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Launchbox Ladies Event Focuses on the eCommerce Transformation

By Kat Schneider on February 3, 2020

Hillary Long (left) and Kelly Facchiano (center) were the speakers at a Lehigh Valley Launchbox event moderated by former Rea.deeming Beauty President Catherine Bailey (right).

When Kelly Facchiano took a job at Rodale Inc. in publishing, magazines and books, she worked in a business planning forecasting and budgeting capacity. Then, Amazon was a fledgling marketplace that showcased books in a way that allowed for convenience and ease.

Through her 24-year career with Rodale, Facchiano saw the online retail marketplace grow to substantial and imposing size that towers over small mom-and-pop brick and mortars but lacks interpersonal touches.

Nowadays, Facchiano sees the pendulum of commerce swinging back towards the personal touches those brick and mortars once offered, and retailers are benefiting from consumers’ need for personal interaction and a sense of pride choosing brands with which they identify.

This trend in e-commerce was just one topic of conversation on Jan. 30 at Penn State Lehigh Valley’s Launchbox Ladies: From Passion to Profit event titled “The eCommerce Transformation,” held at the university’s Center Valley campus.

The Lehigh Valley LaunchBox is Penn State Lehigh Valley’s business accelerator for early stage entrepreneurs, aimed at spurring economic development, job creation, and student career success through academic programs, training and incubation, funding for commercialization, and university-community collaborations.

Facchiano now uses her industry knowledge to help entrepreneurs as Director of Web and eCommerce Strategy for Factory LLC ,a business incubator in Bethlehem. She was a speaker at the Launchbox Ladies event along with Hillary Long, Penn State graduate and General Manager of Citro Digital, LLC in Emmaus.

Penn State Chancellor Tina Q. Richardson

The event was organized as part of a series by the LaunchBox Ladies Council, and the discussion was moderated by Catherine Bailey, former President/Chief Operating Officer at Rea.deeming Beauty, Inc. in Bethlehem.

“Generation Z is interested in knowing who they’re doing business with,” Long said.

Long said chat boxes offered on retail sites that help customers with their product questions are the start of that evolution back to a people-centered approach.

Dubbing the trend “Social Ecommerce” the duo highlighted the role of social media in online purchasing noting the importance of ad placement in Facebook and Instagram feeds.

“We’re getting back to that touchy-feely through e-commerce and consumers still thrive and want that,” Bailey said.

Although consumers want that personalized approach, they are not necessarily willing to pay the prices offered at traditional retail centers. For that reason, the ecommerce trend is on the upswing.

Penn State Chancellor Tina Q. Richardson offered opening remarks and noted that projections indicate in the next two years, the ecommerce industry will exceed $638 billion.

“The ecommerce trend is not slowing down,” explained Richardson.

Given the popularity and staying power of the online marketplace, keeping consumers’ data safe is a very serious consideration all e-commerce retailers must keep in mind, Long said.

“Consumers are craving that immersive experience when they go to brands, they are willing to sacrifice private data for convenience,” she said.

Online retailers must safeguard the personal information collected from each consumer, now more than ever, she said

“Technology, privacy, security — those are all things, if you are thinking about doing any kind of online presence, you really have to take seriously,” Long said. “Data laws are going to be very important in the next year.”

Long advised online entrepreneurs to find a technology company they can trust if they feel data security is not their strength.

For more information visit Lehigh Valley LaunchBox, email [email protected], or call 610-285-5208.

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