Anyone who knows Laura Davis-Taylor knows she is passionate about retail and particularly about technologies that can do the kind of measurement that provides conclusive measurement on whether whatever’s being done in-store is actually working.
She’s been trying to do that first-hand, lately, through something called the Living Retail Lab – a unique store in her hometown of Atlanta. The lab was and is testing tech like video analytics and triggered content to assess what kinds of communications in-store actually work.
That was through her partnership in a boutique consultancy High Street Collective, which will carry on while Laura takes on a full-time gig with another Atlanta company, called InReality. She is now that company’s Chief Strategy Officer.
InReality does audience measurement and analytics tuned to retail – using computer vision and sensors to get a true sense of who looks at marketing messaging. Laura has been around this stuff for a long time and what got her over the line, to join the company, was a platform that was anonymous but intensely accurate. She related how pattern recognition, among many things, can parse out store staff in the measurement (so they aren’t considered part of the consumer audience count) and the ability to do things like assess body size, so kids aren’t counted.
InReality says in its product materials that it “enables venue owners, brands and retailers to understand and tune the experiences and multi-sensory stimulus they deliver to customers so that they can optimize revenue and profits. Through its SaaS platform, coupled with a customizable suite of computer vision and sensor technologies, they provide real-time, irrefutable metrics for place-based KPIs.”
“Anyone who knows me is aware of how committed I am to measurement – knowing what’s really happening in a store or venue, what kind of people are there, what they are doing and what we should do about it to fortify ROI,” says Davis-Taylor. “The biggest challenge has been piecing the various platforms and data streams together to get the ‘complete picture’ and acting on it dynamically. The data quality has also been historically spotty, leaving it up to consultants to clean and analyze the data to generate insights that stakeholder teams could utilize confidently. InReality provides the best solution I’ve seen for solving these challenges, and I’m delighted to start a new career chapter passionately focused on helping stores and spaces work more profitably.”
InReality is run by Ron Levac, who has been around the company for ages, running companies like RiseVision and Cenique. He’s now CEO of InReality: “We have watched Laura’s impact on the industry and her fierce dedication to not only leading the conversations strategically but proving out her approaches with hard revenue. We know the importance of providing industry partners with seasoned expertise as we navigate the exciting opportunities for spacial analytics and responsive experiences. With Laura on board, we’re confident our platform will continue to evolve into an essential tool for giving them an extra edge.”
“The in-venue data gap has been a black hole for too long,” Davis-Taylor adds. “I love the place-based industry, and I love the amazing people, products and potential within it. Until we can follow every other established media venue with dependable analytics that fuel both context and commerce at scale, we will continue to wrestle for our piece of the media and marketing pie. It’s going to be a pleasure to bring InReality’s solution to brands and retailers through the industry ecosystem, helping us all rise up together.”
I had a chat with LDT earlier in the week (we’re both on the DSF board, but I have also known her for ages). She was excited, although a little frustrated that despite the obvious value of that retail lab, it was not getting the kind of industry traction it needed to be more of a going thing for her.
She has always been on the strategy side, and this represents the first time she’s behind and helping advocate and sell a product. Unlike many companies that are technology-first, and sell themselves that way, Laura KNOWS and TALKS the language of retail and shopper-marketing.
She’s one of the sharpest people in this industry, and an Energizer Bunny. Good pickup for InReality, which is competing for attention and business with everyone from pure-play analytics shops like Quividi and VSBLTY to NEC and Samsung (which is starting to market shopper analytics) to RetailNext.
HighStreet, meanwhile, has announced that Carolyn O’Brien will be joining the firm as a Chief Customer Officer and partner.
“We are thrilled to have Carolyn join us a partner,” says HighStreet Co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer, Ed King. “Her pedigree and experience working on large projects for Fortune 500 clients as well as entrepreneurial companies will fit perfectly with HighStreet’s creative approach to innovation and digital transformation.”
As brick and mortar stores continue to shutter and outdated malls turn to dust, a new reality to commerce is here. Digitally-enabled platforms and on-demand delivery providers have caused retailers, CPGs and food service entities to re-think how — and where — transactions occur. The concepts of brick and mortar retail, eateries/restaurants and grocery stores are rapidly changing.
While in-venue innovation and their Living Retail Lab are still a focus for HighStreet, e-commerce, on-demand delivery and other transactional commerce platforms are squarely part of their innovation ecosystem moving forward.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.