For many people, their first job involved working in retail in some capacity. It often starts as a summer job in high school as a way to keep the gas tank full. Laura Meyer started in retail a bit earlier than most. From age five, she grew up working in her dad’s Ace Hardware stores. From helping at the registers to packing bags, Laura’s responsibilities and co-workers served as a de facto babysitter through adolescence as she developed a passion for retail.
That early experience and exposure eventually helped led her to a job at Amazon after college in 2014. She joined the account associate program, which hired recent grads to train and teach them. Laura started with Amazon’s media group, which sat adjacent to retail sector, selling various ad products and leveraging Amazon’s retail data on products sold across grocery, kitchen and mobile app categories. “While I worked in ad tech for a couple years, I had to stayed tuned in to what was happening on the retail side,” said Laura. “Plus, I knew I wanted to get back to what I was passionate about eventually.”
Earlier this year, Laura brought her retail career full circle and launched own company that helps start-ups or traditional companies get on major e-commerce marketplaces like Amazon. “The idea actually started to take form when I was working at Amazon,” she recalled. “Working with them can be an opaque and laborious process, so I launched Envision Horizons to help brands get on these platforms and manage day-to-day tasks, formulate their overall growth strategy and drive incremental sales.”
“Retail today never stops. It doesn’t matter if it’s midnight on a Saturday when you’re dealing with customers across the world shopping through a litany of digital marketplaces,” said Laura. She noted that she uses several tools to keep up with the pace and keep her costs down, including software for accounting, marketing, tracking her competition and logging appointments and to-dos.
While it might seem hectic, Laura is optimistic about the momentum of Envision Horizons and the industry at large. “Most people don’t realize that in Q4 2016, the percent of e-commerce sales was only 8.3 percent. There’s so much room for growth in e-commerce, and that’s exciting – we’re only at the tip of the iceberg.” The industry is changing rapidly, but Laura often reflects on the advice of Jeff Bezos, who has said that no matter what changes, the customer will always want lower prices.
“I always have that quote in mind, but I don’t subscribe to it blindly,” said Laura. Instead, she believes that there is a balance between the best price and the best experience, and that there is a sweet spot that retailers should shoot for. For her, part of the key to helping brands offer the best prices and best experiences is staying nimble and relying on the latest technologies to compete with the gorillas like Amazon. “Building up digital and e-commerce strategies is crucial for retailers,” she added. “Leaning on the latest technology to adapt with the times and pivot is especially important for big companies that might otherwise struggle to build momentum required to move that boulder.”