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
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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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“Retailers need to be obsessed with closing customer experience gaps” Skava CEO, Arish Ali, Shares His Perspective On Retail

The Millennium Alliance sat down with Arish Ali, Co-founder and CEO of Skava to gain a first-hand look and perspective on the retail industry as it is today. Check out the interview. Thanks, Millennium Alliance! Skava will also attend the upcoming Digital Retail and Marketing Transformation Assemblies.

What do you believe are the new priorities of retailers in the “new generation of modern commerce?”

Retailers need to be obsessed with closing customer experience gaps. Consistent experiences in-store and online, omnichannel customer support, fast loading websites and apps, products in-stock and fast and free shipping are what customers care about. These “new” priorities are of course old priorities — but many retailers still struggle to satisfy the basics.

Retailers also need to be obsessed with new customer acquisition. Customer loyalty in a world with instant access to unlimited choice and heavy competition won’t keep a retailer alive without a steady stream of new customers at all times. Continual testing and optimization of customer acquisition tactics, from SEO and paid search to co-marketing, social and influencer marketing, affiliate and content marketing is vital and must be carefully balanced against discount strategies.

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Posted in Ecommerce, Events, Thought Leadership

The World’s Smallest Discount

I was shopping at a pharmacy in Toronto recently when I came across the discount tag depicted at below. (Take a moment to study the picture closely if you don’t see the issue). I’ll start with the most likely scenario: an antiquated system without safeguards created a $0 discount as a side-effect of a large pricing change.

The World's Smallest Discount

The discount price tag at a pharmacy in Toronto

Not knowing the internal systems of this particular retailer, I can only guess what happened, but it seems likely that their pricing systems include fields for a regular price and a markdown price (or perhaps multiple markdowns and promotional prices, each with effective dates). The system might print bright yellow discount tags whenever there is an entry in the markdown field. It might also require the business user to select an option to do so, but in any case, this item met the criteria in their system to trigger the label to be printed. A simple safeguard would be to ensure that the markdown price is less than the regular price. It might make even more sense to have a threshold: for example, only print a discount tag if the markdown price is at least 5% less than the regular price.

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Time to Look Beyond Conversion

Conversion – orders divided by visits – is one of the most common metrics in retail. Easy to calculate and simple to understand, it’s a measure of “efficiency,” like batting average in baseball, that tells a retailer how well their stores are, well, converting traffic into sales. And like batting average, while it is a decent indicator of one aspect of performance, it has several shortcomings. It should remain a key component of any retail dashboard, but modern retailers need to look beyond conversion to better understand and optimize their businesses.

The old standby

Conversion has been tracked by retailers since long before ecommerce rose to prominence. As a metric for traditional brick and mortar retail, it had the appeal of being easy to calculate: just count the number of people who came into the store and the number of sales made in a given time period and compute the ratio.  Advanced analytics this was not. Conversion doesn’t require that you know who your visitors and purchasers are, what they bought, or why. But it does provide a good yardstick against which individual stores can compare their performance and the impact of various business decisions over time.  And given its success as a key metric in brick and mortar retail, it’s not surprising that it became one of the go-to metrics in digital commerce.

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