“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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How cryptocurrency and blockchain are affecting ecommerce

With the 10-year anniversary of Satoshi Nakamoto’s famous white paper Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System approaching in November, it’s safe to say that Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and blockchain have entered popular lexicon. Most businesses tuning into the crypto airwaves are figuring out how to leverage cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. The first in a series, this post will explore how cryptocurrency and blockchain are affecting payments in ecommerce. 

The easiest start: how cryptocurrency payment works within existing payment strategy

As the best-known entry point, many businesses begin leveraging blockchain by understanding how Bitcoin fits into their current business model and if it’s the right time. Businesses may merely accept payments from consumers in-store and online. Although the list of ecommerce businesses integrating into Bitcoin, Ethher or various other cryptocurrency payments is still relatively small, some brands, such as Overstock.com have been providing crypto payment options for several years.

A practical application requires businesses to consider some of the fundamental concepts when governing cryptocurrencies. It’s important to address the security requirements that wallets or exchanges impose that are different from existing business practices, such as direct deposits, wire transfers or ACH transactions.

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Going Phygital: Bringing the Digital Experience In-Store

Though ecommerce sales make up just 10% of total US retail sales, digital influences half.

To keep pace with customer expectations and close experience gaps across touchpoints, retailers are making serious investments to extend digital commerce beyond their .com storefronts into physical stores. Forty-five percent of digital retail executives are expanding, upgrading or investing in technologies to deliver digital content, offers and customer service features to their physical shops, support store associates with a digital tech and enhance the buying experience.  

5 Key Focus Areas of In-store Digital Investment

Enhanced mobile Over 80% of shoppers consult their mobile phones for product information in-store. Both native apps and HTML5 mobile websites can be augmented with voice search, image recognition, QR-code scanning and NFC (near-field communication), as well as “store mode” features like wayfinding (in-store navigation) and location-based content and offers.

Universal accounts True omnichannel retail connects all customer touchpoints, including online account activity with retail POS systems and other in-store digital touchpoints. Purchase history, loyalty status, reward point balances and personalized content should be seamlessly accessed in-store and updated to a universal account in real time.

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[Press Release] Skava Received Highest Product Score in Modular, Flexible Implementations Use Case in Gartner’s Critical Capabilities for Digital Commerce

SAN FRANCISCOJune 20, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Skava, a global provider of cloud microservices for ecommerce, announced today that Gartner gave the company the highest placement in the Modular, Flexible Implementations Use Case within its 2018 “Critical Capabilities for Digital Commerce”*. This positioning comes just one day after Skava placed on the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce.

The Gartner document notes, “Application leaders must look for flexibility, modularity and agility as critical capabilities for leading digital commerce platforms.” With regard to Modularity and API-based solutions, “There is increased interest from prospective clients and noticeable shifts from commerce platform vendors on API-based commerce platforms, reflecting the relevance of flexibility and modularity in commerce solutions.”

Skava offers modular e-commerce and digital platforms to mid and enterprise-sized companies including Kraft Heinz, Barnes & Noble, Urban Outfitters, and others. Built with cloud microservices, Skava Commerce enables businesses to easily and quickly deploy the components they need, reach out to more customers consistently across multiple channels, and deliver personalized digital commerce experiences.

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Why Microservices for Digital Commerce are Gaining Analyst Recognition

Implementing Microservices as an alternative to a heavy, monolithic architecture is an exciting IT trend that’s gaining momentum amongst Digital Commerce customers and vendors worldwide. At the Adobe Summit in March, Adobe’s Senior Product Manager Martin Buergi shared that 36% of Adobe Marketing Cloud customers surveyed have at least “several [microservices] projects live,” and 64% are getting started, or have microservices on their roadmaps. (Yes, that means no respondents had no interest in microservices!)

Microservices are also catching the attention of leading analyst firms, including Gartner. The Gartner Magic Quadrant is an annual report that thoroughly evaluates leading technology vendors within a given space. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant reports have earned the respect and trust of business and IT leaders for their rigorous selection process, inclusion and exclusion criteria, and evaluation based on the context of current technology trends and forecasts.

We believe the 2018 Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce recognizes the market’s demand for a modern API-oriented, modular and flexible solutions from enterprise-grade digital commerce leaders.

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[Press Release] Skava Recognized in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce and Critical Capabilities for Digital Commerce

SAN FRANCISCOJune 8, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Skava, a global provider of cloud microservices for ecommerce, announced today that it has been included in the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce.

Skava offers e-commerce and digital platforms to mid and enterprise-sized companies with unparalleled flexibility. Built in the cloud and mobile-friendly, Skava’s platform, Skava Commerce, enables businesses to quickly create a unique voice and serve their customers fresh and seamless experiences through:

  • Modular and Flexible – Organizations can nimbly pick and choose only the components they need through independently scalable and deployable microservices
  • A rich, ready-to-deploy reference webstore – Configurable white label reference store augmented by an experience management solution to provide a seamless and consistent experience across all digital touchpoints
  • Mobile First – Skava leverages an established leadership in mobile commerce to offer a robust and modular solution that folds in mobile as well as other devices seamlessly into a cohesive branded experience

“By 2022, 10% of the organizations running digital commerce will build that into a platform business to transform into digital businesses, and 60% of those will use an open ecosystem to scale the growth,” Gartner stated.

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Voice Commerce and Microservices at IRCE

Ecommerce Challenges IRCE

The Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE) is arguably one of the largest and influential ecommerce conferences in the industry. The conference will take place next week in Chicago and we’ll be there.

Digital Commerce 360 says it’s “a conference like no other” and includes breakout sessions, networking events, and of course, swag and vendor parties. Conferences, similar to IRCE, provide immense opportunity to learn from your peers and ecommerce experts, how commerce and technology are evolving, and the consumer trends that you need to keep up with.

Skava is excited to be attending IRCE this year to showcase the latest 7.5 version of the Skava Commerce platform and how we’ve integrated voice to our microservice.

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Tips for smooth design handoff to development teams

Product design has many phases ranging in scope and complexity across the spectrum, but even the minor phases are essential to the overall success of the project. In this post, I’m focusing on one of these smaller phases: Design Handoff, and specifically, the Remote Handoff. This is when UX and visual design are finished and the creative assets are transferred to the implementation team in a different time zone — a scenario becoming more and more common as resources are becoming more distributed.

Design Handoff seems like such an insignificant part of the larger picture. However, a bad handoff can have cascading problems affecting multiple teams and timelines, and could ultimately jeopardize your project.

You’ve probably heard some variation of the phrase, “Just throw it over the fence.” This is something that happens when teams decide to handoff hastily. They bundle up assets and send links to the dev team hoping for the best. Of course, “the best” is rarely the result, and this is not the developer’s fault.

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