PROFILE

Alex Senn

Founder and CEO at Orkiv.com
Alex Senn is a retail technologist, Founder, and CEO at Orkiv.com. He helps retailers and eCommerce operators improve the customer experience through any channel with logic and AI. Dealing with and understanding the commerce environment from a technical perspective has helped to deliver results to over 100 retailers of various sizes. Alex looks forward to delivering amazing technologies to serve new customer demands.

For more information, visit: www.orkiv.com
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  • Posted on: 06/20/2017

    Will the Bonobos acquisition give Walmart a fashion edge?

    Yes, this acquisition has a few points about it which don't exactly line up. Who knows how it will actually end up, but if Walmart looks to include Bonobos shops within a classic Walmart, I'm not so sure this will cut it with consumer expectations at both companies, nor does the Bonobos model support this. However, if Walmart were smart they could combine their new successful digital native brands into a new store format all it's own already popular with younger, more affluent shoppers.The problem is Walmart has so much brand equity wrapped around low prices, which inherently means low quality to any educated Bonobos-esque customer. Now if Walmart integrates the two companies, this would open up a large data set to Walmart of upper-middle class Millennials. Walmart could use this to personalize the product set shown to these customers. Essentially this would come down to understanding the higher income level needs of this type of consumer and make them understand that Walmart has a high value, high-quality line as well, which they should consider in their purchase decision.It's a tough sell, nonetheless it will be interesting to watch play out.
  • Posted on: 06/16/2017

    What happens now that Amazon is acquiring Whole Foods?

    While with this acquisition it is tempting to look at the distribution, it yet again will come down to data and demographic. Whole Foods has an audience of people in the high end of the spectrum. Because of the price point at a Whole Foods, people buying there typically have a higher income/net worth. This being said, the grocery category is heated and huge. Capturing the high-end customer base which is Whole Foods presents many more opportunities to "get into" these consumers homes. Soon each Whole Foods will deliver straight to your house and oh, by the way, all that other stuff you need, just add it to your Amazon cart and it'll be there about the same time.This presents an offensive move to get into a segment of high-value buyers more directly. Given the information Whole Foods must have on their customer base, it's clear to see that Amazon will use this data with their AI algorithms. They will correlate all the purchases within your regular Amazon account, the foods you eat through Whole Foods, your location and will begin to understand your needs on a regular basis to the point where your cart will fill itself and you tell Alexa to buy all suggested items. Beyond this, I would suspect this might be a long-term testing ground for an automated store that recognizes each product taken.
  • Posted on: 06/15/2017

    Will new payment options make Amazon Prime memberships even more popular?

    It seems like a good move, but in application I'm not so sure it will move the needle. First off, are these people going online? Are these people able to spend enough with Amazon to make them worth it? I'm sure Amazon has worked out the numbers to know that it will. The under-banked and un-banked population is a larger market than probably most retailers understand, meaning Amazon has tapped into a place where yet again they will soon dominate. It is unfortunate that there was nothing presented to connect these populations of people even earlier.
  • Posted on: 06/15/2017

    Are consumers ready to use automated purchasing tech on a wide scale?

    There's a good point being raised about the cost of shipping these small items. Certainly automated buying is not going anywhere and is only going to expand faster. It then becomes a challenge of having the most convenient spot for consumers to even realize they can have their CPG product shipped each month. This, I feel, is where they are lacking. Put a notice on the packaging, put a notice on the shelf at the retailer, especially put a notice on your website and even send out calendar invites. Whatever it takes, it seems that having the customer repeating purchases is crucial here.About the queuing of products, I actually think this comes does to an even more connected home/car/life. What I mean is that by having these products aware themselves of their low quantity, they can coordinate with other products which can automatically coordinate ordering so multiple items come together. Are we there yet? No. Will we get there? Yes.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2017

    Has Fabletics bridged the digital/physical divide with its omnicart tech?

    I think the movement as a whole is a good thing. The execution and still difficult process for customers and employees alike is not something that can actually scale. Fabletics needs to take a smarter approach. Using sensors to detect where a customer is, what they pulled off the shelf and what they tried on then adding it to their online shopping cart is the way to go. This is all possible, and it will encourage shoppers to get on the retailer's app, which presents a strong opportunity for loyalty. People like experiences, especially technology-enabled experiences that wow in a subtle way, this does not appear to be it.Back to the drawing board to utilize technology more here for seamless experiences rather than fragmented experiences that take time from both parties.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2017

    Is it time for stores to ditch the free Wi-Fi?

    Not sure that retail 100 percent needs the free Wi-Fi, though I will say I have used it on numerous occasions when the signal is weak or I can get a benefit by using it. Certainly retailers enjoy emails coming through their Wi-Fi opt-in page but I agree with Mark that if the usage supports Wi-Fi chances are it makes sense. If you haven't had Wi-Fi before it might not be that important to justify the costs.One thing I will say is, don't just rely on Wi-Fi. If you are going so far as to offer free Wi-Fi, use beacons, understand geo-location, understand what the Wi-Fi can do on the phone, etc. Wi-Fi alone may not be the magic touch, but perhaps that beacon using Wi-Fi can eek out another sale since that customer sees a new relevant offer as they walk around.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2017

    Has Rainbow Shops created a compensation model aligned with omnichannel realities?

    I would even go further with this initiative to turn employees into marketers with their own referral link/code. If the employee shares their link and someone buys it, they receive some sort of compensation on behalf of the company. This now makes it entirely a team effort to bring in more sales. Try offering $5 per new customer for each employee. While this may be costly initially, it's more than likely that $5 will come around with a multiplier effect in the number of sales coming through the doors.From the first efforts here documented, it seems like a wonderful way to counterbalance the effect of negative sales on the retail store. There must be a way to go beyond, though, which is why I feel giving a referral incentive to each employee would go hand-in-hand here. I do agree that there might need to be some refining for sales that go outside the retail store's territory, but good on Rainbow for taking care of the employees.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2017

    Does store operations have a seat at the digital transformation table?

    Well, sadly I'm going to provide a grim view of operations' involvement in the physical store. The reality is that the store operations are (as they should be) being replaced by technology. Yes of course stores still need their people, but we are at an intersection now where the technology is eclipsing the pace of retail stores so quickly that there is no possible way to keep up. That being said, the store's transition, while it should take the operations into account, really needs to be centered around how customers are using technology, how they prefer it to play into their shopping experience and finally having a super subtle integration directly with the store.The execution of this does come in large part from the data obtained by talking and listening to customers first, developing and MVP and testing this to then reiterate and re-release. It is now the operating system for a store we must be concerned with and, unfortunately, people are becoming less a part of that. If you want proof look at Amazon Go stores, no people -- just pick and walk.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2017

    Is UNTUCKit the next big thing in apparel retailing?

    It appears that UNTUCKit is not really doing much that is new, other than that their branding is quite good, they started online so they have data and their shirts are of a good quality. Other than that I feel the model in play here will ideally be something like Farfetch's "store of the future" combined with Bonobos' appointment-only showrooms. While I have yet to be in the store, this new wave of pure-play e-tailers needs to step up and have technology completely on their side. This is certainly a Millennial wave company and any Millennial not only expects a great in-store experience but an equally convenient online and mobile presence that can play into the store experience. This experience is something the company will need to tie all together in order to compete with Millennial-aged e-tailers. It will be interesting to watch how they spend that $30 million.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2017

    Will virtual reality become the ultimate retail training tool?

    Perhaps VR has a place in training for retail, but it is not the training of interacting with customers -- it should only be the training of processes, which do not require personal interactions with customers.That being said, I think VR has much wider-spread possibilities for retailers on the consumer end. Imagine as a customer you can enter the Nike store, shop around, pick up items, place them in a cart, and checkout, all without leaving the couch? That's an experience every retailer will want to deliver if they are to compete in an entirely new realm of retail.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2017

    Are retailers selling their souls and giving away customers to Amazon?

    This is certainly a dilemma for retailers, but what I do not see anyone talking about is using the Alexa platform as an advantage for their own brand. Not only can a retailer earn the revenue on the product through their stores, but theoretically they can create their own Alexa apps to actually bring in more customers from it. Why not teach Alexa a skill which searches and displays or announces your store locations, or easier ways to buy, or even buying from you (probably not possible in the Amazon-owned ecosystem)?In any case, I would advise retailers to look into stealing some market share from Amazon by creating their own similar product, Alexa skills, or other methods. It is surprising as well that more retailers have not come together to build a marketplace connecting them all together to provide a fighting chance against Amazon, yet they have not. If there is anyone that wants to, I'm happy to lead the tech end of that endeavor. ;-)
  • Posted on: 12/08/2016

    Will the tech behind Amazon Go redefine convenience at retail?

    I find it interesting that we must hear about this concept from Amazon themselves. Really, there have been 0 other retailers to imagine this concept, test it and deliver press on it? To me, this is one of the newest initiatives for our own Epic Commerce platform. With the advent of RFID and geolocation consumers will come to expect product to be shopped, added to a physical cart, as well as their digital cart, and finally where consumers simply walk out with their products, and get charged directly for them upon leaving the store. RFID labels and smart sensors are becoming competitive on cost, and the efficiency/accuracy could be higher than with store clerks who cost a fortune. This will not happen with most retailers because they view this as showrooming, though this is the anti-showrooming equivalent. I'm guessing in 5 years this will easily be the preferred method to shop with stores acting as a self-serve market of products.It's sickening that Amazon gets the credit for inventing this. What are all the other retailers doing?
  • Posted on: 12/08/2016

    Zara succeeds with speed

    Yes speed certainly is a factor in both supply chain and innovation and design. However, I would argue the speed counts more toward the front end of the supply chain. So, it's how fast they can effectively market and sell a new fashion idea to the market they serve while being able to fulfill the needs for this product once it does catch on.Smart systems which automatically decide based on consumer demand which products should be ordered are the way to go. Zara may have a streamlined supply chain, but without demand, you don't need to worry about supply. As Mark Cuban said "sales cures all." The ability to test new designs and quickly decide whether they will work or not, and quickly being able to kill or keep a particular design is what sets brand-name retailers apart. Much of this comes through technology that crunches the data to decide which products go to manufacturing and which stay a limited test of an idea.
  • Posted on: 08/24/2016

    Amazon tests one-click product placement

    This concept can be related to the success of Houzz, which shows beautiful rooms to people on the app, which people can then click. Maybe not the same concept exactly, but I think it has a future. Others have said this concept is not new and has failed miserably, which I agree with, but there is a caveat. Not only just having the Amazon brand, but a new wave of consumer based culture will eat this stuff up (literally). This concept plays on the consumer's impulse to get something they like, which makes the purchase more emotional, and easier to lead to a sale. The real-time aspect of this (of which I have never personally come across another example) is the greatest asset. People forget quickly about brand mentions, and only until they figure out they need it, do they buy it, and you may not be the brand at the top of mind awareness when this decision is made.This could work its way into a whole lot more applications than simply cooking shows. Think snapchat instant buy button on ads played throughout your story, or Netflix offering a reduced subscription fee for placing real-time ads for the brands/products being mentioned in the show, with a buy button within the app.The possibilities are there, I think it comes down to proper distribution that won't affect customers experience.
  • Posted on: 08/15/2016

    Is brick & mortar ready to leverage in-store shopper data?

    The simple answer is no. In-store cannot advance as fast as online unless the infrastructure is in place to do so. However, in order to do this properly right now requires a large amount of expense. In order to pull this off efficiently, the systems between consumers and retailers need to be more frictionless. In this case, customers would simply be buying from the store, using it as a giant warehouse, with the store navigating customers as if they were pickers in a warehouse, to their desired product. All the while the store recognized previous purchase history and browser cookies gathered about this customer to show relevant and timely in-store offers as they are navigating to their desired purchase. This all begins, however, along the online journey of the customer when they are in the pre-purchase decision-making mode. In this case, data is only used by algorithms to sort and deliver more relevant/timely offers for customers so they buy more at the point of purchase, as well as in the future.

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