Hiring our Chief Marketing Officer!

Published on by Joannes Vermorel.

We are hiring a lead generation wizard!

Lokad is a software company that specializes in quantitative optimization for commerce. We help merchants, and a few other verticals, to forecast their inventory and to optimize their prices. We are profitable; we are still small but growing fast. We are closing deals North America, Europe and Asia. The vast majority of our clients are not in France.

Lokad is sold through the web, almost exclusively relying on inbound marketing. We have hundreds of leads per month, but we are aiming for thousands. So far marketing was done part time by the founder, but it's time to put marketing in more capable hands.

As the Chief Marketing Officer at Lokad, you will have one metric: the number of qualified leads; and we expect you to own a lead commit as well. At this stage, we do not care about corporate marketing, only lead generation matters. The web is the native marketing channel of Lokad. While other channels can be leveraged, we expect you to steadily increase the presence of Lokad on the web to generate the bulk of lead growth.

Our technology is very noticeable, and we need you to make sure that decision makers do notice. Our reach is the world. Lokad is already available in many languages beyond English.

We are located 50m from Place d'Italie, Paris, France.

Desired Skills and Experience

You have two years or more in lead generation marketing for a B2B SaaS company. With a bit of help from a graphic designer, you can deliver awesome web marketing materials. Your written communication skills are top notch, and big bonus to you if you have a blog with some audience. B2B stuff is usually boring, and non-viral, and yet, you can make things happen: you can vanquish the market inertia and make people pay attention. Naturally, you are perfectly fluent in English. Speaking French is a bonus but not a requirement.

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SkuVault natively integrated

Published on by Joannes Vermorel.

SkuVault is a warehouse management software tailored for eCommerce. We are pleased to announce that SkuVault is now natively supported by Lokad. Importing the SkuVault historical data into Lokad can now be done with a single click - or no clicks at all using our scheduling feature. Now SkuVault-powered businesses can get advance inventory forecasts as well as powerfull commerce analytics within minutes.

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Competitive intelligence with Competera

Published on by Joannes Vermorel.

Starting from today, Lokad-powered merchants can obtain the prices of their competitors by using their own Lokad account, thanks to our new partner Competera. The app benefits from a native integration within Lokad.

Competera is a competitive price monitoring app. Give them the domain names of your competitors, the domain name of your own store, and Competera will begin extracting prices right from the web. Competera takes care of generating a price matrix where each one of your products gets matched with the prices of your competitors. Competera works pretty much like Lokad: no software to install and a monthly subscription. You can get a trial and demo as well.

By combining Competera and Lokad, it becomes possible:

  • to stop wasting time with manual and infrequent competitor surveys
  • to monitor how your market share reacts to competitors' pricing moves,
  • to craft pricing strategies that leverage both in-house data and competitors' data
  • to fine-tune the trade-off between profitability and growth

The Competera team is here to deliver all the support your company needs as far as monitoring your competition is concerned. In turn, Lokad is here to turn this data into better margins, better stocks and more growth depending on your strategic targets.

Interested? Just drop us an email, and we will make sure your setup goes smoothly.

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Currency exchange rates with Envision

Published on by Joannes Vermorel.

Merchants frequently buy with one currency and sell using another. As online commerce is becoming more and more a global commerce, it's not unusual to encounter merchants who are buying in multiple currencies, and selling in multiple currencies as well. From a business analytics viewpoint, it soon becomes rather complicated to figure out where the margins stand exactly. In particular, margins depend not only on the present currency conversion rates, but also on those that have been in place 6 months ago.

As part of our commerce analytics technology, we have recently introduced a new forex() function that is precisely aimed at taking into account historical currency conversion rates for almost 30 currencies - including all the major ones.

Lokad's built-in dashboards have already been updated to take advantage of this function. Now, when Lokad carries out a gross-margin analysis for example, all the sales orders and purchase orders are converted into a single currency, applying the correct historical rates used at the time the transactions were made.

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In the end, there can be only one

Published on by Joannes Vermorel.

When it comes to the optimization of stock levels, or prices, or assortments … merchants need to look at many business performance indicators to be able to make the correct operational decisions. However, numerical optimization, much like statistical forecasting, is deeply counter-intuitive. In particular, there is a deep and subtle catch when using indicators to optimize an aspect of your business: in the end, there can be only one. Maintaining multiple indicators to drive the final decision that results from an optimization process is a recipe for picking a posteriori the metric that makes the management looks good, while damaging the business in the process. Let’s review how the whole thing unfolds.

There are many indicators that are typically found in commerce. For example, we have the total stock value (the lower, the better), the average inventory service level (the higher, the better), the total sales volume (the higher, the better), the average gross margin (the higher, the better), etc. When looking at just one indicator in isolation, everything is simple: there is an obvious “improvement” direction (e.g. the higher, the better). However, as soon as we consider multiple indicators at the same time, things get more complicated – a lot more complicated.

Indeed, all these indicators are conflicting: lowering the stock value negatively impacts the service levels, increasing the gross margin (nearly always) has a negative impact on the sales volume… Thus, the whole idea of improving one indicator at a time is bunk: this one improvement nearly always comes at the expense of a deterioration. Then, for larger companies, the problem is amplified by the corporate structure itself: the supply chain division is held accountable for any increase in stock, but it’s the contact center division that is rewarded for the improvements in customer satisfaction.

However, the problem does not stop at simply managing conflicting indicators, time is also of the essence, since market conditions are changing all the time and there is a lot of noise involved. As a result, whatever the management might be doing, there are (nearly) always some indicators that will improve from one quarter to the next. Thus, in order to avoid looking bad, it is extremely tempting to cherry pick the indicators deemed as most relevant. With the risk of sounding very technical, it’s a case of ex-post-facto rationalization: we (un)consciously tend to build some good narrative after stuff happens to explain why everything went according to plan.

Therefore, whenever a business optimization initiative is at stake, there can only be “one” indicator that consolidates all the relevant business drivers. For example, as far as inventory optimization is concerned, the pinball loss function is a first step forward towards building an indicator that properly reflects the asymmetry existing between over-forecasting and under-forecasting the future demand. While the pinball loss is far from telling everything about your inventory situation, it can already give sensible results as far as the trade-off between “stock value” vs “service levels” is concerned. Having this “master” indicator is the only way of optimizing just about anything, because as we have seen, when you get the luxury of hand-picking conflicting indicators, everything becomes blurred.

Nevertheless, it is important to clarify that while a “master” indicator is essential, there is no need to discard all the other indicators. Commerce typically tends to be complex, and in order to apprehend this complexity, it typically takes many indicators to gain all the necessary insights. However, these indicators should be used precisely for that: gaining insights, not driving operational decisions.

Coming up with one efficient master indicator is difficult. This indicator should properly balance all the different business drivers intertwined in the problem being addressed. In practice, it is frequently a composite indicator built from a combination of conflicting indicators with strategic “weighting” variables. These variables represent the best strategic understanding that management can produce about their business. Indeed, there is no “quantitative” answer to highly ambiguous questions like: do we want more growth or more margin?

A common pitfall that we frequently observe when designing master indicators is “naïve rationalism”. This refers to indicators that, while being perfectly formalized, do not capture one or more of the essential drivers of a business. As a result, improving such indicators is like accelerating while driving in the wrong direction. Naïve rationalism is dangerous because it gives a false sense of confidence to the people involved. As the saying goes, it’s better to be roughly right than precisely wrong.

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