The E-Commerce Roundtable


How should companies deal with today’s digital commerce challenges? The following experts discuss this in this roundtable article: Tobias Marks, thought leader at Meyle+Müller Group; Michael Robinson, CMO at Crownpeak; Upen Varanasi, founder of Riversand (now Syndigo); and Temel Kahyaoglu, principal analyst at The Group of Analysts.

In this roundtable, we bring together four experts in PIM, product communications, and e-commerce to talk about the true success factors for digital business, the markets they serve, and the biggest challenges currently standing in their way of engaging customers on their digital journey.

MICHAEL ROBINSON: E-commerce is all about the customer experience. Companies must succeed in evoking positive emotions when potential customers interact with their brand. However, the complexity that needs to be managed increases with the ever-growing number of different channels. Expectations for the delivery of personalized product content are also rising. Overcoming these challenges is therefore the first step in attracting customers online.

Michael Robinson

Michael Robinson has more than 20 years of marketing experience, primarily with technology vendors, including Riversand, which was acquired by Syndigo in 2021. Since April 2022, he has been Chief Marketing Officer at Crownpeak, a Digital Experience Platforms (DXP) provider.

CMO at Crownpeak

UPEN VARANASI:That’s a good point. However, more and more companies are finding that with their current technological set-up, they are not able to meet the challenges you mentioned. We have seen so many companies trying to manage their product data with the simple catalogs provided by store systems. Sooner rather than later, they inevitably reach the limits of these product catalogs – no matter how simple their product portfolio may be. Because no matter how simple the offering, the customer journey is anything but. Each software solution has its own functional and strategic focus, and to manage the data, you need a system built for just that purpose.

Upen Varanasi

Upen Varanasi is a true tech visionary: as founder and former CEO of Riversand, he is responsible for one of the most advanced PIM solutions on the market. Following Syndigo’s acquisition of Riversand
in 2021, he is now focused on bringing his expertise to bear in a variety of areas, where his roles include investor and strategic advisor.

Founder of Riversand (now Syndigo)

TOBIAS MARKS: I agree with that – but at the same time, it’s about much more than just the technology itself. Even the best system available will not help you achieve your goals if it is not properly implemented and set up. Only a deeply integrated digital value chain can provide the foundation for the flexibility needed to design effective customer journeys. Developing a strong data model and populating it with the right data and content is also another key requirement to successfully drive online sales.

Tobias Marks

Tobias Marks has extensive knowledge of media processes, product content and AI-driven data streams. He not only advises companies on the selection of the right tools, but also supports his customers with strategic advice.

Thought Leader at Meyle+Müller and
CCO at apollon

TEMEL KAHYAOGLU: Absolutely, and of course you have to make the right software choice from the start. Just because a solution appears to be ahead of the competition doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right choice for every business. There are so many factors to consider: Does it fit my strategy? Can it be integrated smoothly into my existing system landscape? Does it cover my current and future use cases?

Temel Kahyaoglu

Temel Kahyaoglu has been in the PIM/MDM and DAM space for two decades. Among other things,
he and his team have already supported more than 500 companies in evaluation projects. He has excellent knowledge of the vendor market and is known for his excellent consulting skills, which have landed him on several advisory boards.

Founder and CEO of The Group of Analysts

MICHAEL ROBINSON: Of course, these are all basic things that companies need to sort out before engaging their prospects with attractive product content. But even then, there is no guarantee that they will be successful with their online business. It is very important today that they constantly learn about the behavior, preferences and needs of their customers. You need to understand their decision-making processes in order to actively shape them by optimizing their content performance.

TOBIAS MARKS: The difficulty is measuring and adapting – again, companies face a huge market of solutions and tools that promise to solve these challenges. It is difficult to figure out which of these are actually able to support them effectively in the various stages of the product content lifecycle. Software buyers must constantly ask themselves: do we really need this? Do the potential efficiency gains justify the investment?

TEMEL KAHYAOGLU: The complexity that companies face is increasing: the service providers that help companies with all this are also becoming more and more heterogeneous. The classic software integrator, who originally took care of the implementation and integration of the ERP, PIM or DAM system, is now increasingly being asked to provide strategic consulting for the entire digital roadmap. At the same time, digital agencies that take care of companies’ websites and online stores suddenly find themselves confronted with requests that affect the procurement level of the information supply chain – an area they usually didn’t have to worry about in the past. And, of course, there are analyst firms that try to bring clarity to the market by evaluating the different software areas in a neutral and objective way and can even help companies to set up and implement a thorough digital strategy. But when it comes to integration, data and content services, again, they can’t help.

UPEN VARANASI:That’s why close cooperation is the best way forward for all of them – and ultimately for the companies, too. There are very few companies that take a holistic approach that covers all the needs of a business on its digital journey. And those who claim to be a one-stop shop are usually large and expensive consulting firms that small and medium-sized companies wouldn’t even think of. I truly believe that coming together to help businesses achieve their individual goals is the right thing to do!

MICHAEL ROBINSON:I think that’s an interesting perspective, and I think that as software vendors we should take advantage of such network effects. With all the players influencing the demand market, it is certainly good to talk to them all and continuously expand your partner network to spread and grow.

While companies are confronted with strong marketing messages and many buzzwords to help them navigate the increasing complexity of today’s e-commerce challenges, neutrality and transparency seem to be hard to find. Bringing together thought leaders from different fields is a great way to challenge opinions, paradigms and ideas that shape how we think about today’s markets. Many thanks to the participants of this roundtable!