- is a huge, huge opportunity for customer loyalty and retention. It may not work for budget brands, but it's an ace in the hole for those whose customers expect it. It's not rocket science and Mr. Lane nailed it when he advised "start playing a song that cuts through."
  • Posted on: 05/17/2018

    Walmart drops Scan & Go tech – again

    My brother-in-law is a manager at a major home improvement store. He can’t interfere at all if he sees someone walking out the door with unpaid merchandise—only the loss prevention person on the floor can. And wow…what he witnesses regarding blatant theft. I just can’t imagine being able to trust the mass majority of customers at my Walmart to comply with this in a purely honest manner. I just can’t see it. If all items had an RFID chip imbedded that could be audited in for checkout compliance in a nanosecond, then sure. But that’s not feasible right now. HOWEVER, I do applaud them for experimenting. It’s what they should be doing—learning what works and what doesn’t and what to do next as the outcome.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2018

    Etsy succeeds with its Amazon-opposite approach

    In a world of soulless commodity, artisan, heart-fueled products created with care become the things that we covet and cherish. Etsy knows this, and I applaud them. They also have done brilliant things with resale, as those items also hold history and exclusivity. People buy stuff on Amazon ... they buy stories on Etsy. A shopper chooses one over the other purposefully, and I can't imagine that Amazon could ever overtake the authenticity and imagination that Etsy has captured. They are totally different buying occasions. And they are rooted in very different culture codes.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2018

    Consumers get the smart home experience at Amazon open houses

    Brilliant move -- don't use words to describe the potential, let them experience it for themselves! Sidebar observation, but I hope that we as a culture weigh the pros and cons carefully when entering into this kind of evolved home lifestyle. Ease and convenience is the drug -- but it comes with a potential price, some of which is yet to be seen. I'm not an alarmist, but working within the privacy concerns being discussed within the digital out-of-home sector, I just think that getting ahead of privacy and security issues is important. And overlooked. At least until something happens.
  • Posted on: 04/25/2018

    Are Americans ready for a c-store that sells only healthy foods?

    I agree with Max, I LOVE this! And it's about time. Site location to tightly match the tastes and preferences of the neighborhoods will of course be key -- and having some exclusive and "healthy" treats as well. I hope they have some locally-sourced items. The store design is very clean and nice, but it does look a bit sparse and could use a little more liveliness -- but two snaps for going there first! Now how about fast food following in their inspired footprints?!
  • Posted on: 04/18/2018

    Honoring women

    I have a real passion for this topic and, in fact, had been in the midst of writing a "crowd sourced" book on it before the #METOO movement made it less necessary. However, having spent my career in both agencies and retail, it’s stunning to me that women are so under-represented in leadership, influence and salaries within both camps. Like Paula, I see our presence declining. We make or influence the lion’s share of purchases (particularly in stores) and the neuroscience has irrefutably proven that we think differently than men. Common sense would prevail that it’s thereby imperative that the strategies to connect with them and influence their behavior be led by women. We’re making progress here, but not enough. I am near constantly having to represent the female POV with the store innovation work that I do, even when the target market is definitively female. Candidly, I believe a huge challenge is the male impulse to make the big calls not from a place of empathy, but from one of power and self-referencing. Of course, this is not every situation, but it’s common. So, here’s the flip side. While interviewing many, many women for the book I had in mind, a common theme emerged—which is that as frustrating as it can be to deal with male bias, there’s a lesser-discussed challenge within the female set on how they treat each other. Many of us have worked with women that seem intent on tearing other women down versus supporting each other and building our community up. A biased man in at the corporate table is challenging, but a vindictive female could be infinitely more damaging. This is important to the conversation. We must support each other as we climb the ladder and take our seats as well. Otherwise, how can we truly affect change?
  • Posted on: 03/26/2018

    Has Facebook become toxic for advertisers?

    History has always shown us that where there is money to be procured, big business will push boundaries to maximize it. Increasingly, there is no real privacy unless you unplug all devices and apps from your life. We are now in a world of value exchange -- we use Facebook to secure a "free" method to connect with friends and family. We use Waze as a "free" method to get there quicker. We use home delivery services as a "free" way to avoid the drive. We use smart home devices as a "free" way to get information quicker, protect our homes and manage them from afar. On it goes. However, nothing is free -- and data is the gold they gather in exchange for the promise. It's up to us to read the usage ts and cs and, as scandals like this emerge, decide what platforms and tools we engage with. Facebook will not suffer long, as they have become a cultural norm and, as one panelist pointed out, they bought out their competition.
  • Posted on: 12/13/2017

    RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Home Depot vs. Lowe’s

    I'm working deep in this category right now and I am neck deep in research and shopper insights. They are both struggling to attract the younger set. Lowe's still struggles to deliver against that female buyer -- often the gift purchasers. Omnichannel is an imperative. Emotions and CX are secret weapons. Where are these core planks represented? I worked at the agency that did the Lowe's commercial and they are top notch -- but they also have to serve their client, so there's no way to judge the work as just "on them." Both spots suffice ... but I agree with Tom. Neither drives preference -- and I wonder if either will drive trips. And in the end, that's what they are supposed to do.

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