The mood at the hot sales time 2020

The mood at the hot sales time 2020

Black Friday, Christmas time and Corona

What is the mood in
e-commerce in this very special year?

Opinions are divided on Black Friday 2020. Some are pessimistic, especially after the price comparison portal Idealo found out in a survey that two out of three consumers want to spend less money on Black Friday this year than in 2019. 75% of those surveyed now want to think particularly carefully about whether they really need a product. And they also immediately provided a reason for this: for a good tenth of those surveyed, the financial situation has worsened over the course of 2020 due to the pandemic. (Source: Welt.de)

77% intend to make a purchase on Black Friday

So much for the negative side. On the other hand, we see the survey of the market research company Appinio, in which 77% of respondents stated that they intend to shop on Black Friday, which would be an increase of 16.7% compared to the previous year. The survey also revealed that a slightly higher budget would be planned for Black Friday shopping (source: appinio.com).

In any case, 69% of respondents plan to store online and avoid visiting local stores, especially at the current time, when infection figures continue to show an upward trend.

41% want to shop online more than before

The same applies to Christmas shopping: A representative survey conducted by IFH Cologne in collaboration with service providers Sitecore and Ecx.io. revealed that one in two wants to avoid the crowds in the city center when hunting for Christmas presents. 41% of respondents even said they will shop online more than before. (Source: Internet World)

Feedback from our customers

So we are naturally very interested to know what the mood is among our customers and how this year differs from previous years. To our delight, they are quite positive!

Atelier GS, for example, is more likely to see an increase as they are able to implement the learnings generated in recent years. Nina Klöhn, Online Marketing Manager Atelier Goldner Schnitt: “Overall, however, it is of course a difficult time, as our target group in particular is strongly affected by the pandemic.” For their female customers, they have come up with something special. Nina Klöhn: “To be close to our female customers during this time and to entertain them, we have also introduced a new video magazine.”

Atelier Goldner Schnitt
Hirmer

At Hirmer, Annette Fabisiewicz, Head of E-Commerce Marketing, is looking forward to this time with excitement: “In 2020, it is all the more important for us to expand our Black Friday offer online and thus be able to offer our users even better deals. This year, everything is different! So of course we are very excited to see how this will be received by our customers.”

There is no sign of negativity in the Witt Group either. “On the whole, nothing is different and the mood is almost as usual, only this year from the home office,” report Theresa Hösl (Junior Marketing Manager) and Tina Lebegern (Junior Marketing Manager) from the Witt Group. So for this time again some actions are planned, among other things a 13 days long Pre-Sale in the on-line marketing channels and afterwards for 2 weeks the regular Black Sale. Also as in the last years, there will be an advent calendar with 24 doors with different topics like sales promotions, content or assortment actions.

Witt Weiden

The hot sales season has kicked off, customers can look forward to great deals and e-commerce can look forward to good sales. We wish everyone every success!

1 year project manager at Picalike

Projektmanager

A little over a year ago, the picalike team decided that they would like to have a project manager. Since then, a lot has happened: internal restructuring, a spontaneous switch to 90 percent mobile working due to Corona, and a move to betahaus Hamburg. It’s exciting to hear what this challenging time was like for Maik Kade.

Projektmanager

Hey Maik, phew, how time flies! You've been a project manager with us for a year now. What was your best experience during this time?

A year goes by really fast. It’s hard for me to find a single, most beautiful experience. From a professional point of view, certainly that after only 3 months I was told by C.E.O.. Sebastian told me that he almost regretted not having brought me on board as project manager some time before. For me, as a career changer, this was very reassuring, as it gave me the confirmation that I had become well acquainted with my new area of responsibility and that it was something I could do. Overall, though, it’s more like I’m happy to be part of the picalike family every day.

A lot has changed since you started here. What change/new feature are you most excited about?

I am especially happy that together we have managed to build a very agile framework for our development team, which works hand in hand in collaboration with all other stakeholders. The agile idea has certainly always been a part of picalike, but in the last year we have managed to bring this hidden diamond in the rough out of our soil and give it the right polish.

You mainly coordinate the development teams. What are the biggest challenges? And how do you master them?

For me, the biggest hurdle was that I am a linguist and former lecturer, and the technical side, the know-how of a development team, was and sometimes still is something I know little about. How do you master the task of assisting a team with project management when you yourself have no say at all on the technical level? By taking a deep breath and realizing that such in-depth knowledge is not at all necessary for my job, even if I personally don’t like it from time to time because I would like to understand everything. But that is not what my job as a project manager is about.

I see myself as the symbolic grease in the gears. When everything is going well, I’m hardly noticed at all. But in order to keep everything running smoothly, it’s important that everyone knows what the others are doing, what they can do, and where help may be needed. So it’s all about communication.

I enable and encourage communication. I always have an open ear for everyone, even for private matters. Employees are people, not machines. I am present in almost all planning meetings: often as a moderator, sometimes as a mediator, and again and again I like to be the person in the company who, for example, is allowed to ask the “stupid” questions in commit meetings. Just the questions that a specialist sometimes doesn’t ask, but which can nevertheless reveal problems and solutions. My lack of knowledge occasionally forces the team to change their perspective.

Furthermore, knowledge exchange and documentation are two areas of communication that are elementary for a development team. In our company, knowledge and documentation are not hoarded individually, but as a collective treasure that has to be gathered together. But this has to be organized, it should not be boring and, above all, it should not be time-consuming. As a didact, I am challenged to find the best way to do this.

After your first few months, the Corona pandemic hit Germany, a very challenging time for project managers... How was the transition to a home office handled?

Surprisingly, this was less challenging in our case than we had all assumed. Before the pandemic started, we had a very soft version of remote working. There were some who worked remotely one day a week or every two weeks. But otherwise, we were always in the office. However, since we had been looking for a new location since the beginning of the year, there were always slight thoughts of working more remotely.

When the pandemic broke out, Sebastian, our CEO, asked us openly how we wanted to deal with the situation. Everyone was in favor of mobile working, at least for now. The basic requirements were there: every employee already had a laptop and accessories. It was just clarified whether anyone needed anything special still for the home office, such as office chairs. We are a small, very dynamic team that, by the very nature of our products, is used to constantly adapting to changing situations.

I think we can count ourselves among the lucky few whose workday may have actually gotten better as a result of the pandemic, and who probably won’t want to and won’t go back to their old workday even after it’s over. That is quite a privilege for which I am more than grateful.

Thank you very much for the interview and your always open ear. I hope you continue to enjoy your work here at Picalike!

Picalike and the betahaus Hamburg

betahaus Hamburg

From our preppy, conservative offices with conference room and kitchen, where almost once a week our boss cooked for the whole team, we moved to betahaus Hamburg in the summer. Several reasons led to this. Now we are very happy about it, as this super flexible way of working fits so much better to our spirit. You could already get a small impression of it in our article “Our new office”, but now I would like to introduce betahaus to you in more detail and tell you about the philosophy behind it. In Hamburg, betahaus operates betahaus in Sternschanze and since 2019 “finhaven by betahaus” in Hafencity. We are in the Schanze.

Picalike und das betahaus Hamburg 2

©Janine Meyer Photography

The building

In very simple terms, betahaus is a co-working space founded in 2010. The 2500 square meters are spread over 4 floors, with about 34 offices in different sizes (for 4 to 8 employees), 4 areas with several tables for flexible working (flex spaces), small kitchens, 10 phone boxes, 3 workshop rooms, 6 meeting rooms, a café and a lounge. In addition, betahaus 1 offers remote studio for podcast, green screen and webinar productions, underground parking, separate bicycle parking, ramps and toilet for wheelchair users and a terrace. Space for meet-ups and evening events is also offered here. So, a lot of space where you can work even if you don’t necessarily want to sit in your own office. Or if there are more team members on site than can fit in the office.

Picalike und das betahaus Hamburg 3

The Community

You can feel the vibe here in the hallways, where you meet freelancers as well as teams from startups or smaller companies. Until recently, there was even a midwifery practice here. Here, you never know what field your counterpart is in, as the members are very cross-industry. The work is concentrated, but at the same time there is a lot of exchange – whether in the Slack channel, in the café, at the foosball table, in yoga classes or in the coffee kitchen. Sometimes in chance encounters, sometimes in planned meetings. And that was also the original idea: Instead of every freelancer sitting at his/her desk at home while the ceiling falls on his/her head or he/she easily gets lonely, which is the main problem of lone fighters working alone at home, he/she can work here in a professional environment. In addition, he/she is integrated into an active community.

Picalike und das betahaus Hamburg 4

©Janine Meyer Photography

Teelke Meyer, Head of Community Management at betahaus, described it very aptly: “It’s like having colleagues but no boss. Colleagues you choose yourself.” And of course, it’s also about networking, finding contacts with whom you can exchange ideas, who inspire you, and whom you can help out yourself. As the slogan on the homepage says, “The community makes the difference. Every man for himself was yesterday.” In general, the exchange of knowledge is very important here. For example, if a member gets stuck, he or she is welcome to post a question in the Slack channel. Given the great diversity of the members, someone will (almost) always/often have an answer. In general, it’s easy to find people here who you can ask for something, whether it’s a charging cable or specialist advice.Teelke Meyer, “I’ve always wanted to work somewhere where I come home smarter in the evening than when I left in the morning. Where I learn simply by having gone to work. I got that here at betahaus.”

Picalike und das betahaus Hamburg 5

©Janine Meyer Photography

You quickly feel welcome here, as the betahaus management attaches great importance to getting to know each individual personally. However, you also get to know each other at an onboarding or during the betahaus tour. In addition, there are happenings such as the beta breakfast (which is open to the public and can be attended by anyone) and the beta lunch, although this is only for the beta house community.

The own workplace

What the workplace looks like for you personally depends entirely on your own preferences. The four memberships offered by Betahaus are very different. The first is the Club membership, which includes the Flexdesk area, community events, global roaming, opening hours (Mon – Fri | 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.) and a 10% discount on drinks at the bar. Next is the Professional membership with Flexdesk Open Space, Community Events, Global Roaming, 24/7 access, 5 conference room hours per month, locker, mailbox, premium space and community rates at events.

Picalike und das betahaus Hamburg 6

©Janine Meyer Photography

The Fixed Desk Membership includes a dedicated, fixed workspace, community events, global roaming, 24/7 access, 5 conference room hours per month, locker, mailbox, community kitchen, and community pricing at events. And last but not least, Team Office Membership: self-contained office with 4 to 8 workstations, fully furnished, community events, global roaming, 24/7 access, conference room hours, mailbox, premium space, community pricing at events.

Picalike und das betahaus Hamburg 7

©Franziska Weiß

For us, this working environment is just perfect, as we have the advantages of our own office with a few fixed desks, postal address, kitchen and conference room. But it’s a smaller office, because that’s all we need, since most of the time we work in our home office. And when we are all on site at the same time, which happens twice a month, we enjoy the conference in the large arena, the cozy get-together in the café and the concentrated work in the well-equipped flex areas, where we can sit together as we wish.

As Betahaus says so well? You’ll never work alone!

Information extraction from websites (focus on product details)

Information extraction from websites

Last Tuesday, a crowd of software developers and data specialists gathered in our company to listen to the words and tips of Timo Schulz. Timo is a former employee of Picalike and now a consultant at ITGAIN Consulting. As a specialist for artificial intelligence and in particular machine learning, deep learning and data processing, Timo advises companies on advanced analytics and AI.

The topic of the workshop, which was attended by 20 participants from different industry sectors, was “Information extraction from websites with a focus on product details”. In other words, how do you get structured data from unstructured texts?

The first part of the workshop dealt with the theory: From RegEx to Neural Networks Timo tried to explain the topic text analysis and text mining to the interested tech professionals and to clarify which problems can be encountered with product texts in e-commerce. After a short break, it was time to get down to business: The laptop keys were actively typed with many “hands-on” examples and a lively exchange took place on learned techniques and new application examples with many tips and tricks.

Afterwards we had a cool beer and a delicious pizza and I had the chance to ask the workshop participants and Timo a few questions.

Interview with Timo Schulz

I’ve always wanted to get more out of data.

 

Where to find which product data and how to process them in a structured way

Where to find which product data and how to process them in a structured way

Why did you decide to work in artificial intelligence?
Already in 2005, during my computer science studies, I started to work with data. I’ve always wanted to get more out of data and did a lot of research in this area. But then I wanted to get out of research and put my knowledge and technology into practice. That’s how I came to Picalike.

Then why did you go to consulting later?
I wanted to get out of the e-commerce business at some point. It was very exhausting and nerve-wracking to bring the technology close to the companies. Often the companies were convinced by the product, the technology, that it worked, but then it partly failed because of political decisions within the company or there was no far-reaching understanding for it. Of course, it is difficult to remain highly motivated. In consulting, I can now advance AI in all areas and show companies without pressure what is possible and how they can implement AI in their companies.

You often have to do a lot of convincing.

What challenges do you see for e-commerce in terms of AI?
The biggest challenge is actually to correctly recognize and assess the potential of AI. And the acceptance: The company has to recognize for itself what AI can do for itself, i.e. for the company. You often have to do a lot of convincing.

Has there ever been a case where you advised a company not to use AI?
No, not really, because AI is so versatile. But sometimes you have to be careful that AI is not just seen as a trend. According to the motto: “We absolutely have to do something with AI now”. Here it is often sufficient to simply structure the existing data in the company better and to see what we can already get out of this data.

As a consultant you should always stay up to date. How and where do you find out about the industry, about new developments in the field?
As far as possible, I dedicate a whole day to research. I read a lot about the topic, follow blogs, listen to lectures by people I follow and then try to implement my own use case as a prototype. So I can then decide whether this approach makes sense in my eyes, whether the topic should be pursued further or not.

The tech professionals are eagerly listening to KI guru Timo Schulz

The tech professionals are eagerly listening to KI guru Timo Schulz

And which trends are exciting at the moment? Where is the journey going?
I think everything about NLU or NLP (Natural Language Understanding or Natural Language Processing, editor’s note) is very interesting and a lot will happen here.

Speaking of language comprehension: I recently read that it has not yet been possible to teach artificial intelligence humor. Is that right?
Yes, it’s not that easy indeed. When, for example, the customer rating in an online shop says: “The shoe is huge, like a VW van.” Then we understand: “Okay, the shoe is most likely quite big. And it was just a bit more fun to paraphrase it.” But the AI would actually compare the shoe with the size of a VW bus. AI just doesn’t think any further. Another example: Jan goes into his bedroom and gets his ball. Then he goes into the garden and puts the ball on the floor. Where is the ball? For the AI it is not clear that the ball is now in the garden.

I heard from a reliable source that you used to be a Picalike beer ambassador. What is your favorite beer and why?
Clearly Sierra Nevada Torpedo. Ken Grossman is a hero! He revolutionized the art of brewing beer. In the 80s he went to Germany and bought a copper brewery there, which he then took back to California. And from then on the beer became simply unbeatable. They use whole hop cones for the beer, not just hop extract as others do, and produce part of their energy themselves via solar energy. When the big California campfires happened, Sierra Nevada brewed a special beer and donated all the proceeds to the victims of the fire

Interviews with the workshop participants

Interview with Lennart from Shopping24.com

 

Interview with Lennart from Shopping24

Interview with Lennart from Shopping24

What is your position at Shopping24?

I am Search Engine Linguistic Manager.

And what exactly do you do in your job?
I help with the processing of search queries. What do users enter as search terms and I take a look at what, for example, linguistically all around it must be captured in order to output the best possible search results.

Why are you in this workshop?
Since I also deal with product texts in my job, I find it interesting to see how information can be extracted there.

Which topics for further workshops would be interesting for you?
In general, I am interested in product search challenges. For example, insights from other website operators who are also involved in product search would be interesting. What challenges do they have and how do they solve certain problems?

Interview with Sarah from AdSoul

What’s your position at AdSoul?
I am a linguist.

And what exactly do you do in your job?
I break down keywords and try to cluster them. A grammatical processing of keywords so to speak.

Why are you here? What are you interested in the workshop for?
First you have to explain what AdSoul does. AdSoul is active in the field of SEM and takes care of automated search engine marketing. Already at university I was involved in text mining and the preparation of data and texts. The goal of AdSoul is basically to create automated text ads sometime. That’s why data extraction is so interesting for me.

Interview with Marc-Olaf from OGDS

What’s your position on the OGDS?
I am a software developer.

And what exactly do you do in your job?
The OGDS is a Company Builder. We identify new and attractive business ideas and build prototypes for them. We provide the operation, the infrastructure and the architecture for these prototypes and I develop the software for them. So basically we provide a technical solution in the area of e-commerce.

Why are you here? What interests you about the workshop?
I’m interested in extracting from texts and I’m interested in what other people are doing in this area, what new ideas are there in this area.

Did you like the workshop and if so, what exactly?
I was primarily here for the exchange, not so much to educate myself professionally because I already know this topic very well. But I think Timo explained the subject very well and captured the breadth of the topic well. This enabled me to draw out interesting ideas and, in part, new perspectives.

Which topics for further workshops would be interesting for you?
I am always very project-driven. At the moment I am very interested in the topic extraction of data from pictures. Therefore I am also happy if I can exchange myself with Picalike on this topic.

Interview with Erwin from Shopping24.com

 

Interview with Erwin from Shopping24

Interview with Erwin from Shopping24.com

What is your position at Shopping24?
I am a Java developer.

And what exactly do you do in your job?
I prepare product data in e-commerce. I take care of the product search at Shopping24 and the support of the back-end systems.

Why are you here? What interests you about the workshop?
On the one hand, I’m here to expand my own knowledge. On the other hand, at Shopping24 we use product feeds. The aim here could be to extract text from external websites without feeds.

Editor’s note: The interviews were recorded in a protocol format.