The SKOBS Layer – or: why back end systems don’t matter (for the consumer)

What the heck is SKOBS? SKOBS stands for: Some Kind Of Back end Systems.

I came up with the term in a pitch with a client that had an awful lot of back end systems. and since he always had troubles to integrate with new software I wanted to make clear, that the system we developed at do not care about the back end systems a lot. For our platform it’s just important that we get the data we need from somewhere. Why did we go for that approach? The folks behind the platform made a lot of ecommerce projects and therefore know a lot about the pain of integrating with back ends. So one idea of the platform was that it needed an outstanding independence from the back end systems to create an abstraction layer that is able to do all kind of things. That approach has two major advantages. We can act fast and work with data that already exists. And the front end can stay the same even if the customer changes the back end systems down the road.



The future of retail – what fundamentally changed in the last decades

I recently talked at a TEDx salon about the future of retail shopping. In preparation of the talk I was wondering about a very simple question I wanted to answer in the presentation: what was the biggest change for the retail merchants in the last two decades?

Ok, “online” is the obvious, yet easy answer. And I think it’s too simple to answer what happened and will happen with the retail domain. I think what really changed (dramatically) is the playground the merchants act in.

The internet made something possible which wasn’t even imaginable two decades ago. It cracked up a playground that was until then very well defined and slowly moving. The stakes in the high streets and city centres were set and the retailers had their business. Changes of property happened just once in a while. Players entering or leaving the market were pretty rare.


Brick and mortar is not dead yet

I originally posted this article on back in march 2013. Interestingly the message and facts didn’t change at all. So I thought it’s worth getting it over here and rework it.

Lately there seems to be a lot of discussion around the death of the physical retail store. Some prophets are saying that e-commerce will eat them all.

Sorry, but I don’t agree here. In my opinion e-commerce is “just” another game changer for retail merchants. Ok, a huge and fast one. But back in history there was always some gamechanger in retail and with it always the vision of retail doomsday of some sort. Mailorder was there to destroy local retailers. TV shopping also. Discount as well. The huge malls were the prediction of small shops going down. And so on. Make some research yourself.


The mobile paradoxon – how merchants lose their turnover

I visited some of the German ecommerce trade fairs that take place every year. Lately I spoke on the Meet Magento 2014 in Leipzig about the impact of mobile commerce on ecommerce and commerce in general. You can find my slides an slideshare (in German).

I was amazed by the feedback from the session and talked the whole day to merchants and developers about the future of commerce. And everyone agreed more or less to my opinion, that mobile (smartphone and tablets) are just the beginning.

The really interesting part is that most online merchants are still in what I charted as the past. Most shops are built for desktop computers only. Some try to catch up and optimize for smartphones, even less optimize for tablets. And honestly I don’t get it because every merchant I talked to in the last 12 months has already 20% (or more) visitors coming in via mobile devices. But still the merchants are pretty slow in adopting and optimizing. Imagine you have a brick and mortar store. The situation is like you don’t allow every fifth customer to come inside your store for shopping.