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Five questions with…Patrick Donoho

President of the Maryland Retailers Association on changes ahead for merchants

December 29, 2012|By Lorraine Mirabella, The Baltimore Sun

Online commerce has also substantially changed marketing for retailers. There is a growing divide between age groups on how people get, use and evaluate information about retailers and their products. Social media, online advertising, direct marketing, traditional advertising and other venues provide an ever changing challenge to retailers' marketing dollars. But retailers can better target their potential audiences across a multitude of different settings. Multichannel marketing is one of the bigger challenges/opportunities for retailers.

"Brick and mortar" stores are hopeful that our laws on sales and use tax and those governing relationships between states will be updated to better reflect the current marketplace and to level the playing field with online retailers. Under current Maryland law, Maryland retailers are required to collect and remit sales taxes on purchases of taxable items. For online retailers who are not in Maryland, that responsibility shifts to the consumer. Under current Maryland law, citizens are required to file quarterly sales taxes for all purchases of taxable items, on which the sales tax has not been collected, such as online. MRA and its members hope that elected officials will update the laws to shift that responsibility back to the online retailers.

Other than price and selection, retailers often say they compete on customer service. Do you think most consumers feel satisfied with service? And how much of a priority is customer service for retailers?

Customer loyalty is extremely important to retailers and service is an integral part of building that loyalty. Every retailer knows that "if consumers are not satisfied, you are likely to lose them as a shopper in your store." Retailers place a strong emphasis on training their employees to work with customers and be as helpful as possible. Consumers have more options today, than any time in the past. Retailers have to compete everyday against those options. Their success as a business is dependent on how well they can satisfy their customers.

Tell us one thing most people don't know about you.

I am an Eagle Scout.

Lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

Patrick Donoho

Title: President, Maryland Retailers Association

Age: 61

Last two jobs: Government relations for the International Bottled Water Association and the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association

Education: B.A. from University of Minnesota

Residence: Annapolis

Family: Married to Candace Donoho with three grown children

Hobbies/interests: golfing, fishing, hunting, reading, cooking

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