Category: News

17 May 2018
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C&S Wholesale Grocers Partner with Engage3

On April 18 to 19, C&S Wholesale Grocers held their 10thannual Tech West Expo at Thunder Valley Resort Casino in Lincoln, CA. Over 100 independent grocery retailers from the West Coast, including Hawaii and Texas, converged at the town Northeast of Sacramento.

Listed by Forbes as the tenth-largest privately held company in the United States, C&S Wholesale Grocers is a wholesale distributor of food and grocery store items with headquarters in Keene, NH.

C&S recently released their strategic retail pricing system and has chosen Engage3 as their partner for competitive retail pricing. “Engage3 IS the premiere partner in retail price information,” said Frank Puleo, VP of Retail Services at C&S.

Engage3 is a leading provider of solutions that help retailers and brands improve their pricing performance and compete more profitably through data science & analytics.

“We have worked with Engage3 for seven to eight years to deliver the best competitive pricing platform in one of our regions. Over the years, we’ve extended that partnership and now we have it on a national level,” noted Corey Quiring, Sr. Director of Corporate Retail Services at C&S.

15 May 2018
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Engage3 COO Edris Bemanian Talks Pricing Strategy, Pressures, and the Market

Last month, Robert Schaulis of Andnowuknow interviewed Engage3 COO Edris Bemanian on his observations of pricing pressures from the likes of Amazon and Lidl. “The biggest trend is that pricing and assortments are becoming more dynamic and localized,” Edris says.  He notes that e-commerce is now becoming a fundamental part of retailers’ strategies versus just a “me too” approach. Read the full article in Andnowuknow.com.

13 Apr 2018
Tech Expo

Engage3 at The C&S Tech Expo 2018

Visit Engage3 at The C&S Tech Expo 2018

Booth #12
April 18 – 19, 2018
Thunder Valley Casino Resort
Lincoln, CA
Hosted by C&S Wholesale Grocers

Edris Bemanian, COO of Engage3, will be a featured speaker on Wednesday, April 18 from 12:00-12:30 pm. He will be sharing his expertise on how retailers can enhance their pricing  performance through machine learning and AI.

26 Mar 2018
MissionControl_Competitive Pricing Platform

What to Look for in a Competitive Pricing Platform

What to Look for in a Competitive Pricing Platform

Precise and Accurate Data

First and foremost, a competitive pricing platform must have the ability to collect precise and accurate pricing data. This allows retailers to target competitive shops, optimize frequency, and specify which items to focus on within regions or individual stores.

Rather than casting a wide net to see what useful data gets brought in, retailers must be able to get a global look at the actions of their competitors while also drilling down to store-specific opportunities. When they have both views, they can see clearly where they are winning and losing. Essentially, such a system puts both a telescope and a microscope into the hands of merchants and their pricing analysts, enabling them to comprehensively study their competitor’s universe. It allows them to reverse-engineer their competitor’s approach to pricing and to develop a targeted response, especially if they see a weakness.

Quality Assurance Workflow

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A strong quality assurance workflow ensures that data being collected is accurate.

A competitive pricing platform must also have a strong quality assurance workflow. With today’s mobile app-enabled technology, automated processes can greatly reduce manual errors and ensure that only quality data is being captured at shelf edge. Additionally, such apps can compare shelf data against historical records, flagging any SKU pricing that seems historically unreasonable. Advanced analytics can assure that the data being captured is accurate in terms of price, brand, sizing, and product attributes. This technology can eliminate much of the human error that has plagued competitive shop programs.

Product Attributes

With the rise of private labels, competitive pricing platforms must be able to compare product attributes. In traditional competitive shop programs, as many as 40% of items go unaccounted for because there is no UPC match. To solve this problem, competitive pricing platforms must be able to utilize visual data capture technology and advanced character recognition to compare product attributes. This allows product linking to occur not just by UPC, but also by key attributes and statement of ingredient similarities, i.e. gluten-free and organic. This creates a more accurate picture of a competitor’s private label pricing strategy and their total value proposition.

Customized KVI Lists Based on Statistical Analysis

MissionControl_Competitive Pricing Platform
Dynamic KVI list support can help you customize by store.

Historically, cost and timeliness have made it difficult to acquire quality competitive data. Given the dynamic nature of the retail environment, static KVI lists are not responsive enough to the realities of where to focus competitive pricing efforts across various geographies and store-specific categories. The retailer needs a pricing platform that allows them to shift from static KVI lists to ones that are easily customized by banner or even by specific store. Rather than taking a blanket approach, the critical decisions of where, what and when to comp shop should be based on strategic statistical analysis.

Drill-Down Capabilities

Merchants need the ability to drill down and understand the decisions competitors are making within specific regions, designated market areas (DMAs), cities and individual stores across their overall pricing strategy or within specific merchandise categories. This would enable merchants to lead their competition by being right on pricing with the right items that are important to customers at a localized level. Such flexibility in designing and executing a more targeted approach to competitor pricing would allow for significant savings in budgeted dollars for competitive shops. A retailer could go after the data they actually need when they need it, rather than spending dollars on costly full book programs.  

Correlating Online and In-store Pricing

In today’s world of e-commerce, more and more retailers are taking an omni-channel approach to selling. A technology-enabled competitive pricing platform needs to take advantage of advanced web crawling algorithms to acquire this competitive data and correlate it against the data captured by auditors in physical store checks. This would enable a more efficient and cost-effective approach to acquiring competitive pricing data.

Aligning Objectives

As advanced analytics enable faster and more accurate decision-making, organizations will need to change to more cross-functionally aligned metrics that strategically drive the financial success of a company. When considering today’s retail organizational structure, is what drives a merchant’s decisions the same as what motivates the employees in a pricing department? Having the data to make decisions regarding competitive pricing at the speed of retail requires a major step forward in enabling accurate pricing decisions to be made with a sense of urgency and strategic intent. However, to fully unlock its true impact to P&L, the retailer will benefit from progressive thinking around how to align objectives and an incentive structure that motivates and drives collaboration. This will enable different departments with complementary skill sets to pull the rope in the same direction and drive a total value proposition focused on the customer.

 

02 Jan 2018
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In the News: Engage3 is Harnessing Competitive Intel and Consumer Science

This post is part of our new Future of Retail series which interviews the leading founders and executives who are on the front lines of the industry to get a better understanding of what problems the industry is facing, what trends are taking place, and what the future looks like. Read the article in the Disruptor Daily News here.

10 Oct 2017
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Engage3 Presents at Imperial Distributors’ Spring & Summer 2018 Seasonal Show

Imperial Distributors, a long time Engage3 customer & partner, is recognized throughout the Northeast, South Atlantic and Midwest states as a leader in both distribution and merchandising of supermarket non-foods. The Spring & Summer 2018 Seasonal show provided retailers with an opportunity to complement their food business with non-food offerings to drive sales & improve customer experience.

Ken Ouimet, Engage3 Founder & CEO, was a keynote speaker at Imperial Distributors’ seasonal show this year and discussed The Art & Science of Managing Your Price Image with attending merchandising & marketing executives.

Reach out to info@engage3.com to request information on the session and if you are interested in learning how to leverage competitive data and advanced analytics to compete more profitably.

Other presenters included Tom’s of Maine and Tebo Store Fixtures.
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Left to Right – (1) Ken, (2) Jack Wisniewski, Managing Director – Tebo and (3) Seamus Conlin, Food, Drug & Mass Agency Manager – Tom’s of Maine.
Left to Right – (1) Ken, (2) Jack Wisniewski, Managing Director – Tebo and (3) Seamus Conlin, Food, Drug & Mass Agency Manager – Tom’s of Maine.
12 May 2017
Moneta

Lokesh Sikaria: On the Keys to Achieving Success as a Start-Up

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Moneta Ventures is an investor in Engage3’s Series B round of financing. Their mission is to identify and accelerate the growth of the most innovative companies in California’s capital region. 

Lokesh Sikaria, managing partner at Moneta Ventures, commented in a recent press release, “Engage3’s management team has a great record in the retail space. Their demonstrated domain expertise combined with current customer traction, the technology platform they have already built, and the product roadmap makes a very compelling investment thesis.”

Prior to his work with Moneta, he was the Founder and CEO of Sparta Consulting, a global IT consulting firm, and grew Sparta to more than $100 million in revenue in just five years. A Berkeley graduate with an Electrical Engineering and Computer Science degree, Sikaria was sent to work on a project at Intel by his first job with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

He greatly enjoyed working in Folsom and the ecosystem he found there, so he decided to stay and cultivate his industry within the region. We decided to sit down with him and understand his personal and professional motivations and what he believes are keys to success when starting a business.

What does it take for a company like Sparta Consulting to grow from 0 to 125 million in revenue?

Well, a lot of money. That’s when we realized that the ecosystem for that kind of growth just wasn’t here, in the greater Sacramento area. We knew we wanted to be the ones to start a fund here and focus on investing because we knew that there were other companies just like us, who were doing well in their business plan and growth but didn’t have the necessary funding. So I think the secret to building up a business is to have access to capital, a reasonable space and strong teams. I like to quote Ben Franklin, who said that “we must all hang together or we will all hang separately.” And I think the mindset of a team should be that we’re all in this together.

What traits do you look for when you hire someone for a team?

Evaluating how people react in adversity is the key. How do your team members react when things aren’t going according to plan? As a start-up you can almost be certain that things will not go according to plan, and when that happens, do your partners quit? That to me, is the defining criteria of the team.

In what ways, other than revenue, did Sparta see a lot of success and growth?

The key thing with Sparta was to let our employees participate in our success or failure. We let our employees invest in the company at the same price that we invested at, so by the time Sparta was sold, I held 20% of the company and the remaining 80% was owned by other employees. What’s really special is that when Sparta sold, for every 1 dollar invested we made $4.93 with around a 65% return per year. And I think we made 15 millionaires out of the process. For a lot of the families and employees with us, this was very special.

Do you have a thesis for how to make your investments or a criterion for choosing companies to invest in?

We have three filters that companies that are pitched to us must go through. From the onset, we knew we wanted to deploy at least 70% of capital in the greater Sacramento region. We all came from a tech background, so we wanted to invest in tech companies first and then slowly expand to other areas of investment such as healthcare or Ag-tech. We also focus on companies that are within half a million in revenue to 5 million in revenue. And we do this because when you focus on companies when they’re in the initial stages, it’s a lot more fun and interactive and rewarding to participate with them rather than when they become big corporations.

How have you persevered through some of your most difficult challenges while running Sparta Consulting?

As an entrepreneur, you have to be mentally prepared for the challenges and have the ability to withstand them. I was fortunate to have a very supportive management team around me and that made all the difference at Sparta. Not only I but several of my management team mortgaged their homes to keep the company going from an investment standpoint.
 
How do you spot companies that have promise of success?
Good management teams; growing revenue (at least $500K revenue run-rate annually); In sectors and areas that are seeing increasing demand; Founders with significant skin in the game;

What’s the best way for a start-up or a growing company to get your attention?

I suggest that the first step is to have your ducks in a row. Make sure you know who you’re selling to from a customer standpoint. You should ideally have a few customers already, have some beta customers, and at least a minimum viable product. Then the best way to approach Moneta Ventures is to reach out to Sabya Das, Associate Partner at Moneta, or apply on our website.

One of our challenges when assessing companies is that since there are 4 of us the business, the volume becomes very significant. We looked at 440 companies total to get to the 20 companies that were selected in Fund 1 and Fund 2 over a three and half year period. So it is competitive and it is challenging, but it doesn’t mean that just because we aren’t interested, that you’re not going to be successful.

Do you have advice for start-ups who are just entering the world of planning and creating their vision on what the process looks like?

There needs to be a balance between the planning and the execution. We want entrepreneurs to focus only on one or two things out of the 50 million ideas they might have, and then pursue them wholeheartedly. You’ve got to plan your actions and decide which idea you will pursue. In general, if you spread yourself too thin, it’s a problem. There will be obstacles and offsets. But you have to continue and give it it’s due before deciding to call it quits. That balance is key.

There’s an analogy in marketing that I think really captures the idea. What you want do is fire bullets, and then where you succeed, you want to fire cannons there. That’s the right mindset. Get to the ideas that hit, and when you know this is the right place, go at it with cannons.

What do you enjoy about being a VC?

I really enjoy the cyclical nature of it and seeing the successes come out of our investments and coming right back to us. We’ve created this foundation of providing each other value and working with each other as a team by sharing successes. The fun part is to be able to see the success come out and how that success feeds right back. What you do comes right back to you.

Sikaria spoke at the Startup Grind Sacramento event this month and shared these insights and experiences with the attendees of the event. Watch his full presentation here!

30 Mar 2017
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Engage3 and Brick Meets Click to Host Joint Webinar: “Surviving the Emerging Price War”

thumbnail_Joint Co LogosOn April 5th, Engage3 executives Ken Ouimet and Edris Bemanian will co-host a webinar with Brick Meets Click Co-Founder Bill Bishop to unveil a new layer of competitive intelligence insights in the fast-moving consumables space. In this session, participants will gain an understanding of how retailers are managing the complexity of pricing in today’s marketplace and see examples of how more dynamic approaches can drive profitable sales.

In the hyper-competitive world of retail today, the importance of understanding competitive pricing is paramount to executing successful long-term sustainable strategies. A great deal of recent progress has been made in applying the power of advanced analytics to pricing strategy; from improving the speed and accuracy of competitive price checks to reverse engineering the competition’s pricing strategy. As this progress ushers in new pricing rules, retailers are in position to take advantage and compete more effectively. The webinar will focus on this premise and highlight new work from Engage3.

Long-time industry advisor Bill Bishop, Chief Architect of Brick Meets Click, will moderate the session. Bill brings 20+ years of experience helping retailers strengthen their price reputations.

Click here to register for the session today!

17 Jan 2017
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Engage3 Promotes Helena Cisneros to VP of Customer Success

Helena CisneHelena Cisneros, Sr. Dir. Operationsros, formerly the Sr. Director of Operations for Engage3, was recently promoted to Vice President of Customer Success. Cisneros has been with the company for over 15 years after having served for 10 years in retail management with Target. With the company’s rapid expansion, the move places Helena in optimal position to ensure new customer success while also maintaining the quality service standards set for existing Engage3 clients. An overachiever by nature, Helena’s dedication to her team and her clients truly sets her apart. With the company’s plans to more than double revenues this year, Helena will continue to play a vital role in the process and the lead the charge as more clients take advantage of Engage3’s leading technology solutions.

12 Dec 2016
1st place Engage3 winners (Ken Ouimet and Edris Bemanian), 2nd place winners from PocketPoints Mitch Gardner and Rob Richardson), 3rd place winner Ken Kruszka from SnapCheck and venture capitalist judges John Dougery, Arjun Chopra, Ankur Jain, and Lokesh Sikaria.

Venture Capitalists Grant Engage3 1st Place at TiE Pitchfest in San Francisco

On November 3rd, Engage3 took to the stage to pitch their business plan and traction to a panel of venture capitalists and an audience of Bay Area entrepreneurs at TiE Silicon Valley’s San Francisco Pitchfest event to ultimately secure first place after the presentation and Q&A.

Judges at this year’s event included: John Dougery, Managing Partner of Inventus Capital; Arjun Chopra, Partner at Floodgate; Ankur Jain, co-founder of Emergent Ventures; and Lokesh Sikaria, Managing Director of Moneta Ventures.

The event was sponsored by DLA Piper and moderated by Rajiv Dharnidharka, a partner of DLA Piper’s Silicon Valley litigation group. Other TiE sponsors include Adobe, Cisco, SanDisk Corporation, IBM, VMware, Zoho Corp, Discover, HP, Mayfield Fund, Bank of America, Ernst & Young, KPMG, Morgan Stanley, Silicon Valley Bank, and more.

TiE was founded in 1992 and currently has 13,000 members, including over 2,500 charter members in 61 chapters across 18 countries. The non-profit’s mission is to foster global entrepreneurship and claims an economic wealth creation estimate of $200 billion. TiE’s annual professional conferences, TiECon are regarded as the largest entrperneurial forum in the world and held in over 15 cities globally each year. Click here to learn more about TiE.