Salsify Buys Alkemics - Why It's a Big Deal (and Why Sitation is Excited About It!)

by Steve Engelbrecht
Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Salsify took a bold step into the future this week in announcing its acquisition of Alkemics, a product data onboarding platform headquartered in Paris.

Alkemics dubs itself "the supplier collaboration platform for omnichannel retailers" - in other words, it's the connective tissue from the supply chain into the enterprise, providing tools that help suppliers to quickly and easily publish their data into a retailer or distributor catalog. This is a big, ugly problem and something their platform addresses very effectively, with more than 20,000 brands and dozens of retailers currently onboarded.

Salsify is already an e-commerce juggernaut, raising $155M in a Series E round in 2020, building a team of 500+ employees (including a rapidly-growing global salesforce), attracting world-class executive leadership, and ushering in huge growth with new subscribers - a trend Sitation is proud to participate in as a key implementation partner.

This acquisition is important because it brings together two best-in-class platforms to further expand Salsify's appeal. While Salsify already has an outstanding market fit, a simplified approach to vendor data onboarding has been, in my opinion, a key missing ingredient in its product.

As a PIM services provider with many years' experience in retail and distribution, we know a thing or two about supplier onboarding and the importance of effective data, content, and digital asset processes. So needless to say, we're excited about this news!

Here are a few reasons why:

Product Data Onboarding is Ugly

As anyone who has lived the digital merchandising life knows, onboarding suppliers (and supplier data) is a really hard problem, and in the world of retail and distribution, the supplier experience is usually an afterthought.

Many retailers and distributors have hundreds, or even thousands of suppliers - each one must be onboarded and trained on the specifics of the data model (data typing, required fields, categories, digital asset requirements, etc.). Data is usually uploaded via spreadsheets (and item setup templates), which introduces all kinds of nightmares with version control. Having a tool that helps to ingest and review data before it gets into the PIM is always wise, and simplifying and automating this process reduces time, which reduces cost.

This is great for both suppliers and retailers/distributors - a huge synergy in this investment. And of course, better data means better online experiences for end users, which lead to increased conversions.

New Capabilities for Retailers and Distributors

As Salsify calls out in its announcement, "Retailers require cross-supply chain workflows and analytics to enable the rapid onboarding and collaboration at scale across hundreds or thousands of suppliers." As the lines between brand/manufacturer and retailer/distributor are blurred, and as the appeal of marketplaces grow, simple, efficient workflows are critical to operating at scale. This means a reduction (and eventually elimination) of manual processes, and the availability of real-time data to support agile decision making.

In the retail and distribution world, this brings a potential for big savings, and huge advantages to early movers who are best able to leverage the new capabilities.

A Little Convergence is Good for PIM

I've posted before about how the e-commerce world is mostly pivoting away from monolithic platforms that do it all (PIM, commerce, search, fulfillment, etc.) in favor of microservices. But there are some notable exceptions - Shopify, for instance, has grown so quickly in no small part because of its easy to use "one stop" approach to micro-retail. Salsify, similarly, will benefit from reducing the number of point solutions required to effectively use its platform.

Efficient data onboarding is a huge hurdle for PIM platforms; this not only makes Salsify easier to buy and easier to use, but it further places it in competition with some of the existing enterprise players like Informatica and Stibo, which are traditionally much more expensive to implement and operate.

Salsify's Expansion into Europe

Salsify is already global, but adoption has been strongest in the US. Strategically, this move gives Salsify a major boost to its EMEA operations, not only to serve a global client base, but specifically to serve multinational brands and conglomerates. This strikes me as extremely prudent given our increasingly connected world and the competing priorities of a global supply chain and market-specific localization - big challenges for the world's largest brands and manufacturers.

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I will post more as we continue to learn about the planned integration of the Alkemics and Salsify platforms. We look forward to seeing the new capabilities and implementing the combined products for our customers very soon!

Until then, we congratulate our partners at Salsify, and welcome our new colleagues joining from Alkemics. Looking forward to exciting times ahead!

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