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Author Monica Eaton-Cardone: The Future of Retail Over The Next Five Years

Chargeback issuances are going to increase. Unfortunately, card-not-present transactions are always at a higher risk for chargebacks. Thus, expanding the use of card-not-present options like online ordering will result in more chargeback filings. This could be especially troubling for traditionally brick-and-mortar brands, who have limited experience with chargebacks. As part of our series about the future […]

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Chargeback issuances are going to increase. Unfortunately, card-not-present transactions are always at a higher risk for chargebacks. Thus, expanding the use of card-not-present options like online ordering will result in more chargeback filings. This could be especially troubling for traditionally brick-and-mortar brands, who have limited experience with chargebacks.

As part of our series about the future of retail, I had the pleasure of interviewing Monica Eaton-Cardone.

As an acclaimed entrepreneur, speaker, and author, Monica Eaton-Cardone is widely recognized as a thought leader in the FinTech industry and a champion of women in technology. She established her entrepreneurial credentials upon selling her first business at the age of 19. When a subsequent eCommerce venture was plagued by revenue-leeching chargebacks and fraud, Eaton-Cardone rose to the challenge by developing a robust solution that combined human insight and Agile technology. Today, her innovations are used by thousands of companies worldwide, cementing her reputation as one of the payment industry’s foremost experts in risk management, chargeback mitigation, and fraud prevention. Monica Eaton-Cardone is honored to be the recipient of various industry awards. Her own expertise, as well as the services provided by her companies, have been recognized as outstanding by her peers and other industry leaders. Visit www.monicaec.com.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Ofcourse, thanks for having me!

It’s an interesting story, because when I first started out, I never intended to build a career in the payments industry. I was formerly an eCommerce merchant. While the business did well at first, we eventually started to see more and more trouble with chargebacks. Our chargeback issuances were going up month after month, and we were in danger of breaching the chargeback thresholds established by Visa and Mastercard.

I looked everywhere for a solution, spending tons of money and time in the process, but no solution provider offered what I really needed, which was to simply make these chargebacks go away. Eventually, I said: “You know what? I’ll find an answer and solve this problem myself.” I learned everything there was to know about chargebacks and payments and developed a strategy to stop them based on what I’d learned. Over time, we proved to be so successful that other merchants and banks started coming to us asking for help with their own problems! That was when I realized that this wasn’t an isolated issue; chargebacks were a problem for merchants everywhere.

I started Chargebacks911 in 2012 as a consulting operation, thinking it would be something I could do on the side. The demand for our services grew so rapidly, though, that Chargebacks911 became my main focus. Since 2012, we’ve expanded into an international brand with 350 employees in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I was starting out at my first job, which was as a warehouse assistant at an interior design company. I was young and inexperienced, and I definitely had a lot to learn, but I really wanted to prove myself.

When I applied for the job, I actually lied about my credentials, and said that I had a degree in design. I managed to keep up the façade for a few months, but the owner, a man named Blair Rigby, eventually found out. I was called to the office, and fully expected to be fired on the spot; instead, Blair explained to me that, while he didn’t appreciate that I lied, he did respect my work ethic, and let me stay on the job.

That was a real revelation for me. Not just about being straightforward and honest with people, but also that, your ability, skill, and work ethic will ultimately matter far more than any paper qualification.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaway you learned from that?

Strange as it sounds, the lesson might be to never overlook maintaining your facilities. When we first started the company, we were operating out of a small office space in Clearwater. Our accountant was working through the weekend because she had some crucial tax work we needed to get done before Monday, and I stopped by the office to see if I could lend a hand.

Unfortunately, the air conditioner had gone out, and if you’ve ever experienced summer in Florida with no AC…it’s not fun. So, I walked into the office and was greeted by our accountant shouting, “Stop walking! Don’t move! Please stay where you are and do not come any further!” I was alarmed at first, but then I burst out laughing when I learned that she had stripped down to her underwear to try and deal with the heat! We still laugh about this even now.

Are you working on any new exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?

We’re always working to expand on what we do now at Chargebacks911. The eCommerce space is fast-moving. Industry regulations, practices, technologies, and sales channels can change quickly, and we need to be able to respond fast.

Most recently, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, we moved to make the client onboarding process much easier and faster. We’re also working to streamline our client portal. We have a few other projects underway that I can’t really discuss much at the moment, but we’re very excited about them and expect that they’ll be a real sea change in how the industry manages disputes.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

A lot of people have talked about “work-life balance” in recent years. Personally, I think it’s less important to have a balance, and instead, to have a harmony between what you love and what you spend your time doing.

It’s easy to simply recommend that people find a job doing what they love. The reality, though, is that even in jobs we enjoy, we spend a lot of time doing things we don’t want to do, and that’s where the burn out can start to build. So, instead of saying “okay, I’ll push through the day, then I’m immediately checked out as soon as 5 o’clock hits,” I think it’s better to find a way of making your work life mesh with your personal life.

Emphasize the things that fuel your passion for your work, while also incorporating your personal passions into your office life.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

My first boss, Blair Rigby, played an important role. He taught me how important it was to let people learn from their mistakes, rather than punish them.

I was a freshman in college at the time, and I made a lot of mistakes on the job. If Blair hadn’t been so understanding, if he’d responded to those mistakes by chastising or firing me, it probably would have impressed on me the idea that I should not take so many chances in the future. Instead, he allowed his employees to use their mistakes as learning opportunities.

I’ve tried to foster that same approach in the culture of Chargebacks911. It’s not the end of the world if something doesn’t work out; we learn what went wrong, then adjust and move on, resolved to do better next time. This ultimately encourages innovation and creative problem solving.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We try to use Chargebacks911’s success as an opportunity to make a meaningful impact, especially in our local community. First, we’ve organized and funded the ‘Paid for Grades’ program since 2013, which awards cash prizes to participating students as a reward for their academic performance. The cash is an incentive that attracts students to the program, but over the course of the semester, most discover that improving their grades is a reward in itself. We’ve managed to help hundreds of students in Tampa Bay improve their school performance, while also helping them discover aptitudes and abilities they didn’t know they had, gaining confidence in the process.

In addition, we also have our ‘Take Charge for Charity’ program, which is our own weekly charity challenge. We make a donation every week to a different organization; typically, it’s a group helping our neighbors in Tampa Bay who are most in-need. Lately, we’ve been making donations to support COVID-19 relief efforts.

This is a key component of what we do at Chargebacks911. While I love helping merchants protect and grow their businesses, I see our efforts like Paid for Grades and Take Charge for Charity as the true end product of what we do. I really believe that we should judge every business based on how it improves the world, and I want Chargebacks911 to be a great name in that regard.

Ok super. Now let’s jump to the main question of our interview. Can you share 5 examples of how retail companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers like to shop?

1. eCommerce is going to see a significant bump in sales. Already, eCommerce sales are up significantly since March. With millions of people stuck at home for months and unable to visit brick-and-mortar stores, those who hadn’t yet embraced online shopping are doing so now.

2. Hybrid shopping channels like in-store pickup, curbside pickup, and mobile checkout are gaining in popularity. People are trying to avoid unnecessary contact wherever possible. Not only do these options minimize contact, they’re also faster and more convenient, so it’s a no-brainer.

3. Chargeback issuances are going to increase. Unfortunately, card-not-present transactions are always at a higher risk for chargebacks. Thus, expanding the use of card-not-present options like online ordering will result in more chargeback filings. This could be especially troubling for traditionally brick-and-mortar brands, who have limited experience with chargebacks.

4. More emphasis on mobile wallets. Tools like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay appeal to that contactless sensibility in the same way as in-store pickup and mobile checkout. Plus, mobile payment apps typically have two-factor authentication built in; you have to unlock the device, then provide a secondary form of identification to authorize payment. This could prevent fraud and protect merchants from chargebacks.

5. More emphasis on in-store experience. As we saw with the reopening of Toys R Us in late 2019, they recognized that the old model of stocking stores with mound of products was not feasible anymore. Instead, they scaled back their product offerings, and emphasized creating a more fun, interactive store experience to draw customers. I think the retailers that thrive in the coming years will be the ones who go with that experiential commerce model, while leveraging technology to simplify the sales process.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’ve always been a big advocate of getting more women involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). There’s a substantial gender imbalance in these fields, particularly here in the US. As of 2019, women only occupied a little over a quarter of these jobs. That may change soon, as more than 50% of people under age 29 who hold a degree in a STEM field are women.

Women also have high turnover rates in these fields, though. Many who go into STEM will ultimately leave after a few years. I believe that the primary problem is that we don’t have the same networks in place to learn and promote ourselves that our male counterparts have.

It’s important for women in STEM fields to speak out on this issue and take a proactive stance to serve as a role model and a mentor for the next generation.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can follow me on Twitter (@Monica_Eaton), as well as on LinkedIn, and on my own personal blog: http://monicaec.com/. I contribute regular guest content to a number of sites including Forbes, PaymentsSource, and other outlets focused on payments, finance, and business leadership. Following me on social is a great way to keep tabs on everything I publish!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Thanks, it was great to speak with you today!

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