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: 10/09/2017

    What does all the noise around Amazon’s ‘Seller Flex’ program mean?

    I would say this is another aggressive move by Amazon to leverage its own infrastructure to make more money from the masses. In this case, Amazon will buy its own vehicles, hire its own drivers (until their AI self-driving truck comes out) and connect buyers and sellers on the Amazon platform to deliver the goods.This would make me nervous if I was UPS, USPS or FedEx. Amazon already makes up a large fleet in most major cities; why not extend the use of this fleet and make more money from it, while also making it easier to handle the Whole Foods distribution chain?Definitely another measure by Amazon to become fully integrated into the supply chain, keeping costs lower and keeping its infrastructure growth at full tilt.
  • Posted on: 09/25/2017

    Target guides customers through the aisles with beacons

    I think this is a great move, one they should have more seriously considered years ago, but it's a good move nonetheless. They need to be utilizing anything they can to detect user behavior and track user data. In the retail world, especially in an Amazon-dominated one, if the retailer can pick up more swiftly on what a customer wants, what sales they take action on and how they shop between online/offline, this is an advantage in the various methods a retailer could use to target and deliver relevant products to this same customer. Doing this just might be able to keep this customer coming back for more.
  • Posted on: 08/29/2017

    Is thrifting going mainstream?

    The thrift segment has been experiencing a boom as both Baby Boomers and Millennials embrace the concept of pre-owned. There are two big causes: the popularity of vintage clothing on sites like Nasty Gal and even Etsy as well as mainstream acceptance ("Thrift Shop" by Macklemore) of the thrift store in general, considering the popularity of the entire sharing economy.I believe we will see more and more thrift stores popping up, as with Dollar Stores, and they could even be the replacements for larger stores that have been shuttered within the malls. If some of the biggest brands were able to operate thrift stores within their stores, it may attract the right audience to give an advantage.However attractive the challenges are still there, especially with respect to the supply chain as the connections and gathering efforts can be significant, different than what many large chain stores are set up to handle.
  • Posted on: 08/28/2017

    Are off-pricers discounting their online opportunity?

    Though the classic business model for of-price giants is not exactly an "online-ready" concept, I do believe strongly they are missing an interesting channel by not going online.In order to understand this problem fully, it's important to point out off-price retailers do not usually go online as their inventory changes too rapidly to put the products online. Or, their inventory comes in lots of items which is hard to split up.That being said the challenges are there to get every piece up online, but it's unlikely the off-price retailers would need to do this. If they are serious about online, they must utilize creative social (from customers in the store), mobile, via creative apps and rewards, and buzz generating products for sale online. Of course, this could extend, but I think it's time they get the ball rolling.
  • Posted on: 08/21/2017

    Should all retailers offer subscription services?

    It's unclear why stores have not introduced more subscriptions. After all, the store is simply an open warehouse if used correctly. Why would stores not embrace the idea behind subscriptions realizing this gains them loyalty, more stable income and an amazing opportunity to keep product moving without the added cost of acquiring a customer over and over?Subscriptions have been a hot topic for a while now, it's about time retailers catch up.
  • Posted on: 08/07/2017

    Is agile fulfillment the solution to retail’s renaissance?

    Agile store ops are a necessary strategy within the retailer's roadmap. More and more the stores need to consider how to use their stores as miniature, real-time fulfillment centers, enabling smarter use of the space. Consumers want quick and efficient shopping experiences. Understanding this and integrating frictionless checkout experiences not only helps the consumer but the retailers.This also creates valuable data which allows retailers to automatically improve their ability to target customers and increase purchase frequency.
  • Posted on: 08/01/2017

    Are private equity firms the true retail chain killers?

    I do agree that private equity greed could have caused a large portion of Chapter 11 protections. Certainly this is a factor, but more important is the fact that as soon as a struggling retailer goes under different ownership, immediately the incentives and priorities shift away from the business and into the pockets of the greedy private equity partners.Look at most retailers that are founder-run. They are not (usually) the ones struggling, and this is because they care about making the business and improving on the business model and the technology they use in making this happen.I think private equity can be a good thing, but it needs to come with the right incentives, and most often they need to keep the founder (if possible) on as the CEO or in another influential role.
  • Posted on: 08/01/2017

    How disruptive is Alexa to CPG brands?

    If a CPG brand isn't considering an Alexa skill or being a part of the Dash buttons we saw rolled out prior to this, they are dying slowly and painfully. The idea that a CPG brand can survive in the long term without fully investing in getting to the top of the ordering list on Alexa, chatbots, Google shopping and more is absurd.I think more and more Amazon may start a pay-to-play effort to determine who Alexa gives the sale to. Right now it is a pure price/time-conscience method of delivery but soon there will be other methods such as bidding to get the default order of an Alexa unit. Along these lines, you may have more and more AI which determines your default preferences and suggestions. You could see down the road Amazon introducing preferences within a consumer account. Their preferred defaults for things like toilet paper, razors, paper towels, etc. This again may cause a bidding war for what becomes suggested at the top of the A.I. algorithm controlling it.Time to step up and get straight to consumers through whatever means possible.
  • Posted on: 08/01/2017

    Has Amazon created another high-draw shopping model with its Treasure Trucks?

    The treasure truck is simply a method of getting more user adoption. It's a way to keep you on Amazon.com or its app. This is also one of the tricks of Amazon's marketing efforts which seemingly are meant to garner headlines in as many unique ways as possible and, of course, it works. The Treasure Truck, if anything, is probably another non-profitable venture, but one that extends Amazon's reach and appeal just because it's something new that other retailers aren't doing. I wouldn't expect to see Target or Walmart rolling out treasure trucks anytime soon.
  • Posted on: 08/01/2017

    Is ‘free’ a big enough incentive to get consumers to try click and collect?

    While BOPIS gets more and more penetration into retailers, it's important not to start discounting for this effort to early as it will cause a "J.C. Penney effect" which means discounting too much to the point where consumers will only buy something from you at some sort of discounted price. This does not go over well in the long term. On the other hand, offering a reward for referring someone who tries BOPIS, or offering an incentive on every fifth BOPIS, does make a lot of sense. Perhaps the FIRST time using BOPIS it might be worthwhile to include some sort of discount, just to get the customer using it, but in most cases the more you discount, the harder it will be to keep replicating success with this customer once they come to expect a discount.The key with this effort is to keep the customer coming back to use BOPIS. Anything that does not enhance this effort on its own is a waste of time. Referrals or coffee club-type rewards are the only probable way to make this work. I think the curbside incentives are not worth it given the extra time and care this effort takes on a wide scale implementation. One- or two-hour pickup is a good incentive, but this becomes standard at some point and will not be the draw retailers need.
  • Posted on: 07/25/2017

    How will smaller rivals survive in an Amazon and Walmart world?

    It's insane to think that almost all major retail innovations that are being implemented come from Amazon. This is simply a lack of caring about what's in it for the customer. What will make their experience, whether online or offline, something so effortless and pleasant that they will come back again and again? Unfortunately for the vast majority of the retailers out there they have not combined enough technology with the data they have available to know who THEIR customer is and what THEIR customer wants. You can watch the competition but at that point you're following the competition. The unique opportunities exists when you go out ahead and create something new in your value chain for consumers.You could, in addition, introduce highly sought after products, unique to your market, which Amazon may not have but that are popular and rising in their movement.Another example of Amazon winning out in the retail war: they already have frictionless checkout with their Amazon Go concept. You mean to tell me not one other retailer has thought of this and put the effort to test it? Insane. Here's a complete write up on Amazon Go technology and how it works if interested.The other aspect here which should be considered is that a lot of this technology doesn't have to be super expensive to try out like many of the SMBs make it seem. When smaller online-offline hybrids introduce a framework or marketplace to tie themselves together in the fight, I am not so sure they will win, though there will be some winners who have taken a new approach, such as Bonobos, Nike and Etsy.
  • Posted on: 07/18/2017

    Is online fulfillment from stores too complex for e-grocery?

    To Paula Rosenblum's point, the problem I faced with my online order from Stop & Shop's Peapod is that the groceries I was used to, like a full bunch of bananas, seemed like baby sized. The bag of Brussels sprouts I had normally gotten was half the size for just as much money. It did come in time, and I wasn't ordering insane ingredients, but the expectation and reality were still distorted.It shouldn't be too hard to do in reality. There have been systems doing this forever. Now, with advanced systems like Epic Commerce, A.I. can utilize the in-store availability to suggest new products or even auto-reorder. The retailers/grocers not using this type of technology, at least at the omnichannel level, are set for a downward spiral. Consumers expectations are only growing and these grocers have to invest in their technology stack equal to anything else they are doing.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2017

    Will more customer rewards lift J.C. Penney’s sales?

    I certainly think this is a good move, however I think the execution of it could be a little better. For instance, why not use a subscription rewards program like the Prime example with Amazon? Offer up free installation and maintenance for a monthly $15 along with free shipping or a unique blend of a few advantages they could offer in one bundled "upgraded" J.C. Penney account. They would get the points, the rewards, the shipping, the this-and-that and it all factors into their J.C. Penney account.At this point, marginal improvements to J.C. Penney are not going to make a difference. They've got to get scrappy and figure out what they still can do to win back customers. I agree with Phil that this strategy in the short term works, but in the long term it makes it so that the loyal customers are always waiting for their reward, whereas if they are paying for it they will want to come back to take advantage of it.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2017

    Will online games fuel mobile engagement for Jet.com and other retailers?

    Well, certainly this can work in some form. First off, anything that aids in the onboarding of new customers at a reasonable cost should be attempted. I think where companies go wrong is by putting a ton of research and development time into a game which in the end does not outweigh the costs by numbers of new users, customers, etc.The games, if properly run and set up will allow retailers to collect emails, gather information and properly convert this client throughout the customer lifetime. While games may be great, I believe the power comes from referrals that seem almost like a game because they are so fun. Referrals, intelligent coupons and social-inspired shopping rewards are quite powerful in the "game" sense because you can earn points or dollars off, etc. But there is a direct benefit which is clear to see in such programs, whereas games can become distractions and more "ad-esque" in their nature.
  • Posted on: 07/05/2017

    Will Amazon’s Prime Day set a new sales record?

    Prime Day is a great way to realize more sales during a slower time of the year. What I am surprised about is the unwillingness to include a lot of their digital content within the Prime Day ecosystem. We have heard a lot about the products being offered, but not a whole lot on digital content being offered up. I think if they did this they might see a whole lot of new eyes on their content hub which aren't aware of it or haven't considered it seriously.Also interesting about Prime Day is the response from other retailers, namely Walmart. They have done well to combat Amazon's Prime Day, but they have not done enough for a "Walmart Day" as I was expecting to see in response to the first Prime Day.In addition to this Prime Day, I think retailers can learn a thing or two about how Amazon handles the selection of products. Many times the products they offer are actually loss leaders designed to hook people into their ecosystem. Most retailers ignore this aspect because they cannot suffer the loss, even though the future stream of cash flows are higher once this customer becomes a regular member. I would like to see more retailers, or a co-op of retailers, work to bring their own "Prime Day-esque" vibe.

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