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Making the Switch: Bringing Retail Experience In-House

June 3rd, 2021 | 5 min. read

Making the Switch: Bringing Retail Experience In-House Blog Feature

Justin McCoubry

Justin is the Vice President of Marketing at Creator by Zmags. His focus has been on creating unique brand experiences and developing growth strategies.

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Here, at Creator by Zmags, our mission is to hire incredible individuals throughout our organization. This means we're hiring globally and headhunting the best people for very specific roles. We particularly wanted people that would bring a unique perspective and experience within our customers' industries. For example, one of our biggest customer industries is retail, and recently we hired two women with different retail backgrounds. 


I'd like to introduce Allison Vernerey, our new Senior Product Manager, and Alex Spiret, our new Brand and Marketing Program Manager.


We held a short interview to highlight how their retail backgrounds bring a new and thought-provoking perspective to the team. 


Question 1:

Before you both joined Creator by Zmags, what was your role?


AllisonAllison Vernerey:

"I was a Product Manager at The Home Depot, focusing on website experience. There were so many products, and they had to be navigatable for B2C and B2B. The multiple kinds of layers, interactions, and capabilities made the website a colossal ongoing project. I was responsible for ensuring that we were giving the right experience for customers and making sure they could shop easily. The linchpin was the functionality of interconnecting the digital and brick and motor experience."


AlexAlex Spiret:

"I was the Marketing Manager for a workwear and healthcare apparel company. I was in charge of a lean team creating all customer-facing marketing material, from website and email to social media and store signage. The business was predominantly brick and motor and in the process of transitioning to digital. The business model was based on supplying customers with multiple brands, all under one roof, which meant that navigating branding was tricky."


Question 2:

Why did you make the move from retail to a tech company?


AllisonAllison Vernerey:

"As a Product Manager overseeing a team of engineers, UX designers, and analysts building a website, our focus was on coding and being tied to release cycles. Something that is challenging in a big business is that there are many stakeholders. They always need more, and the bottleneck is always engineering resources. So my job was to say 'no,' prioritize, and only take the most important thing. I have to ensure that the customer experience wasn't impacted negatively.


But, the truth is that it's frustrating always having to say no to new ideas. The cost of engineering resources is so significant that it removes the power to experiment and test. I had to build a business case for everything, which took too much time. I wanted to be a part of an agile process. To take a step back from being in retail day-to-day and be a part of a solution to these issues."


AlexAlex Spiret:

"I have managed the marketing for multiple retail companies over the years and often had the same limitations; resources! For example, my last company used Oracle, which meant that we would need to design within a limiting (and boring) template every time we wanted to update any image on the website. We'd also have to get the development team involved to make anything live on the site. It was a time-consuming nightmare. 


Then Creator by Zmags came along and changed our lives. We could finally update category banners, landing pages, and specialized holiday campaigns. Even with limited resources, we were finally able to rethink the entire digital strategy. The best part was how easy the platform was to use. The lean marketing team suddenly had all these possibilities at their fingertips, and I became a huge advocate for Creator by Zmags. I was enthralled by the platform and wanted to bring it to the attention of as many marketers as possible. I don't think I would have left the retail world for any other tech company."


Question 3:

How do you utilize your retail knowledge in your role now?


AllisonAllison Vernerey:

"After working with the same day-to-day constraints that hinder most retailers, I focus my efforts on projects that develop the right tools to help retailers reach their potential. I use my past experiences to relate to customers. I have been in their shoes, and I understand their pain points. Because I have been immersed in it, I now think about innovation and what will come next. 


I value engineering so much, but it makes me appreciate, even more, the concept of 'no code' solutions. Instead, engineering and development teams should focus on the bigger infrastructure architecture they're needed for. Product managing the evolution of a platform that frees up engineering's time and empowers marketers to take control of their campaigns is now my passion."


AlexAlex Spiret:

"In my role at Creator by Zmags, I focus on branding, customer marketing, and design. However, I still get to use Creator every day on our website and in emails, which is a blessing because I love using it. My main focus is customer marketing and getting the message to other marketers that the solution to their problems is here. I was one of them, and I know how much of a game-changer in costs, time efficiency, and overall resources Creator is for a marketing team.  Another aspect of my job is talking to existing customers about their experiences, process, and pain points so that we can fully understand what updates and features they hope to see in the future."


Allison and Alex use their unique perspectives as platform users and draw upon conversations with customers to determine what type of updates and releases we should do next. In their short time with us, they have challenged new ideas and spearheaded new product releases, such as the world's only truly interactive email solution. This powerhouse combo will ensure that we continue to provide our customers with what they need, what they want, and solutions to the future challenges in the retail industry and beyond.