Could you introduce yourself?
I am the Global VP of Marketing at Shopgate, currently overseeing all marketing and branding efforts, marketing services provided to our merchants and our partnership program. I am an experienced tech marketer, driven to develop marketing strategies that blend traditional techniques with emerging technology. My specialties include developing marketing strategies focused on consumer and B2B acquisition and retention, building compelling marketing collateral with simple, cohesive messages and optimizing sizable marketing budgets.
Could you tell us a bit more about what you do, your professional journey?
After completing my undergraduate degree in international business at St. Edward’s University in Austin, I decided to pursue my MBA at SEU. I graduated in 2007 with an MBA in global business. I started with Shopgate in Dec. 2015 as the Vice President of Marketing, Services and Partnerships, after working for 8 years in tech start-ups focused on consumer mobile apps.
My professional journey to Shopgate, however, has been an incredible ride.
My father was a civil service engineer, so my entire childhood was spent traveling and living around the world — the Philippines, the Azores, and Japan. After a couple of years in Japan, my parents decided to launch a Maintenance Repair and Operations (MRO) supply business focused on Government Services Administration (GSA) contracts in Asia. I started working administratively side by side with my parents. I learned accounting, payroll, international vendor payments, HR, how to bid on GSA contracts, and general business management. That experience, starting from a very young age, taught me the amount of work it takes to run/manage a company. Most importantly, I learned that if you aren’t passionate about your work, you have a higher probability of failing and life in general is a lot less fun. As an experienced government engineer, my dad was passionate about changing the way the military bases overseas-managed MRO and built programs that truly made the purchasing process more efficient and increased morale among military members on the bases. I was not quite as interested in government contracts, but was captivated by international trade and understanding different economies and the cultures that drive them.
I honestly never thought I’d be in marketing and never considered the fact that I’d be in technology. During grad school, I was approached by a member of the St. Edward’s grad school advisory board about a startup he was launching, and he offered me an internship working on structuring the architecture of the user experience. I moved over to work on marketing during our launch and eventually headed up marketing efforts. At the time I was apprehensive about it, because I wasn’t sure if I had the creative knack for it; I’m extremely pragmatic and logical. Turns out my creativity comes in the ability to be resourceful, see the big picture and figure out which puzzle pieces were needed to get there. This was when I realized I was going to be a marketer.
What does Shopgate do for merchants?
Shopgate offers a suite of customer-centric omnichannel commerce solutions, designed to activate the vision of innovative retailers to help them drive in-store traffic, lift revenue and create the ultimate customer experience with the power of a mobile shopping app, clienteling, and omnichannel fulfilment – all built to integrate into a retailer’s eCommerce platform or OMS. Powered by the Shopgate Connect platform, these commerce solutions are specifically designed for the custom needs and extensibility of mid-market retailers. Shopgate gives forward-thinking retailers the edge needed to build true omnichannel experiences that today’s consumers demand.
In today’s retail reality, retailers must have the ability to offer consumers a seamless omnichannel experience throughout all touchpoints. That doesn’t stop with buying on mobile. It must include connecting to brick-and-mortars for clienteling-powered personal consultations and the ability to pick up and return items in-store. Shopgate’s omnichannel commerce solutions give forward-thinking retailers game-changing results with an easy-to-use, customizable and cost-effective platform.
What are the evolutions you have observed in E-Commerce/mobile in recent years?
As we all know, the buzz around the supposed retail apocalypse has consistently focused on the death of the physical store. But the real truth is that the hysteria is really unfounded. Retail is changing, but not dying. The retail store is not only alive and well, but it’s also becoming more imaginative. That is where we have seen the evolution of eCommerce and mobile really take off. Retail winners are staying ahead of the pack with physical stores by removing the walls between digital and physical. A large part of their in-store digital successes includes utilizing the mobile channel to create convenient and seamless shopping experiences for consumers.
As well, with smartphones now playing the role of supporting actor in all aspects of consumers’ lives, it’s no surprise that shoppers expect their phones to assist in the shopping experience, especially when it comes to fulfilment options like BOPIS and ROPIS, or engaging with a retailer in a more personalized way via push notifications or clienteling capabilities.
Do you think omnichannel will be adopted by the majority of merchants, or is it a trend that sets the stage for something else?
We feel that it will be less about adopting the notion of “omnichannel” capabilities, and more about making personalized and consistent experiences the new retail norm, not just a trend. Customers don’t care about retail channels – they only care about getting the products when and where (and how) they want them. What’s more, modern shoppers want to feel special when they walk into the store or browse online, and they want to have a consistent experience in all channels. The idea of omnichannel is really about, as I said before, making retail more delightful and fun – we call it Omnichannel by Shopgate!
What are the problematics you encounter the most with merchants willing to develop an omnichannel strategy?
The biggest problem we encounter is retailers/merchants who do not have a seamless brand experience across all of their channels. It is hard for today’s shoppers to feel like they are the “star of the show” when they receive different experiences across different channels and touchpoints. Confused customers can turn into unsatisfied customers, making it more important than ever to connect all systems for a single, consistent experience built around their expectations. Consumers should only need to experience a brand instead of worrying about how to navigate through all of its channels.
What are the mistakes you encounter the most when dealing with E-Commerce/omnichannel merchants?
Consumers today have very high expectations: they want to use mobile apps in-store, they expect to buy online and pick up in-store, they use multiple channels when they shop, and they want memorable more personalized customer experiences. We see many merchants missing the mark on these expectations by not offering native mobile app access with relevant engagement or offering convenient fulfillment options like BOPIS or easy in-store returns. Many retailers are also missing the mark when it comes to their store associates by not equipping them with the tools they need to access customer profiles or to locate inventory.
What are the trends you think will appear in the next five years?
At a very high level, I think we will continue to see the merging of the physical and digital store due to the high standards placed by shoppers. In the next five years, we will continue to see:
- Seamless shopping experiences – Consumers’ shopping histories and transactions will easily flow from digital to physical channels.
- Quicker and more convenient shopping experiences – Fulfillment options will become more efficient, and customers will be able to get access to real-time information from retailers in terms of news, promotions and product lines.
- Customer-centricity becomes the norm – Consumers will expect retailers to engage with them on an ultra-personalized-level through technological touchpoints such as segmented in-app push notifications and relevant notifications on mobile phones.
What are the upcoming Shopgate projects?
At the beginning of 2020, we will be launching a few major brands on our new suite and we’re very excited to share that once they are live.