How microservices are redefining e‑commerce in the enterprise

[Internet Retailer / December 6, 2018] When enterprise-sized online retailers say they are held back by technology, they are often referring to the architectural constraints of their site. It’s unfortunate that our digital commerce community finds it normal to say this—that it has become acceptable to be hindered by the capabilities of your technology.

The architectural evolution of digital commerce platforms has been unhurried since the emergence of the big players: Oracle, IBM, and Salesforce. You got what the platforms offered, or faced significant development to customize them to your business. Many require certified developers to manage them, forcing investment in maintenance often instead of innovation. When I was on the retailer side, our global team used familiar systems but often struggled to wow online customers due to the friction of a 10-year-old platform, on top of the slow-moving, limited innovations.

Many companies look to resolve this friction and lack of innovation by traditional platforms with a microservices platform. If a microservices approach to tech stacks sounds familiar, it isn’t new thanks to names like Amazon and Best Buy talking about it. But how a microservices-based architecture supports e-commerce businesses isn’t as widely known.

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Posted in Ecommerce, Microservices, Thought Leadership | Tagged ,

Experiential retail, pop-up shops, and catalogs are taking over the holiday season

The holiday season is the perfect opportunity to create memorable, inspiring shopping experiences online and in-store. The holidays bring an increase in store traffic, but consumers are still eager to shuffle through the doors and crowds of department stores and malls for a retail holiday experience.

A recent survey by Bazaarvoice reported that “42 percent of holiday shoppers said they brave the crowds and shop in-store because they enjoy the festive ambiance, and 32 percent consider special holiday activities, such as visiting Santa or ice skating, important to the in-store shopping experience.”

Let’s take a look at what some retailers are doing to engage with their customers during this holiday season.

Experiential retail brings more customers during the holidays

Rather than only selling products, Target is selling ideas and experiences to lure shoppers in for the holiday season. With the closing of Toys “R” Us stores, Target is taking over the toy department. The department store is planning 25,000 hours of holiday play time and events, including inviting children to test out and play with toys and meet and greet with characters from popular children’s television shows. They’ve reimagined toy departments in more than 100 remodeled stores with new toy experiences, new department layouts, oversized displays of popular brands and characters, and interactive play experiences.

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You’ve outgrown your commerce platform. Now what?

The fate of SaaS commerce solutions was never future-proof. On the bright side, modern and modular technologies have emerged to address the warning signs that you’ve outgrown your commerce solution. It’s possible. You can reach commerce bliss.

When you first invested in your SaaS commerce solution, it was a perfect choice for your business. It was cost-effective, easier to develop new features, required less staff to support, and promised a sea of easy features. But your business has grown, you’ve got more customers and more products, you have unique ideas and your silent ecommerce business partner is proving to be less silent than you would hope.

Let’s face it. Your commerce solution is holding you back from evolving your online experiences and operational systems. As a result, your sales are plateauing, customers are unengaged with your brand, performance is suffering, and you’ve run out of resources and budget. Your code development slows down and your developers are spending more time fixing the problems of your system than bringing your ideas to life.

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Posted in Ecommerce, Microservices | Tagged ,

Voice Commerce: Help or Hype?

It’s Wednesday night and you’re watching Stranger Things on Netflix after a long 12-hour day at the office. Eleven just stole a few boxes of Eggos from a liquor store and suddenly, you have a craving for waffles. A quick inspection of the freezer shows you have no waffles. You turn to your voice-activated device and say,

“Hey Google, can you place an order for a box of Eggos?”

Google: “Ok, here’s something from Smart and Final on Google Express. I’ve got a Chocolatey Chip Banana waffle, 10.5-ounce box for $2.50. Would you like me to add it to your cart?”

And just like that, you ordered Eggos!

Voice-activated devices are taking over the world…sort of

Voice might not be taking over the world entirely, but it is taking over households. Voice-activated devices, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home have become an essential piece of furniture in many homes. Aside from staying on top of your to-do list, voice-activated devices allow you to control the electronics in your home (TV, lights, locks, etc), act as a speaker to play music and even place orders for groceries.

One in six Americans owns a voice-activated device in their home, with Amazon Alexa leading the way, according to research.

Voice assistants are pushing to dominate the retail market. Interestingly, a survey by CapGemini (5,000 consumers in the U.S., France, and Germany) revealed that “40 percent of consumers plan to use voice assistants as a substitute for apps or mobile sites within the next three years.”

“Last year, voice commerce accounted for $2 billion in sales in the U.S. alone, and OC&C Strategy Consultants estimates that number will grow to $40 billion in the U.S. by 2022,” according to Forbes.

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Posted in Ecommerce | Tagged , , ,

Skava and BloomReach Form Partnership to Help Brands Delight Customers at Every Touchpoint

SAN FRANCISCOOct. 11, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Skava, a global provider of cloud microservices for ecommerce, has announced its strategic partnership with BloomReach, a Digital Experience Platform company for merchants worldwide. By teaming up, enterprise brands will benefit from a comprehensive, modern commerce platform that helps them create smart personalized experiences, scale better, and go to market faster.

“We are very excited about this partnership with BloomReach that will give brands more control over their customers’ digital experiences,” said Arish Ali, CEO at Skava. “We look forward to offering unique digital shopping experiences that combine BloomReach’s innovative open and intelligent Digital Experience Platform (DXP) and Skava’s modern ecommerce microservices.”

By bringing together Skava’s leadership in microservices for ecommerce with BloomReach’s state-of-the-art DXP for commerce, brands can explore new ways to create highly shoppable experiences for customers across all digital touchpoints.

“Building integrations between Skava Commerce and BloomReach allows brands to use both innovative technologies to delight consumers at every touchpoint,” said Dave Barrowman, Vice President and Head of Innovation at Skava.

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5 Things Skava is Doing at Shop.org

This year, Shop.org is held in the city that never sleeps, Las Vegas. Retailers, visionaries, innovators, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders all come together to be inspired and walk away with practical strategies that will benefit your business.

We’ll be at booth 1016, showcasing the latest updates and new features of the Skava Commerce platform. Skava is going beyond the booth this year with some great content happening throughout the conference. Here’s a sneak peek at the top 5 things we’re doing at Shop.org.

  1. Skava Commerce – Designed for Change to Transform Your Commerce Journey
    We promise our demos aren’t boring. Skava Commerce is taking a new, modern approach to digital commerce. We’re helping leading brands transform their digital commerce journey, wherever they are at. Learn why microservices are the future of digital commerce and why top online retailers are moving away from their monolithic solutions. 

    Why should I see a demo of Skava Commerce?Skava Commerce is a modern, mobile first, a cloud-hosted solution that employs loosely coupled architecture empowering brands to create outstanding and well differentiated digital experiences. We’ll show you how you can consume as much or as little of the platform as you want. Better yet, you don’t need to build the glue yourself between the services. Skava Commerce includes a modular React and Node.js based front end, which can be used with Skava or used as the front end of any other ecommerce platform.

    Because the platform is modular, you can gradually replace your legacy platform at your own pace, shifting functions into services over time, without the danger of a rip and replace project.

    Learn more about the Skava platform here or schedule a meeting with an ecommerce expert and get a Google Home Mini.

  2. Big Ideas Session:
    Skava’s Senior Director of Product Marketing, Jon Feldman is leading a talk to discuss why you need to break up with your commerce solution. As a former Restoration Hardware alumni, Jon will dive into the practical strategies and benefits of moving off of your legacy solution to a modern microservices platform. Don’t miss the exciting conversation on Thursday, September 13th at 11:30 am in the Expo Hall, Big Ideas Stage 3. Continue reading
Posted in Conferences, Ecommerce, Events | Tagged ,

Skava Appoints New CTO, Khurram Khan

Skava, the global e-commerce technology company owned by global consultancy Infosys, has promoted Khurram Khan to Chief Technology Officer. Previously, he was Skava’s VP of Product and Technology. Khurram will report to CEO Arish Ali.

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Khurram Khan, Chief Technology Officer, Skava

On promoting Khan, Ali noted: “Khurram has been a strategic leader and has played a key role in transforming Skava into a leader in e-commerce technology. He will focus on making sure we stay ahead of the curve with our microservices based technology and continue to serve innovative product offerings to enterprise brands and retailers. ”

Prior to joining Skava 5 years ago, Khan held various technology leadership roles at Macy’s. He’ll oversee all aspects of product and services delivery from Skava’s Manhattan office.

Khan adds, “My goal at Skava is to help us leapfrog the entrenched players in the space. We have a great team of very talented technologists that share that vision. I’m looking forward to working together with our clients and helping them accelerate their way to serving their customers with the most innovative and capturing experiences.”

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Why you never need to rip and replace your commerce platform ever again

Have years of customizations and integrations turned your once state-of-the-art commerce system into a tangled architecture of half-solutions, patches, and hacks? Have developers come and gone leaving documentation unreliably out of date? Is your team crippled by technical debt?

If you’re like many digital enterprises, your legacy commerce platform is so large, complex and tightly coupled that new feature delivery (and even routine maintenance) is painfully slow and introduces risk into your environment.

And you know ripping and replacing your current monolithic platform won’t solve your challenges. Replatforming projects are slow, costly and force you to redo many customizations and integrations. During implementation, you’re stuck maintaining two systems. If your new platform is a monolith, it’s only a matter of time until it’s bogged down with the same issues as your current system.

The good news is you never need to do a “Big Bang” replatforming project ever again.

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Posted in Ecommerce, Microservices, Webinar | Tagged ,

Why you need a digital commerce platform that evolves with your customers

Digital commerce is continuously evolving. Customer behaviors are changing, and new technologies are on the horizon. And businesses want to be disruptive along the way. Some brands are facing significant roadblocks to delivering better customer experiences that evolve with their customers.

So, what’s the problem? Your outdated commerce platform.

Legacy monolithic commerce platforms are holding you back from transforming your customer’s digital journey and owning your commerce ecosystem. You don’t have the freedom to experiment with new technologies and digital experiences without hurting the entire platform. One mistake can alter your systems and your teams will need to start over.

The modern solution to your infinite problems of broken systems, limited flexibility, and technical debt is a microservices digital commerce architecture. Microservices, as you might’ve heard, are standalone, independently deployable business applications. Each has a dedicated database, well-defined APIs, and an admin console that runs in its process. Microservices enable businesses to build, test, and deploy faster and are easier to develop and maintain as they’re broken into smaller, composable pieces that work well together.

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Microservices architecture: why the business should care

Skava Commerce is built from the ground up on a microservices architecture, with a rich set of APIs to provide access to the individual services. Sounds great. If you’re in the IT organization, the benefits are music to your ears: more scalable, more maintainable, and lower total cost of ownership.  But why should the business care?

In my time as a product manager and as a consultant to retailers, I’ve been involved in digital commerce for over two decades and have had the opportunity to see a wide variety of ecommerce platforms in action. Being in a role that sits between the development organization and the business, I’ve formed a perspective on what matters to both groups. When you are not on the IT side, it’s easy to get lost in discussions about architecture and database choices, SLAs and uptimes, and lose the plot on how software platform choices impact your ability to drive the business forward. But the capabilities (and sadly all too often, the limitations) of your platform define the digital playing field for your business and it is critical that you consider the implications of your technology choices.

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Posted in Ecommerce, Microservices, Thought Leadership | Tagged , , ,