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: 06/15/2021

    Amazon scales its Just Walk Out tech for a full-size grocery store

    I'm on this bus too. Amazon has the revenue stores to float this kind of mammoth operational investment for years without much heartburn. Traditional retailers do not. It's another example of how big tech has hurt traditional retailers with their ability to invest in things at a negative ROI for years–and Wall Street not caring. Like many other things they've done, it's an example of "subduing the enemy without fighting." So what should the mainstream retailers do? Make the checkout a positive experience and over-index on great customer service. With humans. Humans that smile, reduce any stress from the process and make customers feel valued. It's not that difficult.
  • Posted on: 06/15/2021

    How will companies manage a staff of vaccinated and unvaccinated workers?

    We seem to be all pretty consistent here -- choosing the path to not vaccinate may mean no job. I watched the news hit this morning that the workers in a hospital in Texas sued over a vaccine requirement which, by the way, carried a $500 incentive when first offered. 178 out of their larger pool of employees were dismissed due to their refusal – and 117 sued. The federal judge dismissed it, with a key comment published that also addresses this post: "There are going to be many battles fought. Not just in this courtroom, but in courtrooms all across the state. There are battles that are going to be fought in the higher courts, the 5th Circuit, the Texas Supreme Court, even the United States Supreme Court. So this is just one battle in a larger war. It's the first round, if you will." It's going to be interesting to watch it pan out...
  • Posted on: 05/24/2021

    Do chatbots need to be more likable?

    I'm with the majority here, these things are just an annoying ploy to avoid putting a real caring human on the phone to help you deal with a friction point. They're right on par with the offshore support person that can't speak English and says your name over and over again as a scripted ploy to make you think they are competent and supportive. Customers are so over this stuff and just want brands to show that they care as much as they say that they do -- not throw up a million barriers to get the help that you need in an effort to get you to hang up and go away. I don't mean to be negative here, it's just not that hard to give people the help that they need if you really care.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2021

    Vans can’t skate by on its pre-pandemic reputation

    Sitting here asking my 13 year old -- who was all about Vans a few years ago -- I am hearing "they're just not popular anymore." But this is the same kid drooling over the influencer collabs Converse is dropping. These kids are about cool, new and hard to come by. They also follow trends and influencers and often get dressed starting with their feet -- I'm not kidding. Kicks are a huge identity statement, and brands have to keep on the outer edges of cool to stay ahead. I love Vans and hope they can get back on track, but they had better move fast.
  • Posted on: 05/18/2021

    Is Amazon the safest place to work in retail?

    The first thing I thought of while reading this is that it’s likely a strategic test for a new Amazon offering for B2B. I’ve always felt that Amazon was coming for health, but they don’t launch anything publicly until it’s ready for mass scale. I love the spirit of it, but I’m betting that this will become WorkingWell by Amazon for business owners. When that happens, what do they get? Data. Lots and lots of data tied to lots of people’s health that ties to lots of money in health, wellness and pharma. I don’t mean to sound jaded, but Amazon has never done anything out of altruism -- they use a sharp hook to solve real friction points and make gobs of money (and secure lots of power) by doing it.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2021

    Lululemon to pilot ‘Like New’ clothing test

    I myself -- and frankly all of my friends -- shop designer resale ALL the time. As far as used workout wear, all resold items are screened for quality before they are accepted and put on the floor. Unless it's Goodwill, no icky or worn out items are ever for sale. Also, workout clothes are funny. Most women will relate that we find the items we love and wear them a lot ... the ones that don't tend to get 1-2 uses and then sit in a drawer -- and these are the items we look to re-sell. I say good for Lulu!
  • Posted on: 04/13/2021

    Toms finds one-for-one charitable model doesn’t add up for its business

    I think the answer comes down to how they use this new direction to share the stories of the impact that they are making. People like to see tangible outcomes from efforts like these — it’s how they emotionally connect to them. I hope they have a crack leader on this initiative and make Tom’s contribution to the greater good something everyone understands and buys into — literally.
  • Posted on: 04/13/2021

    Will Bed Bath & Beyond’s new ad help change how consumers see the retailer?

    I love the brand platform of “Home, Happier.” As a former ad executive, I think the execution could have been a bit more compelling -- but it’s still on the right track. The trick is to now turn this promise into a 360-degree customer experience. Like my colleagues share above, they need to bring it to life with the store and associate experience, but also with the support, inspiration, design and decision tools that surround the shopper’s journey. Sounds like a really fun challenge and I wish them luck!
  • Posted on: 03/30/2021

    Will Bed Bath & Beyond achieve its omni-always dream with its latest digital-first moves?

    Well, as far as "put your money where your mouth is," these moves are clear indicators that Bed Bath & Beyond means business. Great hires as well. As far as omni-always, I’d expect a CXO that threads across every touchpoint with a customer first, competitively different position, teams that are adhering to overall sales (not separate channel goals) and an agile, motivated and fast-moving test and learn approach. I like this brand and always have. I have high hopes that they are going to pull out of last year’s rut and show the industry what a C-suite supported pivot really is.
  • Posted on: 03/30/2021

    Are remote controlled robots ready to deliver for grocers and drugstores?

    I'm joining in with the sentiment of the others. Cool and sexy? Sure. Realistic and mission-critical? Not so much. There's also the issue of theft and vandalism. It just seems like using humans is the better route, plus it keeps people employed. Novel idea, eh?
  • Posted on: 03/24/2021

    Will Five Below’s sales go above and beyond with a new store-in-store concept?

    It sounds like they are gunning for the same "differentiated, guilt-free, joyful shopping experience" that popshelf is going for -- which is a great move in my mind. Shoppers that love the thrill of the hunt will likely flock to this and agreed, it fills a void while also motivating people back into physical stores.
  • Posted on: 03/24/2021

    Walmart uses brutal self-assessment in omnichannel turnaround strategy

    I find this post extraordinarily encouraging. 25 years in retail, most of it ultimately focused on CX, and I can't tell you how often I've held up Walmart as the poster child of great price value, bipolar customer experience. This is so often the case when a retailer is extremely profitable -- if they're printing money, why should they care if their customers are happy with them? Again, looking at this issue hard means that they care -- and since so many follow their lead, hopefully this sparks a positive trend.
  • 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.

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