A Chat with Sarita Runeberg, Business Development Director at Creative Technology Company: Reaktor

Reaktor is a creative technology partner for forward-thinking organisations and societies. Our global community of 550+ industry-leading experts creates digital products, services, and strategies built on exceptional technological competence. We are known for delivering high quality with high velocity, from premium software development to brand experiences and digital transformation.

Our core business is human-centric digital services design, agile software development, and data excellence. We solve our clients’ most critical problems and create products, services, and ways of working that have impact beyond themselves.

Based in Helsinki, New York, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Lisbon, and Tokyo, Reaktor works with clients such as Adidas, Liverpool FC, Supercell, Varian, and Finnair. Our work has been globally recognized with awards such as the MIT Inclusive Innovation Prize, Red Dot, Emmy for Interactive Media, Webby Award, German Design Award, and Apex Innovation Award.

We are also known for our culture and leadership – we foster autonomy and trust. We believe in an almost flat hierarchy and a leadership network instead of a few C-level people making all the decisions – some of our offices even operate autonomously, without a senior executive.

Since our foundation, Reaktor has been a place to grow. We are committed to getting the best out of our people and giving them the tools to thrive. That’s why we, for instance, organise over 200 training and community learning sessions annually for our people. For us, a job shouldn’t just be a way to tick the employment box, but a rewarding place to grow and develop as a professional.
Reaktor logo - Finnair

Tell us about the emerging trends you are witnessing in the E-commerce and retail space

Right now, there are four major emerging trends within the e-commerce space that I think are worth highlighting:
The use of data and AI
To stay ahead of the competition, online retailers are increasingly starting to see the value in understanding their customers and using the data and different kinds of AI solutions to offer new and innovative services. This can mean anything from personalised recommendations based on the consumer’s previous purchase history to using AI to predict the demand for certain products during seasonal peak times and promoting those to the consumers at the right time.

In physical retail, the AI can also be used to optimise stock levels, for example, to minimise the amount of grocery products that go to waste. This is a successful tool as it also helps businesses align their aims with one of the major emerging trends, we’re seeing in the e-commerce space right now, sustainability.
Sustainability is trending across sectors and industries, and retail is no exception. More than ever before, sustainability is a central focus for retailers in both their physical and online objectives. Consumers and investors want to see not only more sustainable products, but also more sustainable ways of doing business.

The result for retailers is that issues such as energy consumption, logistics emissions and excess waste are being spotlighted. And so, the onus is on retailers to develop innovative solutions to these problems, often using AR and AI as aiding tools.
Ease of use
Life is very hectic nowadays and consumers are looking to spend their time as efficiently as possible. In order to succeed in the competitive market, online retailers need to come up with ways to provide easy and fast ways for their customers to find the right products at the right time, and complete the purchase effortlessly. Personalisation and AI help support this, of course, but one key thing these days is the checkout flow. Introducing new express checkout methods and online ‘tap to pay’ solutions such as ApplePay will become more and more of a standard mode of operating.
Omnichannel, bridging the gap between online and physical retail
As the world starts to reopen after the pandemic, retailers are facing an increased number of consumers who have grown to prefer online shopping solutions, following months of lockdowns and being at home. Therefore, it will be even more important to start bridging the gap between the online experience and brick-and-mortar stores. This brings to life a whole range of in-store solutions that will mimic the fastness of the online store but maintain the feeling of a quality service one gets in a physical store. These same solutions often work online as well – bringing the sense of great, personalised customer service to the otherwise self-serve online store.

One example of a solution that has worked online is the award-winning product finder we developed for Adidas Outdoor. In that, the customer can go through a journey of questions just like the ones a shop assistant might ask in the store, resulting in a list of products specifically recommended to their needs.


How has Reaktor evolved during the pandemic?

We became very good at creating critical and premium digital services remotely and with distributed teams that may not even be in the same country. For instance, we coded the new Adidas e-commerce platform from Helsinki, Turku, Amsterdam, and New York. We’ve been building a whole new way for digital fan engagement with Liverpool FC from Helsinki and Amsterdam. We believe that work in the future doesn’t have to be limited by geography.

No matter the office location, Reaktor is in the business of making its clients succeed in their digital ventures. We believe that the most important and impactful projects of the future will be carried out by teams across locations.

Our business is global, not country-specific, so our offices and people need to be, too. The pandemic forced us to mature in our thinking here: building remote teams, finding new ways of working, and making the best possible use of talent across the globe became fundamental to success.

We also learnt to foster a sense of community, even remotely: through hobby groups, Community of Practices, and the remote office operations team, our number one priority has always been to facilitate and encourage meaningful conversations. Our wide array of trainings and coffee chats happen indiscriminately of location (and will continue to do so after the pandemic).

We have taken trust to the next level. Our people self-organise, and two of our offices even operate without a chief executive. As the pandemic fizzles out, every individual and team is permitted to figure out the best way for themselves and their clients to navigate the hybrid future of work. There are no demands to get back to the office – people come if they want to. This high level of trust breeds highly active people who get things done.

What can we hope to see from Reaktor in the future?

We have a determination to expand: hungry for strong growth in our core markets – both in headcount and clientele. We are eager to share and develop our expertise in industries such as retail, gaming, and healthcare, across Europe.

We are all about building strategic, close relationships with our clients to enable innovation and industry-specific knowledge sharing. We have just opened our Lisbon office, dubbed Europe’s fastest-growing tech ecosystem. This will serve as an important link between the United States and Europe, and host Reaktor’s next big talent community – set to be the cornerstone in the next chapter of Reaktor’s story.

Our business is our people, so prioritising future Reaktorians’ standard of living is vitally important to us. In terms of internationality, accessibility and level of ambition, Lisbon ticks all the boxes and is only the beginning for the next step of our European growth.