[PYMNTS] Bricks And Mortar, With A Dash Of Service For Customer Stickiness

[PYMNTS – Data Drivers] Can bricks-and-mortar survive the eCommerce onslaught?

In an interview with PYMNTs’ Karen Webster, Dave Barrowman, who serves as Vice President of Innovation at Skava, said that in the physical retail space, the death of physical retail remains greatly exaggerated. With some ingenuity and attention to the value proposition of the tangible retail experience, he told Webster, players big and small can do more than survive — they can thrive.

Data Point One: 5,321. This is the estimate, according to an analyst at Retail and Technology, of the number of stores that have closed so far in 2017. Said Barrowman, “It is tough out there. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, a lot of retailers over-expanded and there is rationalization going on” as customers have left the mall environment and shopping has shifted online.

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Posted in Ecommerce, In-Store Technology | Tagged , ,

[PYMNTS] Skava and the Power of Consumer Intent

[PYMNTS.com] That retail is changing rapidly — and that many of its oldest and most established players are struggling to keep pace — is not much of a surprise these days.

“Everyone knows retailers are in trouble — at this point, the whole market knows it. And retailers also know they have a problem,” said Arish Ali, CEO of Skava.

Retailers, he said, have some clarity about where the solutions might lie. Brick-and-mortar sales — still the lion’s share of revenue for the majority of retailers — are declining and stores are being closed, which further exacerbates the problem. On the other hand, digital commerce in its many omnichannel forms is soaring, but oftentimes not enough to compensate. Those who do well have found ways to successfully fold in the in-store experience into the greater omnichannel journey.

“So there is growth, and there are a variety of platforms powering that growth directly or indirectly. The retailers who play their cards right really can capture that opportunity,” Ali said.

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Posted in Ecommerce

5 Technologies Changing the Retail Landscape

[Business.com – Joanna Furlong] Mixed reality, Internet of Things and advanced analytics are shaking up the retail industry. Is your business ready?

Retailers today face a market drastically different than the one they navigated 10 years ago. Millennial shoppers are a core demographic, shoppers browse aisles – and their phones. And customers expect more personalized communication and service.

While cynics may fear the future of retail, industry insiders know the key to maintaining a competitive edge is technology. It’s the catalyst for getting consumers into stores, the brains behind every interaction, and it shapes every angle of the customer experience.

Front and center in all of this: the chief information officer, or CIO. A recent Forrester report on the state of the customer experience notes that, “There has not been a time when technology has had a more profound impact on customer experience and revenue performance. By the sheer force of nature, this places CIOs and technology front and center.”

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Posted in Ecommerce

Skava On Meeting Payments Innovation Challenges

Vivek Agrawal, executive vice president of technology solutions provider Skava, joined PYMNTS for the latest segment of the Commander in Chief series to speak to why innovation isn’t just about creating new, exciting products. Here’s why Agrawal says the real focal point of innovation is to address (and solve) real and present challenges across industries.

An excerpt from that discussion is provided below…

PYMNTS: How would you define your company’s approach to innovation?

VA: Our innovation goals are very well bound by our vision and strategy. We have a budget set aside for innovation that is meant to be largely spent on trends we believe are ready for adoption by industry at large. That said, there is always a small number of activities that are centered around the new shiny thing (like Google glass and smartwatches a couple of years ago) so we can have a POV. The idea is to solve real enterprise-grade challenges using our technology.

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Posted in Ecommerce, Thought Leadership | Tagged ,

Join us at the Skava Summit for a Day of Innovation and Inspiration

We already know how quickly e-commerce is changing. We understand that brands must compete with each other to deliver the best, unique customer experience to their sophisticated consumer across all channels, including in-store.

So, what does the future of e-commerce hold?

We’ll answer that question and more at the Skava Summit, a single-day technology and networking event on May 23rd. Hosted at the Marriott Marquis in San Francisco, retail and technology experts will come together to share their vision for the future of commerce, what does the customer digital journey mean, and where Skava is headed.

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Posted in Events

4 Tips for Enhancing E-commerce Platforms

 Arish Ali, Co-founder and President at Skava, an Infosys company, shares tips on how to build a modern ecommerce platform. He also describes that while retailers prepare year-round for the holiday season, many still lack the modern technology to meet spikes in demand

[MarTech Advisor ] The U.S. e-commerce market is on pace for another record-setting holiday season. Research firm eMarketer predicts digital purchases during November and December will increase 17.2 percent to $94.71 billion, accounting for 10.7 percent of all sales. For purchases both online and off, the National Retail Federation forecasts sales rising 3.6 percent to $655.8 billion over the same time span.

This growth in digital commerce means retailers need to improve, refine and future-proof their digital infrastructure. Robust mobile applications, simple search tools and a wealth of purchase and delivery options mark the continued turn toward consumer-friendly technologies that can result in increased sales.

Retailers looking to shift their e-commerce platform to be more modern should focus their initiative in these four areas:

Mobile-first approach

Mobile is the most prominent e-commerce channel, accounting for 45.1 percent of digital purchases during the first quarter of 2016, according to Bloomberg. It’s the first time mobile has beaten desktop (45 percent) in the digital shopping arena. In another first, mobile purchases during Black Friday surpassed $1 billion.

But the battle between mobile and desktop sales is a false dichotomy. In fact, roughly 40 percent of transactions occurred across multiple devices or channels during last Q4, according to a study by marketing firm Criteo. This suggests consumers are more willing to look for the best deal for them, regardless of whether it takes place on the phone, in the store or at home. With mobile, shoppers can afford to research and wait.

A mobile-first platform can help retailers adapt to the consumer decision-making process.

Future-ready architecture

Natural language processing applications, the Internet of Things, social commerce tools, augmented reality are just some of the new technologies that are about to affect e-Commerce. To accommodate these developments, retailers will need to plan for a massive overhaul to their backend IT. Flexibility is key. To achieve it, retailers should morph their often monolithic deployments into more modular systems by adopting loosely coupled architecture, based on microservices. This would result in more fluid and nimble platforms that are also more cost-effective.

This modular, as-a-service approach helps organizations build competency in specialized areas. It also helps free up internal resources to better focus on value-generating activities, such as customer-centric services and offerings.

Conversational commerce

One of the biggest innovations in consumer technology is the trend toward offering consumers services and information in a conversational manner. Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana and Alexa are a few big brand-name examples.

It is an exceptionally fast-growing trend. According to a recent Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers report, mobile voice assistants have grown in use from 30 percent of smartphone users in 2013 to 65 percent in 2015. Google, too, reports an increase in voice searching, with 20 percent of all mobile search being voice-based.

This doesn’t mean any company needs to go out and build their own Siri, but it does mean they will need to tap into conversational-centric efforts. Chatbots, like those found on Facebook’s Messenger Platform for example, can provide retailers with simple way of providing a conversational presence for consumers. These applications can provide shoppers with discoveries, answer simple questions and generally help during the shopping process.

However, a conversational commerce initiative requires some heavy lifting. Any execution will need to coordinate with existing physical and digital channels and closely emulate what’s available on current email and text messaging offerings. The company’s tone, too, will need to be captured and taught to any artificial intelligence or chatbot operating on the company’s behalf. Finally, conversational commerce requires maintenance and updates, meaning any organization investing in this solution will also need to invest in a competent development team.

Open your platform

Digital services today are built on modular sets of code called application program interfaces, or APIs. APIs serve a critical role: they allow internal and third-party developers to integrate new software and new technologies into the e-commerce platform for better and easier browsing, access and transactions.

Organizations investing in e-commerce platforms ought to ensure they are build a strong set of APIs to get the most out of their digital transformation.

Throughout this journey, many organizations will need to remember that e-commerce today requires patience. It’s a gradual shift towards competency, not an overnight transformation. New developments in consumer interactions are always on the horizon. New architectures are always being built. A successful digital transformation is about implementing new techniques and nurturing the mentality of constantly looking forward to the next consumer-centric capability. For retailers, that means building out mobile, building out a flexible architecture and striking a conversational tone to capture consumers.

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

Millennials Are Reshaping the Shopping Experience, Are You Keeping Up?

Millennials are shaping the customer shopping experience with both trendsetting and extraordinary spending power. Exposure to technology has defined their different tastes and habits, which tend to change regularly. Millennials might be more connected than other shoppers, but they do not embrace a linear way of shopping; they embrace omnichannel digital experiences and are constantly on the lookout for more innovative and engaging ways to shop.

Classified as individuals 18-34 years old, Millennials actually care more about the experiences than owning things, and that poses the biggest challenge for retailers. According to Business Intelligence, Millennials are obsessed with the style of life than the stuff of life.

On the other hand, when it comes to retail, they have a very specific way of shopping and tend to become impulse buyers. More than 80% of Millennials in the U.S. have made an impulse purchase in 2014 and continue to do so today. However, Millennials are also more likely to regret their impulse purchases. Millennials make impulse purchases as soon as they get paid, when they are attracted to a promotion, or when they’re in need of retail therapy. Impulse purchases are higher among women than men. “Nearly seven in 10 women made impulse purchases after seeing price promotions while six in 10 male shoppers were tempted by the same offers,” according to eMarketer. Unfortunately, after making the impulse purchase, Millennials express dissatisfaction due to either the quality of product, or the overall cost of their purchase.

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Posted in Ecommerce, Mobile