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Q&A: Emma Sahota, Managing Director, Astound Commerce UK

Astound’s team of more than 1,300 experts in Growth, Design, Demand and Technology partner with top technology providers such as Salesforce, Shopify and Magento to implement… View Article


Q&A: Emma Sahota, Managing Director, Astound Commerce UK

Astound’s team of more than 1,300 experts in Growth, Design, Demand and Technology partner with top technology providers such as Salesforce, Shopify and Magento to implement the best possible solutions for their clients of leading brands and retailers worldwide.

What does your company do?/ What is your USP?

Astound Commerce builds digital commerce experiences for global brands and retailers that fuel revenue growth and loyalty at every stage of the customer buying journey.  Astound’s team of more than 1,300 experts in Growth, Design, Demand and Technology partner with top technology providers such as Salesforce, Shopify and Magento to implement the best possible solutions for their clients of leading brands and retailers worldwide.  With 20+ years of experience and over 3,000 successful digital commerce projects completed, Astound has developed a proven model for enabling innovative brands like Hobbycraft, FatFace, Aromatherapy Associates, L’Oréal and Louis Vuitton to optimise their digital ecosystem and maximise value for every shopper, at every touchpoint.

What’s special about the platform and your approach?

Astound’s Growth services serve as the foundation of the company’s model and inform the strategy behind every brand engagement.  We’re known for our full-service digital commerce capabilities, including Design, Demand and Technology, as well as our relationships with top platform providers, which allow us to deliver best-in-class solutions.  In addition, all brand engagements are supported by data intelligence – both consumer trend metrics and brand-specific insights from proprietary research tools – to better tailor our consulting services and ultimately enable clients to grow existing sales channels or identify new revenue opportunities.

What does a product/ service implementation actually look like and how do you measure success?

Each project begins with an in-depth consultation process, which is designed to forensically analyse the businesses’ specific challenges and roadmap a clear path to elevate the online customer experience.  Implementation varies depending on the business’ needs and bespoke requirements, but Astound’s core capabilities include:

Design – We’re experts at streamlining the customer journey to create captivating and convenient paths to purchase across channels – forging lasting relationships between brands and their customers through modern omnichannel experiences, user-friendly design, and rich visuals.

Demand – With deep knowledge of how to engage and convert consumers before, at and after the “buy” button, we foster a cohesive advertising experience across channels.  We take a data-driven approach to capturing demand, continuously iterating based on consumer insights to help brands convert casual customers and enhance loyalty with their most valuable advocates.

Technology – We customise scalable, fully integrated, cross-cloud ecosystems to fit each client’s industry, sales model, and ideal customer.  Through advanced technologies and our relationships with top platform providers, we help brands refine their ecommerce stack, create more efficient workflows and adapt to business and customer needs as they evolve.

How are retailers using your system to gain competitive advantage and what does best practice look like?  Can you share a case study with us?

Astound has helped brands increase their revenue by up to 300 percent.  To date, we have completed more than 3,000 digital commerce projects and launched over 400 websites end-to-end, building digital storefronts that generated nearly $10 billion in revenue last year alone.

Our team recently delivered a launch for British wellness brand, Aromatherapy Associates, that wanted to provide its customers with the immersive brand experience needed to meet its goal to be a direct-to-consumer (DTC) market leader in the wellness category.  Our team designed a beautiful site that captures the brand’s aesthetic and positions it as a leader in the industry with premium features, such as bundling functionality, gifts with purchase and a custom blend finder, that elevates the customer experience beyond the competition.  By leveraging our internal accelerator for Shopify Plus, we optimised the replatform process and accelerated time to market, completing the build and launching in under three months—creating a future-proof platform that eases pressure on internal teams and supports robust DTC growth.

Are there other companies you partner with?

Central to our market-leading position is a solid bedrock of high-value partnership with the world’s leading technology providers with key partners Salesforce, Shopify and Magento.  In addition, we have an extensive network of ISV partners because it’s our core belief that innovation is born out of collaboration and delivering a market-leading ecommerce solution can’t be done in isolation.

What challenges and opportunities do you see in UK retail for 2023/ What challenges are retailers facing in 2023?

The global ecommerce industry is growing rapidly in response to permanent pandemic-era shifts in consumer behaviour.  Today, digital commerce is much more than a sales channel – it’s the primary way in which a growing number of consumers are discovering and engaging with their favourite brands.  However, in 2023 a saturated market means customer loyalty is even harder to earn, but more important than ever to keep.  If brands fail to deliver an authentic, user-friendly experience, consumers will simply shop elsewhere.

 How will you address these challenges and turn them into success?

A positive customer experience is a catalyst for loyalty, which is the key to enabling sustained, long-term growth.  To create that level of value, brands must build the infrastructure to support a cohesive and consistent customer experience at every touchpoint, whether online or in-store.  But connecting the right pieces to power such an experience is a complex – and constantly evolving – endeavour.  It requires a thorough understanding of new digital strategies and technologies in order to successfully engage and convert today’s mobile, socially connected consumers.

What is on the horizon for you as a company? First and foremost, we will remain customer-focused, and we’re now bringing that laser focus to a new area: AI. The brands we work with are of course very intrigued by the promise that the emerging technologies dominating today’s headlines hold, as a means of optimising their operations and driving revenue. What we feel is equally important is achieving a deep understanding of how consumers are themselves adapting to these technologies. It is those adaptations—and the new trends in consumer behaviour we’re observing as a result—that inform the strategic roadmaps we develop for the businesses we partner with.

For one client, we’re in the process of adding an augmented reality component to the brand’s customer experience that has the potential to dramatically improve that experience, accelerate the customer decision-making process, and reduce returns—all significant revenue drivers. Before arriving at this solution, we  studied the client’s business and led them to an innovation that fits the behaviour and preferences of their #1 customer target, and then developed an integration plan that complements their long-term roadmap. We look forward to applying that same approach with our other client-partners that wish to remain competitive in the face of unprecedented innovation.

To find out how they can help your retail operation, click here to visit Astound Commerce UK.

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