Founders’ POV

Let’s be honest–eCommerce is a bit of a mess right now.

A couple of years ago the industry collectively agreed that eCommerce was no longer just a revenue channel and that the eCommerce team had responsibilities to their retail stores, to other digital channels, to the brand as a whole, and most importantly, to the customer.

eCom, as we once knew it, is basically dead.

This organic growth of the role of commerce has created a beautiful mess for traditional brands and retailers and the ecosystems that are supposed to serve them. But it’s a different story for Amazon and digitally native brands who seem to be unhindered by legacy systems, siloed organizations, or bureaucracy. This race requires agility and flexibility.

We must evolve.

The only way to turn the tide on this market-share evaporation is for all of us to do our part toward creating a community where transparency, efficiency, and value-creation is rewarded.

$2.8 trillion

in Digital Value over the next 10 years

“Over the next 10 years (2015-2024) global retail industry has $2.8 trillion in Digital Value at Stake through the successful adoption of digital transformation initiatives.”
– Cisco

We’re seeing challenges within each component of the ecosystem:

For Brands and Retailers:

  • The eCommerce department must become un-siloed–upending existing processes and people.
  • A shared vision is required to align strategies and investments across departments.
  • Mapping the customer journey must result in actual tactics and drive real movement in personalized segments; we’ve moved past pretty whiteboard diagrams.
  • The digital marketing tool-set has become exponentially more complex and dynamic–requiring a clear, streamlined process to navigate it successfully.
  • An increase in content-creation is required to feed the Personalization boom.
  • The reliance on analytics has never been greater, but it’s still struggling to tie together the tangled web of interaction points.
  • Overlapping point solutions in the partner landscape adds complexity and cost to an already tumultuous environment.
  • Agnostic solution consultants are rare and struggle to keep up with changes in software, platforms, product-roadmaps, etc.
  • The promise of AI-based segmentation is marred by multiple datasets with duplicate records–requiring significant data cleansing efforts–while adding risk of inaccurate assumptions and decisions.

80%

revenue increase from digital initiatives by 2020

“125,000 enterprises expect revenue from their digital initiatives to increase by 80% by 2020.”
– Gartner

For Core Platforms:

  • CRM is the new battleground. Every platform is fighting for ownership of the Customer Record across all touchpoints because therein lies the future of commerce AI.
  • The maturing landscape includes a shift to the cloud (Salesforce Commerce Cloud, SAP, Magento, Shopify on the rise with a few other notables), which means that historically on-prem solutions have had to scramble to solve for competitive cloud solutions.
  • Senior Solution Consultants are required to be deeply experienced in the complex commerce ecosystem to effectively recommend and sell the full suite of products offered by the big enterprise platforms, which makes training expensive and time consuming.
  • Big replatform deals are fewer and farther between. Most big brands and retailers have already made their bets on the tech stack they will leverage and are now struggling with point solutions and more seamless integration to other internal systems (ie., CRM, Marketing, Service, POS, Fulfillment, etc)
  • Trends toward decoupling the CMS from the commerce system and opting for a headless commerce/microservices approach are on the rise, which proves difficult for the current pricing models of the mature platforms.
  • Platforms need to continue to support brands and the industry growth with optimized experience and innovation on B2B, B2C, mobile, online & instore, and this often means competing against partners they’ve welcomed on their very own platforms.

only 27%

of businesses have a coherent digital strategy

“Only 27% of businesses have a coherent digital strategy for creating customer value in place”
– Forrester

For Marketplace Partners:

  • Third party providers must spend time educating the marketplace, from system integrators and creative agencies to eCommerce platforms, on the benefits of their solution.
  • Industry contacts tend to move around making it increasingly difficult to make lasting, trustworthy connections.
  • eCOM leaders’ inboxes are inundated with thousands of competent third party solutions, which means getting a response to your outreach is increasingly difficult.
  • The traditional RFP process is completely broken. Time is wasted going through minutia over email, only to find out that the brand made a selection based on price because they didn’t have a good way to differentiate between similar products.
  • Accurately reflecting changes in vendor capabilities and product roadmaps is impossible using existing partner-comparison tools; the feature comparisons required to assess the difference between a good solution and a bad solution (based on relevance) simply don’t exist.
  • Buzzwords like Personalization and Artificial Intelligence make it easy for pretenders to hide behind talk of algorithms without clearly articulating where and how the data is flowing, illustrating any verifiable revenue uplift for a brand, or proving objective, comparable results from their customers.

2,788 Extensions

available on Magento marketplace

“As of Jan 2018, there were 2,788 overall extensions available on the Magento marketplace.”
– Magento Marketplace

For Systems Integrators:

  • SIs are making bets on where to focus their offerings to mitigate risk and maximize their value either by growing horizontally (investing in new delivery practices on fast growing platforms) or vertically (i.e. invest in building specific competencies in Commerce, Marketing, Content, or Service). This requires a high level of ecosystem awareness and a good poker face.
  • SIs must react quickly to platform upgrades and the domino effect of organizational changes, updated processes, and the invariable new training required, further risking consistent quality to their delivery.
  • Talent and experience are increasingly rare as Holding Companies realize their gap in commerce capabilities and acquire smaller integrators.
  • The talent pool is further diminished as Amazon, Google, and Facebook continue to acquire the top technical resources. This makes qualified technical consulting resources few and far between. And the gap is widening as offshore delivery options continue to expand.
  • SIs spend a significant amount of unbillable hours educating their prospects on platform idiosyncrasies. This guidance often goes unrewarded and is used to compare SI recommendations against cheaper (and often less capable) options.
  • Not all SI partners are created equal, and the metrics that platforms use to rank their partners (delivery scores, number of certified resources, etc.) are rarely published for brand/retailer consumption.
  • Repeatable processes and scalable differentiating IP has proven to be the winning formula yet are difficult to maintain given the turbulent nature of staffing at services companies.

only 8%

digital revenue growth for agencies in 2016, down from 13.5% in 2015

“Digital’s share of revenue for U.S. agencies from all disciplines reached 46.6% in 2016, up dramatically from 25% of revenue in 2009. However growth in overall agency market share is quickly moderating – Agencies’ digital revenue increased 8.0% in 2016, down from 13.5% in 2015.”
– Ad Age

And that’s why we started Kogent.

Our Solution:

Kogent is creating an intelligent digital roadmap for brands and retailers that is both personalized and dynamic. This is coupled with a partner marketplace powered by our recommendation engine that pairs brands/retailers, software partners, and systems integrators based on relevant, personalized criteria.

There are three core feature areas:

1. Dynamic Digital Roadmap
Audits, insights, personalized systems architecture visualization, and prioritized initiatives informed by revenue uplift models, total cost of ownership (TCO), and integration timelines

2. Partner Marketplace
Apples-to-apples feature comparisons of the top software and service partners mapped to explicit requirements; automated RFP, SOW, and NDA functionalities to help the work move faster

3. Intelligence Tools
A suite of AI-driven tools, as well as the Kogent Slack community, that deliver actionable insights for Brands, Retailers, and Partners, over time presented in a configurable dashboard

With these features, Kogent will become an indispensable partner in your journey toward a shared vision and strategy internally, and a truly agile, customer-first organization externally.

Co-founded by Sharon Gee, Marko Bon, Joe Tatarski, and Olivia Yuan, the Kogent Platform is informed by years of experience with enterprise retail challenges and solutions. We’ve built a dream team of specific industry talent, primed and ready to make sense of this unnecessarily complex environment, in partnership with you.

As we enter early beta, we will be consulting with our industry’s leading brands, retailers, platforms, and partners to best prioritize key features. This process will allow our client-partners exclusive access to the tools, templates, and insights we’re developing into the Kogent platform.

Join us.

– Sharon, Olivia, Joe and Marko

Schedule time to meet with us at NRF.

Request early access to the beta.

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