A Chat with Mark Walker-Smith, Head of Business at SaaS-Based Platform: Sekel Tech

Sekel Tech is a Hyperlocal SaaS-based platform that helps brands and retailers connect and engage with potential customers in real time and in a personalised and localised manner. Sekel in Hebrew means intelligent, and Tech stands for technology.

What Sekel Tech does is give the ability to a brand with a bricks and mortar presence to generate and drive sales by bridging the online-offline consumer experience and seamlessly integrating the physical and digital worlds. By doing so it solves one of the biggest challenges for brands which is getting new customers, engaging with them via personalised interaction, and keeping them – all at the right cost.
Rakesh Raghuvanshi | LinkedIn

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

Our founder had been working with major cross sector brands for many years to enhance and optimise their Customer Engagement – as digital ‘shopfronts’ and eCommerce developed capability and foothold, he noticed that in many cases product and service aggregators or marketplaces were ranking in Search above even a specific brand led search.

This was driving customers (and ultimately their business) away from the brands’ own digital presence and completely bypassing the ‘hyperlocal’ considerations underpinning most of the product / service led searches done by consumers (i.e. find a ‘product’ near me). This meant that a brand’s access to and control of first party data was very limited – this then affected longer term ‘customer lifetime value’ and the ability to build brand awareness and loyalty.

In addition, most of the location-based information provided by these aggregators was insufficient, invalid or obsolete – this means that for a consumer often the purchase decision is impacted through the lack of accurate and up to date information, particularly as hyperlocal business is very dynamic in nature.

We developed a Dynamic Customer Engagement platform to address these challenges that brands are increasingly facing – our platform seamlessly connects a brands’ digital and physical presences and ranks them highly on Search using relevant, contextual and location based information which is also targeted and meaningful. The brand’s local presence and offerings therefore rank organically (not through advertising) which is a much more sustainable, long-term digital play to convert customers from discovery through to facilitating the delivery of products and services.


How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

It’s clear that the pandemic has changed consumer purchasing habits in many ways – from the rise in online sales and the increased use of digital channels to the changes in where and how people are spending their money (for instance an increase in grocery store buying to support more home cooking rather than dining out is a trend that’s here to stay).

Physical sales (i.e. in-store) still account for around 75-80% of all Retail sales – this figure has continued to rise even as we’re emerging from the pandemic and, in conjunction with a recent Retail 2022 report stating that 49% of retailers plan to open stores on local high streets, highlights the fact that the importance of a physical presence and hyperlocal considerations for marketing and customer engagement (a shift accelerated by the work from home phenomenon)

In addition, there was a major update to Google’s Search algorithms in Q3/2021 to heavily prioritise the search ranking of local businesses / services – a definite move to react and embrace the hyperlocal nature of how consumers are wanting to search, research and ultimately buy products and services.

In response to these challenges and opportunities for brands, we have developed our platform to support them in a more strategic, end to end way – allowing them to target customers via powerful organic discovery, linked to physical location based dynamic content to endure that the customer experience is directly with a locally focused ‘shopfront’ for the brand and that all customer engagement is managed within the brand’s own domain (meaning that all interaction with the customer drives the essential first party data).

We have also developed fulfilment related capabilities with integration to payment gateways and delivery services so that the customer experience is seamlessly managed within the brand’s control and domain, with deep analytics to report back on transactional activity, conversion rates and ultimately supporting intelligent and personalised re-targeting of the customer following initial purchase.

What can we hope to see from Sekel Tech in the future?

We’re constantly investing in and improving our platform – our product research and management teams are closely aligned to market, industry, and technology trends as well as direct feedback from our customers to ensure that we’re ‘ahead of the curve’ in terms of what a brand will need (or should be doing) to compete and win against their competition (and market forces), particularly in an increasingly hyperlocal centric market.

eCommerce aspects will continue to grow but it is about more than just digital / online sales – the interaction with the consumer is evolving and becoming more complex – the ultimate goal here is to provide a unified retail experience with seamless social and local searches, options to explore convenient physical channels, browsing to order fulfilment, and delivery without any break in the experience.

Certainly for many product and service categories there will always be the desire for convenient in-store interaction and purchase, even if the discovery and research is done digitally as a point of entry to the buying cycle – it’s clear that moving forward, choosing between online sales and bricks-and-mortar stores won’t be the answer — instead brands will need to offer a compelling, optimised and personalised omnichannel experience.

Key to an omnichannel strategy is organic discovery coupled with optimised and personalised customer engagement which will bring down the cost of customer acquisition, support ‘knowing your customer’ in a much more personalised and granular level of detail and lead to better customer retention and loyalty – here at Sekel Tech, our mission statement is to support brands with exactly these opportunities and are investing heavily, both in time and money, to ensure that we provide the leading solution to underpin the success of our customers.