Product, platform, service and design lessons from Converge @ Walmart, the biggest retail tech event of the year

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The recently concluded Converge @ Walmart, which is touted to be one of the biggest retail tech events of the year, brought together more than 13,000 registrants and over 80 global speakers to deliberate on key themes that are transforming the retail landscape.

Among the various sessions, the long format masterclasses saw speakers delve deep into insightful topics across product, platform, service and design thinking that impact innovation in retail.

Here are the key takeaways from the masterclasses:

Nir Eyal on the ‘hook’ that builds habit-forming products

Why do some products capture widespread attention while others don’t? What makes us engage with certain products out of sheer habit? Is there a pattern underlying how technologies lure us? Bestselling author Nir Eyal answered these questions and many more by explaining the Hook Model—a four-step process embedded into products of many successful companies to subtly encourage customer engagement.

“Any business can build habit-forming products,” said Nir while talking about building user retention in his masterclass. “The hook is an experience, designed to connect the user’s problem with your product, with enough frequency to form a habit. You can buy engagement, but not a product,” he added, recommending companies to follow a cycle of trigger, action, reward and investment.

Catch Nir Eyal’s masterclass on building habit-forming products here.

Bizongo’s Ankit Tomar spills the beans on secret to building scalable platforms

Digital platforms have ramped up the availability of goods and services for customers by providing them access to a plethora of suppliers. In his masterclass, Ankit Tomar, Co-founder & CTO, Bizongo spoke about how companies can create reliable, secure, flexible and scalable platforms that are built to last. “A platform has to be built first and reused forever. It has to be built agnostic of specific business needs and then used for addressing them. It must be eternally programmable and expose hooks to build customisable experiences on top of it,” he said.

Ankit also contextualised how ecommerce platforms were multi-million-scale today with many application components. He said that a platform typically comprises technology components like a user interface, a data store, a backend data processing system, which is further split on the lines of real time and offline, continuous and, batch processing. If a platform with such diverse needs is built as a single monolith, it would be too complex and hard to build, evolve and scale.

“Platforms also have to be externally programmable, and include hooks to build customisable experiences on top of them,” he added.

Catch Ankit Tomar’s masterclass on building habit-forming products here.

Rohit Chatter’s Masterclass on Build as SaaS

Engineers code day in and day out to deliver software that meets business goals. With a well-defined product idea and a clear plan in mind, the next step in the process of building a software is to define the technical and functional requirements for the services you want. In his masterclass on building as Saas, an engineer-to-engineer talk, Rohit Chatter, Chief Architect- US. Tech at Walmart Global Tech India focused on the kind of mindset engineers need to build Software as a Service solutions and own the responsibility.

Doing things the SaaS way, he opined, was all about keeping scale in the front and center, with an eye on the future. “Think of the service or module as a product. Think of how it will evolve over time. Keep it lean and build for scale, with simplicity at its core - offering the ease of onboarding and adoption,” he said.

“Building as SaaS is about designing with multi-tenancy, and a dynamic horizontal scale, and leveraging defensive coding” he added, while referring to the key tenets of SaaS.

Catch Rohit Chatter’s masterclass on building as SaaS here.

Martin Granström’s secret sauce for acing design thinking in retail

‘What do my customers really want?’ is the most important question for every retailer. The session focused on how design thinking, through user research and prototypes, evaluates and anticipates gaps in retail strategies to build great and seamless customer experiences.

Talking during his masterclass on design thinking for retail, Martin Granström, VP, Head of Product Design, Sam’s Club encouraged retailers to opt for a thorough research and insights-based approach. “It’s super important to first understand the problem,” he added.

Martin also advised them to use an ‘effect map’ for a goal-oriented design, which he described as ‘where you want to be as a company or business, expressed through a result’. “In other words, it is a high-level expression of business health. Of course, the impact can be a North Star Metric, but it can also be a simple business KPI,” he added.

He concluded by talking about how businesses could increase adoption and repeat usage. Martin called for effect mapping the customer journey by asking four key questions: Why are we doing this? Who can really create the effects? What do user groups want and need? And finally, how will the product be shaped?

Catch Martin Granström’s masterclass on design thinking for retail here.

How to access the Converge @ Walmart archives

Missed out on registering for Converge @ Walmart? You could still catch the archived sessions here.

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