Could you tell us about your current role and your journey to Competera? What inspired you to join the company?
As CMO at Competera, I am in-charge of the “gold” Marketing strategy, the company’s scaling and recognition across our key markets. Our Marketing team helps Competera understand our clients and their needs better, which leads to creating a better product. It all comes down to helping our customers earn more, which means more revenue for us.
I joined the company in 2016 for three reasons. First of all, I was impressed by our CEO, Alex Galkin. He is a great visionary with a distinct vision of where we should go and what exactly we should do. And, most importantly, why we should do it.
Secondly, I wanted to go global. Since the beginning, we have had quite ambitious goals and believed that one element — optimized pricing — can be a game-changer for retail businesses worldwide. We’ve been operating across almost 30 countries, which translates into a variety of business models and local peculiarities we have to adjust to. It is wildly engaging!
Finally, I wanted to understand what B2B Marketing is. After almost four years with the company, I have realized: there is neither B2B nor B2C Marketing. There is Human-to-Human Marketing. This approach never fails.
What is Competera? How does it fit into a retail Technology stack? Which retail teams can benefit from it, directly or indirectly?
My personal definition of Competera is digitized expertise and intuition in retail. It is a next-gen pricing solution that uses a set of algorithms and algorithm-generated price recommendations to help businesses reach the next level of development and revenue. We show retailers the quickest way to boost growth by using just one element, pricing. The key is to optimize it the right way — and that’s what we help companies do.
We realize that there is a whole ecosystem behind every retailer’s pricing decision. Therefore Competera is designed to integrate with this system quickly and smoothly. It is essential as next-gen solutions like ours are aimed to solve more complex tasks than ever before. They are required to be scalable, of higher quality and more user-friendly, while boosting key metrics like profit margin, sales, and revenue. I am proud to say: our users state that they enjoy an up to 16% revenue uplift and a 24% Sales growth.
Competera’s platform influences all the teams involved in creating the optimal price. These are Commercial, Sales and Marketing teams, as well as the Pricing team.
What are the core technologies behind Competera’s pricing platform?
We are using the most advanced neural networks which are constantly developing. Why is this important? First of all, our customers can always be sure of having the most state-of-the-art technology at their fingertips. Secondly, such networks allow us to process billions of pricing scenarios.
As the market is extremely fast-paced, retail teams need to make pricing decisions in real-time. However, humans are capable of considering three or four parameters when crafting a more or less relevant price. With technology, managers can factor in dozens of parameters for thousands of products and come up with the optimal offer.
The foundation of our approach is switching from SKU-based to portfolio-based pricing. This means that our price recommendations are based on taking into account the cross-impact between all the products in the portfolio. Algorithms can calculate how the price changes of one item will influence the sales of another item in the portfolio. Can you imagine how much data you need to analyze in real-time? Humans simply cannot do it without the right technology.
Which Marketing and Sales Automation tools and technologies do you currently use?
What businesses and geographies are you currently Marketing to? How hard is it to attract and retain customers in your industry?
We have a clear vision of our potential customers who can benefit from our solution the most. These are mature retailers across various verticals and countries. Currently, we are targeting the UK, Central Europe, Asia, and the US.
As for customer attraction and retention, the approach has been altering recently. Ten years ago, the SaaS industry enjoyed much attention from VCs, which meant that startups would rather please investors than customers. As the situation is changing and raising funding is becoming harder, companies are finally turning to their customers. Today customers are the main investors.
However, the main thing remained unchanged. If you know your customers and their pains, have industry expertise and know exactly what you are doing, then I would say that enticing the client is not something unyielding.
How retail has evolved technology-wise recently?
Retail has been the battlefield between old-school and next-gen solutions over the past several years. You know that it is an extremely conservative, slow to change industry. However, we are witnessing the new wave of approaches and tech products becoming more powerful every day. They are aimed to solve extremely complex tasks in every retail area while remaining easy-to-use.
Traditional retailers still dominate the market thanks to their legacy, but innovative-friendly companies are showing stunning financial results and growing exponentially. The new software can highlight which areas need to be optimized and perform significantly better. In pricing, the evolution is happening rapidly thanks to the introduction of AI, ML and Big Data.
Just being called an innovative business does not suffice to succeed, though. It is very important to know how to apply innovations properly — otherwise, they are useless. Using new solutions requires retail teams to develop a new mindset and be ready for a change.
What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in AI-based retail enterprise tools for 2020-2025?
AI is famous for ensuring fast results. I believe it will be fully embedded in our daily routine regardless of industry. In retail, AI is likely to keep influencing pricing heavily as it is the area that can bring the fastest ROI once optimized. The future as I see it will be the age of people enhanced by technology, knowing how to use it properly.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Marketing leader?
Marketing has three “slices”: Storytelling, Data Management, and Process Automation. I believe that the right teams will enjoy the highest rate of tech penetration in the last two domains. Everything that can be automated should be automated since it directly influences your efficiency.
As for Competera, we are already introducing sophisticated solutions in our Outbound Marketing, Sales Management, ABM campaigns, and analytics. I am proud that we are automating more and more routine tasks yearly. This also helps us ask the right questions and get answers to these questions with a new level of speed and accuracy and allows us to switch from reactive to proactive approaches.
How do you inspire your people to work with technology?
I believe that at Competera we are all people naturally interested in technology. Definitely, we are a tech-savvy team. Therefore, I don’t feel a particular need to inspire anyone. In fact, very often my team inspires me to use this or that tech solution.
One word that best describes how you work.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
I start and end my day with Google Calendar. I also use Gmail inbox, Trello, Pocket, Medium, SoundCloud (I am crazy about podcasts), and Amazon Kindle.
What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
Focus — that’s the most important.
What are you currently reading?
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
If you are a Team Lead, your main job is to protect the interests of your company. You are not team Marketing or Sales, or Commercial department. You are team business.
Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read
Thank you, Anna! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Anna Belous is an expert in marketing SaaS products, with particular experience in enterprise sales.
Anna is focused on developing marketing campaigns and programs to solve business needs like pipeline generation and growing brand awareness, as well as conquering new markets and customer segments.
Competera is a new generation AI-driven pricing software which converts demand prediction into revenue for retailers. Founded in 2014, Competera provides price optimization and data scraping solutions for e-commerce and brick and click retailers.
Competera | Competitive Data product is a real-time data scraping and massive amounts of data delivery for e-commerce enterprise business to focus on impact-worthy challenges and price confidently. AI-based algorithms for competitive data scraping offset possible errors and guarantees 95% data quality in SLA.
The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.