Keeping Up With Colect - Adjacent Technologies

In this new edition of #KeepingUpWithColect, we sat down with 3 of our tech experts to discuss their thoughts on the adjacent technologies that are currently in Colect’s scope, and how they could add value to our products and customers. Think of advanced search engines, 3D and even AI.

  • Who: Pim Stolk (CTO), Michiel Tol (CMO) and Aron Vas Visser (Product Manager)

First things first, what are Adjacent Technologies?

Pim: “I consider that at Colect we’re very good at building stuff ourselves. We know the market very well, and if we hear needs from our customers multiple times, we validate their impact, and if they add value, we build them. On the other hand, sometimes it can also be a strategy to not build something but to look into what the market is offering. If there’s someone who is doing something different than us as a core business and can do it better than we will ever do, we’ll look into integrating with these parties to bring value to our product and customers; that is adjacent technology. For example, AI search models, like Algolia.”

Aron: “Adjacent technologies are, most of the time, niche players, so we find a partner that’s very good with their tech, validate that our clients need it, and then integrate with that party. We do that to not overstress our own development teams and integrate faster to be able to deliver to our customers sooner.”

You mentioned Algolia, can you tell us more about it and are there other adjacent technologies in Colect’s radar?

Michiel: “Algolia is an AI tool for more advanced search with dedicated rules. This means that you tweak the results of your search with rules like “I don’t want to have these words or I want to have different sorting”. That kind of detailed search logic is supported by algorithm search.

Another one is Klaviyo, an email marketing suite. I think it’s one of the most interesting ones. It provides a way of email marketing generally used in B2C but that can also be used in the B2B space. By integrating such a tool with Colect, customers can have more segmented email campaigns based on retailer activity. For example, if a retailer has not logged into the Brand Portal for a while, you can trigger an email series to welcome them back to the Portal. Another adjacent technology is content management tooling. It’s not something we currently have, but we are looking into providing more flexible content within the Brand Portal. More images, more videos which are not product related, but can be brand related.”

Is Colect already working with or testing these adjacent technologies?

Aron: “We are doing a Proof of Concept (POC) of Algolia with one of our customers. They came to us with the tool because they believed it could add value to our B2B environment. Therefore we partnered up and we’re currently testing it. We aim to offer best-of-breed solutions and everything we do will be tested to see if it adds value to our customers”.

Michiel: “In the POC with Algolia we aim to measure how much the current search converges into order sales for the customer we’re testing it with. Then we’re going to implement Algolia’s search algorithm which is more advanced and we’re going to measure those results to see if it increases sales, has better findability and has a higher frequency of use. And if that is the case, then it proves the partner adds value on a business level.”

Pim: “We haven’t done a POC with Klaviyo yet, but we did do a Proof of Technology, which means we saw how their tech works integrated into ours, but we still don’t know if it adds the needed value to our customers.”

How does adding these adjacent technologies to the Colect platform benefit the product and the customers?

Michiel: “Take, for instance, search. There is currently a search platform in our system and it’s quite adequate. There’s some basic content management as well, and a way to promote to retailers with order proposals. However, if you are a more advanced customer and you want more, adjacent is the way to go. So we’re not going to hold you back as a customer, we’re going to try to facilitate your drive by linking to the best-of-breed out there.”

There has been a big rave about AI tools like ChatGPT. What do you think about these technologies and could they be beneficial for our products?

Pim: “I’ll give you my personal point of view. I truly believe that AI has the potential to fully transform a couple of industries, but I always live by what scientist Roy Amara said, it’s called Amara’s Law: “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.” I think that for AI this is also true. It looks very promising and can do a lot, but I think it is overhyped right now. The true business impact or the true transformation will only be visible, I think, in a year or more. We all need to get used to this new technology and figure out what it can mean for our businesses. And once we do, we can adapt it, change it and tune the models to achieve its true potential.”

Michiel: “So right now we are seeing what possibilities AI can bring. I think it is a very good link back to adjacent. We believe in adjacent technologies, we believe to have open lines with multiple third-party vendors who can bring additional value to our product. We have some partners that are using AI for their product catalogs, so that means that even if we are not using the tech ourselves, our customers are using it in their business. Then, AI is actually impacting the wholesale fashion industry in some way. For instance, there’s a nice brand that is working a lot with 3D. They can work with an AI company that makes AI models, these are fashion models, ladies, and gentlemen, which are generated by AI and can wear the 3D model clothes.”

Speaking of 3D, how does the Colect Platform work with this technology?

Michiel: “We have several customers experimenting with 3D files, and we want to be able to visually present those in the Hybrid Showroom, Sales App, and Brand Portal in a way that is fast, intuitive, and easy to work with.”

Pim: “I always tell the customers who are experimenting to give us the data, then we run it through our pipeline and we show them what we can do with it. I believe we can educate our customers on 3D content and how this could result in cost savings because it’s less expensive than creating a physical sample. It could also lead to increased efficiency because, well, if you don’t need a physical sample, you can shorten your development cycle for creating a collection. And, finally, it can create an enhanced visual customer experience through either Hybrid Showroom, Sales App and the Brand Portal. That is storytelling, creating a ‘wow effect’. Every time I show 3D to someone on those big Hybrid Showroom screens and we zoom into product details, I always hear “wooooow”.

Michiel: “ERPs and standard B2B’s are not well in presenting collections. We believe that in the Hybrid Showroom and lookbooks supported by the Colect platform, integrating 3D can create a more impressive wholesale journey for clients. 3D is definitely part of the future of presenting collections!

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