press release

Leadership Moves, Delivery Reorganization at Something Digital

This week, ecommerce agency Something Digital quietly announced a delivery team reorganization along with the ascension of four long-time team members to a newly formed C-suite. Changes were announced at the Q4 company meeting on December 5.

SD’s delivery team is moving from a traditional hierarchy to a matrix structure. All practices and associated services will remain intact, but there will be new internal formations around both functional and team-oriented leadership.

Something Digital C-Suite

Additionally, several long-time senior leaders were promoted effective immediately: Mickey Winter becomes SD’s Chief Creative Officer, Jon Tudhope becomes Chief Technology Officer, James Idoni becomes Chief Operating Officer, and Phillip Jackson becomes Chief Commerce Officer. These promotions are well earned, as SD is in the midst of 3 successive years of record growth.

“As a growing company, you can’t continue to operate with 100 people the same way you did with 50,” says Principal and Co-Founder Founder Jon Klonsky. “These colleagues—along with others being promoted—are great leaders who have helped us excel.”

Greg Steinberg, SD’s other Principal and Co-Founder explains further: “The changes represent our effort to better distribute leadership, accountability, and culture. We’re extremely excited about SD’s next decade.”

About Something Digital:
Something Digital creates human focused digital commerce experiences that evolve brands and grow businesses. We specialize in commerce, digital strategy, user experience and design. Our expertise ranges from fashion & apparel to food & beverage, accessibility, and everything in between. We are in it for the long-haul and develop long lasting client partnerships that reap unparalleled growth and success.
Learn more ›

[BRIDGE] SOMETHING A Mentorship Program Designed to Jumpstart Careers  

Bradley Brecher earned a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from New York University in May of 2019. Like many new grads, he was eager to stay in the Big Apple, and looked around at New York-based companies that could use his newly acquired skills, and quickly settled on Something Digital. Upon joining the SD team in mid-June, Bradley was selected to participate in SD’s Jumpstart program as well as SD’s [BRIDGE] SOMETHING mentorship program.

[BRIDGE] SOMETHING is a 6 month program that brings together newly hired, recent grads with seasoned employees to help ease the transition from school-life to SD-life through thoughtful guidance and structured support.

Bradley was paired with Phillip Jackson, SD’s Ecommerce Evangelist and Magento Master. Eager to know if the program delivered tangible benefits, Phillip sat down with Bradley for a debriefing.

Phillip Jackson: When you graduated in May, you interviewed at a lot of companies, including some big names in this business. Why did you choose SD out of all the opportunities?

Bradley Brecher: First, Something Digital is a multi-faceted agency, so the work will always be interesting. I was also keenly interested in a smaller company, one that would allow me to have an impact from day one.

When I applied to SD, a director, an owner, and a tech lead interviewed me, and frankly, I was impressed. All three are very valuable to the company’s day-to-day operations, yet they took an hour out of their day to speak with me.

I also liked the Something Digital end product. The somethingdigital.com website is very modern-looking and 21st-century focused, as are all the sites the team builds for clients, which I looked at prior to interviewing. From a UI perspective, they’re quite beautiful and I thought: this is the level of quality I want to deliver.

PJ: You were also part of the jumpstart program which is an 8-week program focused on equipping engineers and employees with the skills and knowledge required to excel in their day-to-day responsibilities and careers. What were your thoughts coming into this program, and did it match your expectations?

BB: The Magento platform has a big learning curve, and when I first started five months ago I thought: How am I going to learn this complex platform in just eight weeks? Something Digitals’ jumpstart program spread it out, which made it easier for us. It was clear that there had been a lot of time and effort put into the planning. As a result, by the time we started working with real client sites I felt as if I had been well trained, and that made me feel confident.

PJ: What happened at the end of the eight-week training? Did you know what to expect?

BB: We were placed on teams; I was assigned to the Strategic Engagement Group, other mentees were placed on project teams. At this point, we began interacting with clients, which required new skill sets on top of the technical skills we learned.

We kind of knew what to expect, but until we started working with clients, it’s difficult to know what the environment would be like.

PJ: What were your responsibilities once you moved over to the Strategic Engagement Team? Do you feel as if you’re using the skills you studied in college or are you on new ground?

BB: One thing I really enjoy about being on the team is the real-world experience it provides. You can learn programming skills in school, but that’s just the base. The things you learn on the job can’t be taught in schools. I see this in multiple ways, from working on live projects to working on a team flow where multiple people write, review and change code simultaneously.

PJ: What was your biggest fear when graduating from college and considering a career in software development?

BB: That I’d be stuck behind a computer all day with little to no opportunity to interact with people, or work on other soft skills. But with the Strategic Engagement Team, I’m expanding my technical skills as well as learning vital communication skills, which will deliver dividends throughout my career. This is something most software developers right out of college don’t get to learn or use. I feel lucky.

PJ: What’s the hardest challenge you’ve had to overcome so far, and what was easier than you thought it would be?

BB: The biggest challenge was gaining the confidence to make my own decisions when deadlines were looming and everyone was really busy. I know I’m supposed to be under a lead, but there are times when I have responsibilities and I need to make my own decisions. Or, sometimes a manager will put something into my hand and ask my opinion, and that can be tough.

The challenge I found surprisingly easy is deploying live changes to client websites and moving things to production. I thought that would be much harder than it actually is.

PJ: Has the mentorship program been valuable?

BB: Yes, incredibly so. When I was paired with you everyone in the company told me I was lucky to have such a special opportunity, even though we didn’t work in the same office. They were right, of course, as you’re a Twitter influencer, an eCommerce evangelist, and very well known in Magento. All three of these aspects have benefited me a lot, like the time I wrote a code change to Magento Core and you tweeted it out to all of your followers. Almost immediately it was reviewed. This is a direct result of working with you.

It’s been great to connect with someone who isn’t on my team, someone who isn’t on the engineering team at all. It’s great to be exposed to someone who is on a completely different side of the company.

We’ve read three books together:

  • Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence―and How You Can, Too, by Gary Vaynerchuk
  • The 5 Choices – The Path to Extraordinary Productivity, by Franklin Covey
  • Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life, by Nir Eyal

 

As you know, I’ve sought your advice on management questions, technical issues, career advancement and just about anything that confounds someone who is new.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you some questions. Is that okay?

BB: You’re a busy guy; why did you agree to take the time out of your schedule to mentor me?

PJ:  This is something I talked about in a keynote address I gave earlier this year. I realized that I’ll reach a certain ceiling in my career, and while I have some notoriety in the world of eCommerce now, it certainly isn’t destined to last forever. Not everyone is destined to achieve global fame and success, after all. But ever one of us can help others pick up where we left off, if you will. I want my ceiling to be your floor, to give you the tools so that you can build up from there.

This is the open-source ethos. In the open-source world we share all of our learnings, challenges, successes, and failures so that the people who follow behind us won’t need to start from scratch. We want them to start from a higher order level of thinking or a higher platform. This is what the Something Digital mentorship program means to me.

BB: Would you have benefited from a mentor at the beginning of your career?

PJ: I’ve had many mentors throughout my career, though none of them formal like the relationship I have with you. And I didn’t have someone to show me how to avoid the pitfalls I’ve encountered in terms of time management, establishing boundaries between my work and personal life, and setting realistic expectations in what I can deliver. Some of these issues are addressed in the three books I recommended to you, but much of it has been learned through trial and error. Figuring this stuff out early in your career is beneficial, rather than waiting until you’re in your mid-thirties. I wish someone had sat down with me and armed me with tools when I was your age.

If you’d like more information about the [BRIDGE] SOMETHING mentorship program and/or Jumpstart, please contact us! Apply to SD Careers or shoot me an email at pjackson@somethingdigital.com to get started.

Written by: Phillip Jackson, Ecommerce Evangelist & Bradley Brecher, Programmer

Merchant to Merchant: 3 Brands Share their Strategies for Staying True to Their Principles

Creating a brand is hard enough – holding true to your ideals is harder still. But not impossible, as dressmaker Christy Dawn, custom eyeglass company Fritz Frames, and yoga brand Alo Yoga can attest. In this podcast, Victoria Ainsworth, growth consultant for Christy Dawn, Gabriel Schulmberg, Fritz Frame’s CEO, and Nick Jaquay, IT operations manager for ALO Yoga talked with Phillip Jackson about “doing things the hard way” and creating brand experiences and products that not only define – but align with – the mission of the brand.

We hope you’ll listen to the podcast in full (it’s about an hour), but if you can’t, here are five key takeaways:

Problem Solving as Genesis of Brand

Each brand began with a desire to solve a problem. For Christy Dawn, it was the massive waste and horrendous environmental impact of the fashion industry. Each year fashion houses order vast quantities of fabric for their collections for the coming year, much of which won’t be used, known as dead stock. Christy Dawn saw a business opportunity in those huge piles of unused fabric: a collection of dresses made from 100% dead stock. As it turned out, women love these dresses.

Heidi Hertel and Gabriel Schulmberg both have children who need glasses, and were frustrated with the experience of buying and replacing them on a regular basis. If your two-year-old needs glasses, expect them to be lost or broken frequently. Getting kids to the eye doctor, then to an eyeglass store to select frames, and then back again to have them fitted is time consuming. On top of that, styles and inventory are limited. Gabriel says that even if he was lucky enough to find a pair find a pair his children liked, there was no guarantee he could replace them with an identical pair once they were lost of broken. “We didn’t start out to sell glasses, we set it up to solve glasses, and the brand is grounded in that.” In other words, the brand was founded on making life for parents easier.

The founders of Alo Yoga are passionate about yoga, and wanted to make it easier for practitioners to incorporate it into their lives. A big challenge: going from the yoga mat to the street without changing clothes. Alo Yoga decided to create, “garments that carry over to the street, into a life lived consciously” because “mindful movement can travel beyond the studio.”

Listen to Customers

All three brands are keen to listen to their customers. For instance, before Fritz Frames began manufacturing frames the company interviewed 100 people, mostly moms, and asked them about their days. These interviews convinced them that they needed to offer customers a super simply sales cycle.

Victoria Ainsworth says that Christy Dawn is still small enough that they can follow up with every customer to find out how they like their dresses. Alo Yoga relies on social media to crowdsource their product design. Yogis get insight from their students, and then feed it back to Alo Yoga via social media.

Designing Products Around Mission

Every thoughtful brand launches with a mission, but staying true to that mission can be challenging. Why are these brands successful?

Fritz Frames’ mission was to make parent’s life easier. To that end, they offer custom, 3D printed eyeglasses, which they sell via an app. The app creates an image of the customer’s face, and allows the customer to select from different styles and colors virtually. The entire process, from downloading the app to queuing up the order at the 3D printing facility takes 5 minutes.

Alo’s mission is to allow people to be more mindful every day, which is why the brand offers an app with instructor-guided yoga routines. Customers can practice yoga as their schedule allows. The brand also has studios where shoppers can practice yoga.

In addition to making clothes out of dead stock, Christy Dawn now plants cotton in India. The cotton is both sustainable and regenerative, so as not to harm the plant.

Approach to Growth

Fritz Frames was launched as a way to provide eyeglasses to kids, but 50% of their orders now come from adults. Most eyeglass manufacturers make assumptions about the types of styles that are appropriate to each face shape, and if your taste runs contrary to those assumptions, you’re out of luck. Because Fritz Frames customizes all styles to the individual face, growth will come from making more customers happier.

Christy Dawn has no interest in growing just for growth’s sake. As Victoria explains, “we believe in sticking with this model and things will grow over time, and grow as they should.” For Christy Dawn, growth comes from word of mouth. Women love their dresses and tell their friends about it. They also advertise on social media, but they don’t rely on the usual tricks of 15% off, their ads stay true to their brand.

Technology is an important part of the Alo experience. For instance, smart mirrors leveraging augmented reality allow shoppers to see what they’ve tried on in many different colors. Growth comes from visualizing what the future holds, and being ready for it from a tech perspective.

Lifetime Engagement vs. Lifetime Value

Interestingly, each of these brands value lifetime engagement over lifetime value, which seems anathema to a consumer brand. “Focusing on long-term engagement, time spent thinking of the brand, is more important than trying to get them into a store to buy something,” explains Gabriel Schulmberg. “It changes how you approach the business. It’s not about driving sales, but how many touch points can we make this person feel great about the brand.”

The panel had a lot more to say about the challenges than described here. Have a listen on your next lunch hour, or commute by clicking here.

Written by: Phillip Jackson, Ecommerce Evangelist

Picture Perfect Ecommerce

Elevate your product imagery with these 6 best practices

What is the first thing customers are drawn to when they land on a product listing page or product detail page (PDP)? The images of the products of course! Humans are visual creatures, with decades of practice sizing up what we like, dislike, and just plain LOVE. We’re good at it, and without the ability to touch and feel products in real life, customers rely on imagery for information gathering. Merchants, you can make customers fall in love with your products and increase your conversion rates with sophisticated product imagery.

At Something Digital we can’t stress enough how product imagery can make or break a sale. SD recently created an ecommerce photography guide for one of our clients in the fashion industry, and we found that a few learnings from the guide can be applied to any ecommerce store. These 6 best practices help to elevate product imagery and the overall user experience, thereby increasing your customers likelihood to convert.

1. Maintain a consistent look and feel

Products should look like they are derived from the same place and brand. When consistency is achieved, customers are able to focus on the differences between products, rather than noticing inconsistencies within the photography styles or layout. The simplest way to incorporate consistency is to apply the same background color to all product images. Not only does this unify the product assortment, but it also creates a visual separation between the image and the page background.

Everlane uses a cool gray background color across all their product imagery.

 

When shooting accessories, consistency can also be achieved with the angle and composition of the products. Ensure the baseline is the same for every image of a particular category. That way, on the product listing pages customers’ eyes will be able to scan the various products more quickly.

Warby Parker keeps the baseline placement of their glasses the same for easy-to-scan product listing pages.

 

2. Incorporate movement when appropriate

When using models to showcase products, show them as the customer would expect to see them—as real living and breathing beings that move. To achieve this, incorporate different poses and angles, and ask your models to walk around in the products. Movement is captivating and adds to emotional feeling to the product. A breezy dress looks more enticing if the skirt is moving as the model walks.

Reformation incorporates movement in their apparel images giving customers a better sense of how the clothes will react in real life.

 

If using models in your photography isn’t appropriate for your product set, another way to incorporate movement is on the PDP. Video is immensely helpful in customer decision making. When selling apparel and fashion accessories, show the clothes on a real person moving around. If you’re selling more technical products like electronics, have an informational video explaining the specs. Customers will most often look to the image gallery for product videos, so ensure this optimal placement.

ASOS incorporates video into their PDP image galleries—helping customers decide if a product is right for them.

 

3. Show at least 4 angles

If only the front of a jacket is shown, chances are customers will be less likely to purchase it. Customers first gravitate toward the image gallery when attempting to learn more about a product, so incorporating 4 or more shots is paramount to their visual evaluation. At a minimum show the front, back, side, and a feature shot. A feature shot informs customers of texture and/or intricate details. Images are replacing in-store experiences, this feature shot can be used to call out important features that otherwise would be hidden to the customer.

Nike incorporates multiple angles for a well-rounded view of their products.

 

At least one image should show a product to scale. 42% of customers will look to the image gallery to assess the scale of a product. Showing a lifestyle shot within the gallery will allow customers to see the scale as well as see how the product could fit into their daily lives.

Burrow shows a person interacting with the product to give customers a better sense of scale.

 

Joybird incorporates lifestyle shots to help customers imagine the product in their own home.

 

4. Show all included products for kits

When selling kits or bundles be sure to show an image of all accessories that are included with the purchase. Keep images simple, and don’t show products that aren’t included with the product, as that can cause confusion to the customer. If a lifestyle shot is used on a PDP, be sure to state which accessories are not included to provide better clarity to the customer. There can be quite a lot of information to take in on a bundled product image, so including the individual product shots alongside allows customers zoom in on a particular part of the kit.

Hims clearly indicates what products are included in a kit with simple yet branded photography.

 

5. Consider a single product variation image

When customers are quickly scanning your site, it can be difficult to find variations of a product such as color or size. A way to incorporate variations more prominently is within the product photography. In addition to the multiple angle shots, a product variation image on the PDP lets customers easily compare without having to tab through the color or size swatches. It’s best to keep these shots very simple with minimal clutter in the background.

Apple clearly indicates what colors are available with simple yet branded photography.

 

6. Use large, retouched images

Customers zoom in on product images to see zippers, materials, ingredients, and much more before deciding to purchase. To ensure the best experience, your images should be crisp and professionally retouched. Retouching can fix any color imperfections, remove stray threads, perfect unevenness, and ensure a consistent tone that is in line with the visual brand. In cases where products are metallic, multiple shots may need to be provided to the retoucher so they can composite the images together to get the correct tone and prevent hot spots.

Allbirds features large, retouched product imagery, and allows the customer to zoom into the image.

 

Retouching is one of the most important steps in the photography. You want your products to look the best they can be, and retouching is the only way to achieve that perfect look. However, there is the risk of over-retouching, and some brands, such as ASOS, are taking control over the amount of retouching done on models. Remember to focus only on the retouching of the product itself, rather than the people interacting with the product. Depending on your brand, an overly retouched person may seem too unattainable or simply too unreal. Retouching is a delicate balance, and an art director can guide retouchers in the appropriate direction.

ASOS doesn’t focus on retouching their models, but rather retouches the products themselves.

 

After your brand has been established, it’s beneficial to create a photography guideline that documents lighting equipment placement, cropping, product angles, tone, and the process of exporting images. This provides new photographers or art directors a reference and helps to ensure consistency when using multiple vendors.

Premium product photography takes time and effort but done correctly it can differentiate your brand from the competition. Many brands today get it wrong.

Follow these six best practices and your customers will be more likely to convert.

If you need help with your photography or ecommerce website, let us know!

Written by: Lindsay Stork, Senior Interactive Designer

Something Digital Helps Magento Move into the Future

The Web has always been a cooperative endeavor, with the best minds coming together to create better experiences for the general user population. It’s an approach adopted by Magento through its Magento Contributors initiative, which acknowledges that the people who work with e-tailers day in and day out have critical insight into market needs, and that their collective insight can help propel the platform forward.

As Magento says about its community of contributors, “Your contributions are the foundation of the Magento open source platform. Contributions include source code patches — either bug fixes or new functionality — delivered by individual and partner developers across our Community.”

Something Digital’s Contributions to Magento

Something Digital has been impressively active in the contributions community, and recently Magento invited one of our developers, Patrick McLain, to join its Community Maintainer team. Patrick maintains a handful of open-source modules for Magento 2, and can often be found looking for interesting questions on Magento StackExchange.

Led by Patrick, Something Digital has made substantial contributions to Magento, including 40 submissions, 39 of which have been incorporated into Magento’s core code. His contributions have ranged from code modifications and bug fixes to new features that will enable progressive web applications (PWA) to support mobile phone shoppers.

Some highlights:

  • Libsodium encryption. A key contribution allows for implementation of the Libsodium encryption library. The encryption library previously used by Magento, mcrypt, had been deprecated for quite some time, so Patrick worked to bring Magento’s encryption library up to date. Thanks to Patrick and Something Digital, all encrypted values stored inside the database and used by the platform are now more secure.
  • GraphQL projects. Most of our contributions concern the GraphQL project, which is a query language originally developed by Facebook for its mobile applications, and competes with REST API. Facebook turned GraphicQL into an open source protocol, which in turn, enabled Something Digital to contribute to power the future of Magento’s front end in bringing about PWA.
  • Mobile Checkout. Within GraphQL Patrick made numerous contributions toward the checkout implementation, thereby allowing users to progress from viewing a product to putting it in their cart, setting shipping and billing addresses, payment information. His contributions span the checkout to order creation processes.
  • Payment Methods Architecture. Something Digital developed the architecture for online payment methods, i.e., how code will be structured for anyone implementing a payment method inside of Magento. And once it’s exposed to PWAs through GraphQL, will follow the architecture that Something Digital developed.

 

“It’s no surprise that Something Digital’s developers like Patrick are prolific contributors to Magento’s core platform. We’ve helped retailers thrive in the global ecosystem for 20 years, and have firsthand knowledge of what they need from their platform in order to serve their customers well and grow their businesses,” explained Greg Steinberg, Principal and Co-Founder of Something Digital. “The fact that the bulk of our contributions are now part of Magento core code speaks to the expertise of our development team.”

Something Digital Clients get an Inside Track

One of the reasons why Something Digital leadership is keen to allow its developers to participate in the Magento Contributors Community is that such participation has a direct benefit to our customers.

As Patrick explains, “For all new features that we help build, even before it’s released to the general public, before it’s available for anybody to use, Something Digital developers are already subject matter experts, because we wrote it. We understand the internal workings of it, the best practices for developing features on it, because we were there the whole way through the development cycle.”

If you want to learn more about our Magento contributions, who we are, and what we do, let us know!

Written by: Brittany Wheeler, Marketing Manager

Something Digital Launches New Mercury Accelerator with Key Partners

Something Digital is excited to announce our new Magento 2 Cloud Accelerator, Mercury. This offering for Magento Commerce Cloud enables merchants to go live with an operational, no-frills, affordable online store faster. The SD Mercury offering gives you the power of Magento while working with an award-winning agency and best-in-class technology partners to help grow your business and take it to the next level.

To make this build come to life SD partnered with some of the best integrations in the market; Dotdigital, Klevu, ShipperHQ, TaxJar, and Yotpo. Partnering with them gives merchants the opportunity to work with multiple integrations that will help them achieve success in ecommerce.

SD employs an agile process, best practice, business analysis, and improved out-of-box (OOB) functionality in this consultative offering to lead merchants to launch a Magento store front. Mercury includes a branded UI, focus management, an enhanced shopping experience with a configurable mini cart, and so much more.

If you’re interested in learning more about Mercury or getting a demo contact us here.

Security Lock

Security Best Practices: Security.txt

With the rise of cyber-criminal rings like Magecart, security is becoming an increasingly relevant topic within the ecommerce space. In this post we’ll explore an emerging specification, security.txt, and explore its relevance within the Magento ecosystem.

What Is It?

The usage of security.txt can be read about on the project’s homepage.

In a nutshell, websites publish a file named security.txt, in the .well-known/ folder. Here is an example of a published security.txt file, https://github.com/.well-known/security.txt. The file provides information on how security issues should be reported to the owner of website in question.

Why Is This Relevant?

As reported by Dutch security researcher, Willem de Groot, Magento extension are now the top cause of Magento breaches. “Internet Bad Guys” are proactively scouring the source code of Magento extensions looking for vulnerabilities and using them to compromise Magento sites. As such, it’s more important than ever for Magento extension providers to facilitate responsible disclosure of security vulnerabilities identified by responsible security researchers.

What Is Something Digital Doing About This?

I’m happy to announce that Something Digital now publishes a security.txt file:

If you discover a security vulnerability in any of our open-source modules, our website, or on the any of our client’s websites please report it to us responsibly as we’ve documented in our security.txt file.

Written by: Max Chadwick, Technical Lead

20 year celebration

The Women of Something Digital Reflect on the Past 20 Years of the Tech Industry

Something Digital turns 20 years old this year. We launched in 1999, the year before Y2K, a time that many assumed the digital universe as we knew it would come to a crashing halt. Smartphones, today’s ubiquitous accessory, and the app marketplaces they quickly gave rise to, were still some years away.

It was a time of cautious optimism, wide-eyed wonder and naivety. Ecommerce was not quite the major engine of the consumer economy as it is today, as many people didn’t quite believe that giving their credit card info to the ethernet (as it was often called) was a good idea.

At the same time, the number of ecommerce sites was exploding; People magazine ran a weekly column, called “The Net,” that highlighted the amazing range of products that were now available on “The Net.” In 1999, Amazon patented it’s 1-click service, and Alibaba launched — events that undeniably ushered in revolutions in consumerism.

It was also a time when we were quite naive as to what it meant to go online, as cartoonist Peter Steiner’s famous cartoon so aptly captured (“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”)

We assumed that the Net was the place to go when you wanted to explore, shop, and browse in absolute privacy. How things have changed!

Now that global marketplaces and apps are our new normal, it’s hard to imagine there ever being a time when going online required computers and dial-up modems, or that Amazon only sold books!

To honor our 20-year journey, as well as all things digital, the women of Something Digital answered 20 questions about working and mentoring in the digital ecosystem.

Lindsay Pugh, Senior Digital Strategist & Writer

1. Where are the biggest career opportunities for women in the digital ecosystem?

There are opportunities for women everywhere and as we continue to progress companies need to ensure that they are hiring them at salaries equal to men, and providing necessary benefits like flexible time off and maternity leave.

2. Do women have a fair shot of advancing their careers in the digital ecosystem?

In general, no. Women are deterred from entering careers in tech, perhaps because 1) the leaders in the industry are all men, 2) the pay gap is significant, 3) young girls who are interested in STEM education don’t realize that those types of careers are even possible because they don’t see themselves represented in the field.

3. What advice would you give girls interested in pursuing computer science?

Find female mentors and male allies and don’t be afraid to ask them for advice. Be confident in your skills, even when other people dismiss you or try to make you feel inadequate. If you can, pursue internships during high school and college and try to learn as much as possible. Maintain connections with the people that you meet in those internships because they might be valuable when you’re ready to enter the job market. I am fortunate to have a wonderful female boss at Something Digital who does a great job providing advice, feedback, and a clear path for growth within the company.

4. What impediments still hold women back in the tech industry?

Here’s a quick list of what immediately comes to mind:

  • Gender wage gap
  • Promotion bias
  • A need for more work/family flexibility
  • Lack of maternity/paternity leave options
  • Gender stereotypes
  • Lack of mentorship opportunities
  • Lack of female role models in leadership positions

 

Megan DeLeonardis, Director of Strategic Engagement

5. Are there aspects of the digital age that have empowered or inspired you?

It’s inspiring to know that we’re in an industry that is always changing, one that demands us to grow and adapt to in order to survive. For example, digital has become so customer centric that agencies and service providers are forced to become more strategic and creative about what’s needed now, as well as what we project will be necessary in 12+ months from now.

6. What can technology companies do to help women progress in this field?

Promote women in thought leadership! The more women that are front and center and a part of the conversation, the more normal their leadership positions will become. Personally, when I find good talent, I’m willing to create a new role for that person to keep them engaged and growing within the organization. Women should feel empowered to create a role and position for their skill sets, even if such roles never existed before in that company. As quickly as digital is changing, so does the makeup of how we deliver it.

7. What is your favorite part of being a woman in this industry?

When I first started at SD there were ~8 other women in the company. Within a year we headed out for “tea at The Plaza for the women of SD” and we couldn’t all fit in the same elevator. My favorite part of being a woman in tech is hiring women that are better than me, which has turned out to be quite easy.

8. Is the digital ecosystem a force for good?

It depends on who you ask. Digital is everywhere and everything, but the way a 30-year old mother interacts with it is very different from a 65-year old grandmother or a 22-year old college graduate. It can be misused and abused, but it also provides conveniences and capabilities to individuals that previously didn’t have the opportunities. It may monopolize time or free up time. Each individual has the power to let it be a force for good or evil.

Melanie Lopez, Product Manager

9. What advice would you give girls interested in pursuing computer science?

Seek internship opportunities as early as possible to gather a wide range of experience and exposure before entering the workforce full-time. Having a range of internship experience with different companies will give you exposure to the way that different organizations are run, how role definitions may vary from company to company, and will give you insight into what organizational values resonate with you and allow you to do your best work.

I recommend looking for internship roles that will allow you access to doing as much hands-on work possible, and prioritizing working with companies and supervisors that value mentorship as one of their core leadership values. I was lucky to have a strong mentor as my supervisor in my first professional role, and the extra focus on professional development and the lessons that I learned early on from that experience still influence the work that I do directly now, and how I’ve approached the management of my direct reports over the years.

10. What progress do you see being made in the next 20 years for women in the industry?

I hope to see more representation for women in positions of leadership in technical and creative organizations in the coming years. I believe that companies in the industry can directly influence this in part by prioritizing diversity in their recruitment, creating mentorship and professional development tracks for women looking to advance within their organizations, and supporting and prioritizing paid family leave for men and women.

11. How can women help future generations of girls interested in the tech industry to further their education and possibly careers in the digital ecosystem?

A great start for women and men alike would be volunteering for mentorship programs that specialize in providing opportunities for extended education, training, and exposure for girls of all backgrounds who are interested in tech. Women may also consider creating internship opportunities within their organizations, and connecting with mentorship programs or women in technology groups in universities to promote these opportunities to candidates who may benefit the most from them.

Mickey Winter, Creative Director

12. Which trends are you most gung-ho about?

The digital trend that has peaked my interest the most is the rise of AI Voice Assistants. Think Siri, Alexa, and Cortana. These voice enabled devices are proving to be super helpful and totally ingrained in our everyday lives. They help us shop online, screen our calls, manage our calendars, give us the latest news, entertain our kids by playing “Baby Shark” over and OVER AGAIN, you name it. They are the equivalent of a human personal assistant.

However, I find it very interesting that the majority of these AI Assistants are either branded as a woman or utilize a woman’s voice. “They embody what we think of when we picture a personal assistant: a competent, efficient, and reliable woman.” (Source).

What does this say about our society that these devices test better as women, and that these female branded devices perform menial tasks similar to a 1950’s secretary, while IBM’s “male” branded Watson is utilized in cancer treatment, operating rooms, and the “all-knowing” Jeopardy winner?

13. Does the digital ecosystem represent women and their needs well?

Given my thoughts on AI Voice Assistants I truly don’t believe the current digital ecosystem represents women well. We have come far, but not far enough. If we had more women in a tech leadership position at these larger tech companies perhaps these devices would have been branded differently, even providing the end user with the option to name it as they see fit. “Bob, play Baby Shark”. We can do better, and we will.

Caitlin Mekita, Strategic Engagement Manager

14. Why do you think it’s important for women to get involved in the digital ecosystem?

By including women’s voices, experiences, and skills in the designing and building of technology, we can create better, more inclusive products for everyone. The digital ecosystem is a cornerstone of a modern economy, and one with tremendous growth opportunities. As women strive for equality on all fronts, progress in the digital ecosystem will be of paramount importance.

15. Do you think schools are offering enough exposure to computer science to young girls?

Schools are not offering enough exposure to computer science, period. The subject is often dismissed as extra-curricular and computer science classes are among the first to be cut as school budgets are slashed. Offering equal opportunities to excel in computer science to young students is extremely important for women. As we know, talent in this arena is distributed equally among all students, and equal and enthusiastic encouragement for young students to study computer sciences will benefit women’s progress in the field.

16. Do you think the way the media represents computer science and coding is gender inclusive? Why or why not?

A quick Google image search of the word “programmer” yields thousands of images. The first appearance of a woman is the 36th result. As a society we still perceive “programmers” “engineers” and even “hackers” as men. TV (looking at you, Silicon Valley) and films tend to reinforce the perception. On a positive note, women’s computer science programs, such as Girls Who Code, have been able to garner considerable media attention and therefore have been able to reach a wider audience of girls and women looking to enter the industry.

Gina Angelotti, Interactive Designer

17. In which ways (if any), do you think, are we still naive about the internet?

I worry that we are naïve about how much free will we truly have. I’ve been thinking a lot about a medium article I read recently. In it, the writer, an MIT researcher, discusses the consequences of information online becoming more centralized and how our social media feeds gaze inward, failing to link out — with the exception of paid advertising — to other sites in the greater, potentially-soon-to-be-forgotten web ecosystem. Among the negative effects is that we lose control of what we’re exposed to, leaving the decision of what we read and digest up to inherently biased algorithms or machines. The writer doesn’t touch on PWAs, but I wonder if by saving only the apps we ‘choose’  to our devices, and cycling through them exclusively over and over, we shut out other voices, ideas, and opportunities. It may look like free will, but our exposure to the outside world increasingly becomes programmed, curated to a singular viewpoint, and therefore disconnected. A limited point of view, with content dictated by a limit group of people, winds up limiting our freedoms. That said, maybe the thing we are most naïve about is accepting that everything both on and offline evolves; we are not and have never been fully in control.

18. What feature or service do you wish existed but doesn’t today?

As a UX designer, I would love to be able to optionally cherry pick and turn off the extra noise on the websites I visit and the apps I use. Technically, I can do that using browser inspector tools, but those preferences don’t hold upon refreshing a page or entering a workflow. Not unlike a pop-up blocker, but for fixed elements within a webpage or product, anything that I find distracting in the moment or hinders my ability to enjoy the shopping, reading, task-managing experience. I like the idea of having sessions-based or cookie-based personalization controls, like the ability to easily change a typeface to one that is more legible if I’m reading a long article, hide all upsells and cross-sells on product detail pages so I can focus on the product at hand, or universally suppress paid content that I might mistake as genuine. I imagine it like a simple gesture, one that can’t be mistaken for any other. I suggest sessions-based, because I don’t want to risk missing out on information that might apply to me on subsequent visits. Our tastes, needs, and capabilities change over time, so what’s ‘noise’ to me today might not be tomorrow. I wouldn’t be surprised if some level of this kind of customization already exists, and if it does, tell me about it stat!

Leslie Hernandez, Office Coordinator

19. When you consider the digital trends of today, which are you most cautiously optimistic about?

I believe social media has become a great way for women to discover new interests and connect with influencers and confident women to look up to. However, I think that sometimes the lives we see on social media are idealized to a fault. Social media can often contort our ideas of reality- and make women unfairly compare themselves to the ‘picture perfect’ lives they see online. I believe it’s important for women to look beyond what social media tells them is “perfect”, and find worth in the work they do, the interests they pursue, and the talents they have.

Brittany Wheeler, Marketing Manager

20. What is your favorite part of digital?

My favorite part of digital is how connected digital has made all of us. It definitely has it upsides and downsides but overall I believe it’s made a positive impact on the world. It allows us to collaborate with people on the other side of the world and helps us solve problems. It can also make it difficult to weed through what is true or false but it’s given us a better sense of awareness about what to believe and makes us do research to learn more. It has opened our minds to other cultures and beliefs and allowed us to connect with people no matter where they are in the world.

At Something Digital we feel it is extremely important to be inclusive to all. Over the last 20 years we have continued to work to be inclusive and are excited to share the following stats:

  • Currently, our leadership roles consist of 50% women.
  • We offer competitive wages for men and women.
  • We offer opportunities to speak at events focused on supporting women in tech.
  • Our female to male ratio is 41%.

 

If you’re interested in speaking with SD about career opportunities or how you support women in tech we’d love to hear from you! 

Black Friday

Here are 5 things you can do to increase your AOV this holiday season

All online retailers spend a great deal of time thinking about how to attract more traffic to their sites. No doubt, feeding the top of your funnel is essential to your long-term success. But that’s just the first step. There are many things you can (and should) do to encourage your visitors to spend more money when they make purchases. In short, increasing your average order value (AOV) is an equally worthy goal.

Generally speaking, there are two ways to go about boosting your AOV:

1. Encourage visitors to add more items to their carts than they intended to buy
2. Prompt them to upgrade to a higher-priced product

This post offers ideas for doing both.

Free Shipping/Expedited-Shipping Threshold

Offering a free-shipping threshold is a big driver for increasing AOV (assuming you don’t offer free shipping automatically). Here’s how it works. Let’s say your AOV is $50, and you want to increase it by 10 – 15%. You can offer free shipping on any orders that are $65 or more.

If you already offer free shipping you can prompt customers to spend a little extra to get expedited-shipping, such as next-day delivery for all orders above $65.

We find these tactics are incredibly motivating to the consumer for a very good reason: more of their dollars are spent on actual products, not shipping. As an added bonus, these offers give you another opportunity to reach out and touch your customer, which is always a good thing to do. Emails announcing such promotions tend to deliver the best conversion rates.

Promote Product Discovery of Complementary Items

Another approach is to create bundles or kits of products that are complementary to one another (e.g. KitchenAid stand mixer + spiralizer attachment or printer + color ink cartridges). Your AOV will go up if customers buy accessories at the time they purchase a particular item.

One way to sell complementary products is increase product discovery (think Amazon’s Frequently Purchased Together functionality). You can do this is a number of different ways. For instance, you can have a physical kit that, when purchased, comes with a discount on one of the items, such as, buy this printer + color ink cartridge and get paper at 50% off.

Or, you can bundle complementary products across multiple categories —  workout DVD, exercise pants, and protein shakes — into a kit that’s presented to consumers who came to your site to purchase, say, a work out DVD.

You can also incentivize these promotions and increase product discovery at the same time. Let’s say you have an area of your catalog that doesn’t see a lot of sales. For the sake of this example, let’s say it’s your outdoor gear category. And let’s assume that the items in your outdoor gear section have a higher price point. To promote product discovery and increase AOV, you can run a promotion that says, ”Take 10% off all outdoor gear when you purchase a pair of shoes (or other categories your site is known for).”

A word of caution, use AOV promotions sparingly. Free-shipping thresholds and buy-one-get-one-free offers will eat into your profit margins. Worse, you may inadvertently turn a loyal customer into a less frequent one, and if that happens, you risk losing that customer to a competitor. In other words, offering three months worth of vitamins at a discount will certainly increase the AOV of that particular sale, but now your customer has no need to return to your site for 90 days. In the meantime, a competitor’s site may catch his or her eye.

AOV strategies work best when you encourage customers to buy items they didn’t know they wanted via cross-category promotions. This approach ensures you don’t trade in long term value for short-term success.

Long-Term Ways of Boosting AOV

The promotional route for incentivizing AOV plays to a customer’s sense of urgency. There are other tactics that don’t rely on promotions. Top of the list is to re-evaluate the way you categorize your products and highlight product discovery.

Earlier I mentioned kitting or selling complementary products in bundles. In my opinion, this should become your everyday, de facto, merchandising approach because it more closely resembles a physical retail store. Brick-and-mortar stores present a lot more items in your field of view, which is why we often go to the pharmacy for shampoo but walk out with bags full of additional items. You can increase your AOV by mimicking that in-store experience of presenting consumers with products they wouldn’t typically search for themselves.

Of course, you can’t stuff too many products onto your homepage or landing pages, so you need to find creative ways to present customers with items they wouldn’t have previously considered.

One way to do that is through a product-based Welcome Series, which are non-promotional emails that help customers better understand the products they’ve already purchased and are likely to be actively using. Let’s say I purchase a workout DVD. The first day I may receive an email that describes strategies for making time in my day for a daily work out. On day 5 I may receive another email discussing the effects I may be feeling by working out daily, and suggest, in a non-promotional way, a complementary product, such as an elixir for achy muscles.

Welcome Series emails can work as long as content is journey based, highly relevant and engaging.

Create Good, Better, Best Option

Another way to increase AOV, especially for retailers that manufacture their own products, is to offer products at a range of price points so that shoppers who buy more higher priced items will have a reason to shop from you. We see this in retail all the time. For example, Converse makes low cost sneakers for Target shoppers, as well as high-priced custom-collaboration shoes that sell for hundreds of dollars. It’s the same brand creating products for a range of people who have different sensibilities and expectations.

If you’re a large enough company, you can boost your AOV by offering good, better, best type options. This approach allows you to offer a catalog of products that appeal to the upper end of the market, as well as give people the option to buy up (assuming you can provide a compelling story as to why they should do so).

Live Chat

Finally, If you offer live chat on your site, consider deploying your chat specialists to upsell orders. For instance, you can deploy automatic invitations to chat with a product specialist on your high price point product pages (e.g. “Not sure which laptop is right for you? Our laptop specialists can help.”) The specialist can assist the customer in selecting a laptop, as well as suggest additional accessories, such as a laptop case and spare battery, to increase the value of orders placed.

Need help increasing your AOV or looking for new ideas to get that higher AOV? Contact us and let SD help you!

Written By: Phillip Jackson, Ecommerce Evangelist

 

Magento Master

Congrats 3x Magento Master Phillip Jackson

Our Ecommerce Evangelist, Phillip Jackson was named a Magento Master: Mover for the third year in a row.

Movers are Magento’s top advocates and ecosystem thought leaders who have demonstrated their expertise in driving innovation through Magento solutions.

Phillip was selected as a Magento Master for 2018 based on his 2017 contributions through organizing the Magento SoFla Meetup, hosts Nomad Mage and hosts the successful podcasts MagetalkFuture Commerce and Merchant to Merchant, with over 50,000 monthly listeners. He is also the co-host of SD’s own SD Office Hours for Magento—a bi-weekly webinar answer LIVE Q&A about the Magento platform and ecosystem.

Movers are influencers in the industry in delivering best-of-class Magento implementations and advocate for Magento at industry events.*

We’re so proud of Phillip and the other Masters: Movers named for 2018!

You can meet the other Magento Master: Movers here.

(*Source – Magento Blog)