Noel Hamill Of parcelLab: How AI Is Disrupting Our Industry, and What We Can Do About It

An Interview With Cynthia Corsetti

As you integrate AI, champion ethical considerations such as fairness in algorithms, data privacy protection, and transparency in AI-powered decision-making. Build trust with your customers by being clear about how you use AI and prioritize its role in enhancing the customer experience.

Artificial Intelligence is no longer the future; it is the present. It’s reshaping landscapes, altering industries, and transforming the way we live and work. With its rapid advancement, AI is causing disruption — for better or worse — in every field imaginable. While it promises efficiency and growth, it also brings challenges and uncertainties that professionals and businesses must navigate. What can one do to pivot if AI is disrupting their industry? As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Noel Hamill, Chief Marketing Officer at premier global retail, e-commerce and post-purchase customer experience platform parcelLab

As Global Chief Marketing Officer at parcelLab, Noel defines and executes parcelLab’s global go-to-market strategy and vision, overseeing all marketing functions and transforming the customer journey to fuel the company’s next stage of business growth.

Noel has a proven track record driving significant and sustained global growth for dynamic, private equity-backed SaaS companies, designing and deploying creative, data-driven marketing programs that fuel revenue expansion, grow market share and elevate brand recognition. Noel most recently served as Global Chief Marketing Officer at Forsta, a SaaS technology platform providing technology, data, and expertise for research, healthcare and customer experience measurement where he was responsible for brand development and strategy, voice of the customer, public relations, social media and events. He has held a range of senior marketing, sales and product roles in a range of business including Ladbrokes Coral, EE, Prevayl and Vodafone.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive into our discussion our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Throughout my career, I have held a range of different roles in areas of marketing, sales and product management. While in these roles, I have helped drive significant and sustained global growth for dynamic, private equity-backed SaaS companies, designing and deploying creative, data-driven marketing programs that fuel revenue expansion, grow market share, and elevate brand recognition.

This has all led me to my current role as Global Chief Marketing Officer at parcelLab, the premier global retail, e-commerce, and post-purchase platform. At parcelLab, I am focused on executing the go-to-market strategy and vision along with overseeing all marketing functions and transforming the customer journey to fuel the company’s next stage of growth.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

parcelLab is the only truly global post-purchase provider, enabling brands to increase top-line revenue, decrease operational cost, and optimize the customer experience. We help over 800 brands worldwide create meaningful and personalized post-purchase experiences throughout the end-to-end customer journey. Our platform offers features like branded tracking pages, automated communications, customizable returns workflows and portals, and data driven insights powered by AI. parcelLab continues to improve our products based on customer feedback and market trends. Additionally, the company’s leaders understand the direction retail is going and always stay one step ahead, bringing retailers into a global marketplace where everyone can enjoy the delightful experiences they deliver no matter where they are in the world.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  • Visionary: I believe it’s essential to look beyond the day-to-day and craft a compelling vision for the future of the company. This vision should be ambitious but achievable, and it should inspire employees to work towards a common goal. Most recently, I was working in a SaaS customer experience technology company where we brought three businesses together and crafted a vision that all employees from each company could buy into.
  • Strong Communicator: Effective communication is key to getting everyone on the same page. As a Marketing leader, I have honed my ability to clearly articulate the company’s vision, goals, and strategies to employees at all levels. But communicating also involves actively listening to employee feedback and concerns. This two-way communication builds trust and fosters a positive work environment.
  • Decisive: Businesses need to be able to make choices and move forward. As an expert in fast-growing companies, I have discovered that it is more important to make decisions and learn from them quickly. You have to have the confidence to take calculated risks, but they also understand the importance of learning from mistakes. Decisiveness keeps the company moving forward and helps to avoid costly delays.

Let’s now move to the main point of our discussion about AI. Can you explain how AI is disrupting your industry? Is this disruption hurting or helping your bottom line?

AI is disrupting the post-purchase and e-commerce industry in several ways. It is the topic on top of everyone’s mind. All the most popular events have at least one session that discusses AI in the ecommerce space. Retailers are trying to understand how it can help them be more efficient, how other retailers are using AI, and what tech providers are incorporating AI into their products so that it provides more value to the retailer. More specifically in the post-purchase space, it is impacting areas like delivery date promises, communications, and returns.

As for parcelLab, we are leaning into AI innovations. We leverage AI throughout our products. For example, we have a product that helps retailers present more accurate delivery dates on their product detail pages and at checkout. Also, another new AI tool that we have called Trending Late has a more than 97% average accuracy rate in predicting when an order will be late so retailers can proactively notify their customers and prevent them from reaching out to customer service agents. These are tools that retailers are looking for software providers like parcelLab to have, so we continue to innovate and enhance our products with AI that helps retailers boost customer satisfaction, reduce returns, and minimize operational complexities.

Which specific AI technology has had the most significant impact on your industry?

For the post-purchase industry, I would say Machine Learning (ML) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) play the most significant roles. More specifically, ML powers tools such as estimated delivery dates and product recommendations that analyze customer purchase history and browsing behavior to recommend relevant products during the post-purchase experience, leading to increased sales and customer satisfaction. With NLP, it is most commonly used for chatbots that can answer customer questions and provide support and for sentiment analysis which helps with analyzing customer reviews to understand sentiment and allow retailers to identify areas for improvement. Both technologies help brands create better and more personalized post-purchase experiences.

Can you share a pivotal moment when you recognized the profound impact AI would have on your sector?

There were many pivotal moments as is always the case with technology. One example is when ChatGPT started picking up steam and everyone was trying to figure out use cases for it. The beneficial impact for marketing and the post-purchase industry continues to be recognized as new iterations of the technology emerge.

Recently in Google Labs announcements, there was an example where Gemini can search your inbox for a receipt, check your email for the order number, complete a returns form, and schedule the pick-up that works best based on your calendar. This is just one way AI is changing the direct returns experience for the consumer!

How are you preparing your workforce for the integration of AI, and what skills do you believe will be most valuable in an AI-enhanced future?

AI presents a tremendous opportunity to elevate marketing and unlock new avenues for growth. Here at parcelLab, we’re taking a proactive approach to prepare our marketing team for this AI-powered future.

Our strategy is two-pronged:

  1. Building an AI-literate workforce through training & development: I encourage my team to look into AI-related training programs that equip them with a foundational understanding of AI principles, applications, and limitations. This empowers them to collaborate effectively with AI tools and leverage their capabilities strategically.
  2. Cultivating a human-centric approach: While AI excels at automation, generation of different content ideas and concepts, and data analysis, human creativity remains irreplaceable. We encourage our marketing team to hone their creative storytelling abilities and strategic thinking to develop compelling customer experiences that go beyond the capabilities of AI. Additionally, building trust and forging authentic connections with our customers is paramount. We believe AI can be a powerful tool, but it cannot replicate the human touch. We’re committed to fostering emotional intelligence and empathy within our team to ensure our marketing efforts resonate on a deeper level.

By fostering an AI-literate workforce that embraces a human-centric approach, we’re confident we can leverage the power of AI to enhance our marketing efforts, personalize the customer journey, and ultimately drive long-term business success.

In terms of the most valuable skills in an AI-enhanced future, I see a strong focus on:

  • Data storytelling: Transforming data insights into compelling narratives that inform marketing strategies and resonate with customers.
  • Agile marketing: Adapting to ever-changing consumer behavior and market trends, leveraging AI to inform decision-making and optimize campaigns in real-time.
  • Critical thinking & problem-solving: The ability to analyze complex situations, identify opportunities within AI-generated data, and develop creative solutions that maximize marketing ROI.

By cultivating these skills within our team, we’re ensuring parcelLab remains at the forefront of innovation.

What are the biggest challenges in upskilling your workforce for an AI-centric future?

  1. Bridging the Knowledge Gap: Some team members may have limited technical knowledge of AI. We need to encourage members to participate in training programs or attend webinars that demystify AI concepts, explain its applications in marketing, and equip employees with the necessary vocabulary to collaborate effectively with AI tools.
  2. Combating Change Aversion: Some individuals may be hesitant to embrace new technologies like AI. We need to foster a culture of continuous learning, address concerns openly, and highlight the benefits of AI for individual career growth and overall marketing effectiveness.
  3. Prioritizing Time Management: Upskilling requires dedication, but employees have existing workloads. We need to offer flexible learning options, including microlearning modules, on-demand training resources, and dedicated learning hours to integrate upskilling into their routines.
  4. Measuring the Impact of Upskilling: Justifying the investment in upskilling requires demonstrating its impact. We need to develop clear metrics to track improvements in marketing performance, campaign effectiveness, and employee engagement after upskilling initiatives.

What ethical considerations does AI introduce into your industry, and how are you tackling these concerns?

At parcelLab, we’re excited about the potential of AI to revolutionize the post-purchase experience and create a win-win for both retailers and their customers. However, we recognize that AI comes with ethical considerations that we must address proactively. Here are some key areas of focus:

1. Transparency & Explainability: We strive for transparency in our use of AI. Our team understands how AI tools function and can explain the rationale behind AI-generated recommendations to customers if needed.

2. Data Privacy and Security: We prioritize customer privacy. We collect and utilize data for our products that leverage AI only with explicit customer consent and offer clear options for data deletion upon request. Robust security measures are in place to safeguard customer information. We also advocate for using the least amount of data necessary to power AI tools and anonymize data where possible to further protect customer privacy.

3. Focus on Customer Experience: Ultimately, AI in the post-purchase space should enhance customer satisfaction. We monitor customer feedback and adjust our AI strategies to ensure they contribute to a seamless, positive post-purchase journey.

Addressing these considerations is an ongoing process. We actively participate in discussions about AI ethics and stay updated on best practices. Our commitment is to harnessing the power of AI responsibly, ensuring a future where AI empowers us to help retailers deliver exceptional post-purchase experiences that earn customer trust and loyalty.

What are your “Five Things You Need To Do, If AI Is Disrupting Your Industry”?

1. Embrace a Growth Mindset:

  • Example: Instead of fearing AI as a job replacement, view it as an opportunity to upskill your workforce. Invest in training programs that equip your team with the necessary knowledge to collaborate effectively with AI tools and leverage their capabilities to enhance their work.

2. Identify Areas for AI Integration:

  • Example: In the e-commerce post-purchase industry, AI can be used to personalize the experience based on customer purchase history. Analyze your business processes and identify areas where AI could automate tasks, improve efficiency, or generate valuable insights for a more customer-centric experience.

3. Focus on Data Strategies:

  • Example: AI thrives on data. Ensure your business has a robust data collection and management strategy in place. Invest in data analysis tools and cultivate a data-driven culture within your organization to derive actionable insights from the data you collect. Remember to prioritize data security and privacy throughout this process.

4. Prioritize Human Expertise:

  • Example: While AI excels at automation and data analysis, human creativity, strategic thinking, and emotional intelligence remain irreplaceable. Invest in developing these skills within your team to ensure your brand can still connect with customers on a personal level and adapt to evolving market trends.

5. Advocate for Ethical Practices:

  • Example: As you integrate AI, champion ethical considerations such as fairness in algorithms, data privacy protection, and transparency in AI-powered decision-making. Build trust with your customers by being clear about how you use AI and prioritize its role in enhancing the customer experience.

What are the most common misconceptions about AI within your industry, and how do you address them?

  1. AI will replace human jobs: AI automates tasks, but it lacks the strategic thinking and emotional intelligence of humans. Instead of thinking of it as a replacement, we encourage education of how AI can be used to help retailers improve their post-purchase experiences. parcelLab has recently started hosting webinars with AI-centric topics as well as have been attending many popular events with sessions that educate the e-commerce space around AI.
  2. AI is a “Magic Bullet” solution: AI is a powerful tool, but it requires careful planning and integration. There must be a strategy in which you identify specific goals and challenges you want AI to address before implementing it. Ensure your team understands how to interpret AI results or leverage software that utilizes AI for actionable insights.
  3. AI is a threat to customer privacy: Ethical AI priorities data security and privacy. As always, transparency is key. Be clear about how you collect and use customer data for AI applications. Offer clear options for data deletion and emphasize robust security measures in place.
  4. AI makes e-commerce impersonal: AI can personalize the customer experience by providing targeted recommendations, offering tailored customer support and streamlining interaction. The human touch does matter which is why it is important to balance AI automation with human interaction to foster trust and build genuine connections with customers.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” — Confucius

It took me years to work out what this meant. This quote was part of the reason why I moved into marketing and technology because it is what I love to do.

Off-topic, but I’m curious. As someone steering the ship, what thoughts or concerns often keep you awake at night? How do those thoughts influence your daily decision-making process?

  1. The ever-shifting landscape: Consumer preferences and online behavior are constantly changing Keeping pace with these trends and adapting your marketing strategies accordingly can be a challenge. As a CMO, I prioritize data analysis and make sure that my team is leveraging the tools that provide real-time insights. Also, I encourage a culture of experimentation and testing to identify what resonates best with the evolving audience.
  2. Delivering a measurable ROI: Justifying marketing spend to stakeholders requires measurable results. Attributing the success of a campaign to specific marketing efforts can be difficult in the complex digital landscape. I focus on implementing data-driven marketing strategies with clearly defined metrics and performance indicators. At parcelLab, we leverage the tools we need to track campaign performance and customer behavior across different channels.
  3. Standing out in a crowded marketplace: In a competitive market, differentiating your brand and capturing customer attention requires continuous innovation and a clear value proposition. I encourage my team to think creatively and explore new marketing channels. In the software space, it is common for businesses to use variations of blue as a part of their brand. When I joined parcelLab, I encouraged my team to test different colors that could make us break through the noise and separate us from the pack.

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 would bring appreciation of non-digital art to the masses. We are so caught up on our screens that I think it’s important to surround ourselves with artic creations to nurture a different part of our brain — whether that is paintings, sculptures, or your kid’s drawings. Celebrate art!

How can our readers further follow you online?

You can follow me on LinkedIn —

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

About the Interviewer: Cynthia Corsetti is an esteemed executive coach with over two decades in corporate leadership and 11 years in executive coaching. Author of the upcoming book, “Dark Drivers,” she guides high-performing professionals and Fortune 500 firms to recognize and manage underlying influences affecting their leadership. Beyond individual coaching, Cynthia offers a 6-month executive transition program and partners with organizations to nurture the next wave of leadership excellence.