Astound Launches New Value Exchange Index Dashboard

The short answer: Astound Commerce’s new Value Exchange Index (VEI) tool. This single-page application displays critical audit data through an easily navigated, always-on dashboard, revealing current brand experience delivery across an established set of digital commerce touchpoints via web and mobile channels. Through VEI, Astound evaluates the full buying cycle for dozens of top brands monthly, from initial product search to post-purchase, so that the full commerce process may be evaluated and the complete customer journey analyzed and understood—and the value that brands must deliver is realized.

Astound’s VEI marks a new era in the measurement and analysis of digital data. While consumer journey research is an established component of digital commerce marketing, Astound’s VEI takes it to another much more granular—and far more accurate—level. By considering the buying cycle from the buyer’s point of view, through a wide range of purchased products and applied metrics, Astound can unequivocally pinpoint where brands are succeeding, or more importantly, where they still have work to do. The scores reflect brand and industry strengths and weaknesses, assuring an accurate portrayal of the present while simultaneously pointing to future probabilities.

Evaluations are performed by Astound’s expert digital commerce analysts and are assured through a binary approach, with all queries presented in a yes/no format, avoiding the subjective responses that can distort audit results. 

To embody the modern commerce experience, 100 metrics were identified as core to the customer journey. From there, each metric is categorized into six unique, primary indicators, representative of top-line, universal consumer expectations:

Additionally, a number of metrics deemed fundamental contribute to what VEI analysts internally call the Baseline Indicator. These particular metrics address the minimum capabilities that a brand must encompass to maintain a nominally functional digital commerce site. A brand should score high on this indicator to assure its site experience measures up to acceptable consumer standards—a score of 65 percent, for example, would be cause for concern. Of brands currently assessed, The Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Ralph Lauren currently hold top honors when it comes to providing the best digital commerce experience. Knowing how your brand experience rates in this hyper-competitive digital jungle can mean the difference between a one-and-done shopper and a lifelong advocate for your brand.

Metrics are further assigned to one of three main touchpoints: Messaging, Shopping, and Service. This provides quick overviews of each brand’s digital strengths and deficiencies. The sum total of the touchpoints determines the brand’s overall score. As such, a brand could have an overall score consisting of 93 percent, with Messaging being 27 percent based on the average number of “yes” metrics accrued in the group, a Shopping score of 42 percent, and a Service score of 24 percent—leaving little doubt where the brand should deploy additional digital assets and developer talent.

Always On and Ever-Evolving 

While Astound’s VEI is unique for the depth and detail of its analytical capabilities, the data and expert insights are presented in an elegant, intuitive, and dynamic interface. Page navigation is provided by a “Select Vertical” sliding menu, allowing users to easily transition from singular to cumulative on all data sets. Example: the aforementioned touchpoint scores can be viewed for the Aggregated Verticals, or for Fitness & Sporting Goods, Footwear, Jewelry & Accessories, and so on individually. 

The commerce sector is evolving constantly, changing as new technologies appear and consumer tastes shift. Any functional analytical tool must likewise evolve, and Astound has built flexibility into VEI in response. Newer elements will become integrated into VEI on an iterative basis. One feature now under development is Pivotal Moments, a set of metrics focused on specific slices or groupings of touchpoints that identify the precise points in the customer journey that affect behavior. Astound is also refining a weighting system for its metrics, given that metrics vary in their relative value to the buying cycle. 

Astound’s VEI data is never dated, accommodating the protean, shifting—and fickle—nature of the digital marketplace. Brands have always endeavored to obtain relevant data. While the challenge was significant during the uncontested reign of brick-and-mortar, the expansion of the digital marketplace has made the accumulation and application of data sine qua non. And that extends to the measurement of data—whether they are assessed correctly, and whether incoming information is useful and timely. VEI’s sound methodology covers all the bases—its competitive intelligence is an immeasurable asset to brand managers in the digital commerce space. 

Astound Supports Ukraine Humanitarian Relief Efforts

With the aim of offering tangible support to the people of Ukraine, Astound Commerce has assembled a list of vetted and trustworthy not-for-profit organizations dedicated to providing humanitarian aid and logistical support to those affected by the Russian invasion. These organizations, with links to our JustGiving pages for each, are as follows: 

JustGiving is a world-leading online fundraising platform trusted by more than 450,000 charitable organizations worldwide. Astound welcomes anyone anywhere to show support by donating via the Astound JustGiving pages to any or all of the above-named charities.

Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast, and completely secure, and every donation made goes directly to the organization of choice. 

Meeting This Moment: Our Unwavering Support for the People of Ukraine

We have all been consumed for the past week by the news and images coming out of Ukraine, as Russia continues its attack on the nation and its people. Heartbreak, anger, frustration, and despair are among the emotions we’ve felt from afar, but there is another emotion that speaks to our hope for what’s to come: awe.

We stand in awe of the strength of the Ukrainian people. We stand in awe of the citizens who have volunteered to bolster an outgunned military. We stand in awe of a leader who could have fled to safety but has instead taken to the streets of Kyiv in a gesture of solidarity with the people he serves, and proclaimed, “I am here.” 

We are in awe, but we are not surprised. Because the strength of character we now see on the world’s stage is a direct reflection of the strength of character we have long seen in our many Ukrainian Astound Commerce teammates. We have long seen your integrity, your intelligence, your devotion to what you believe in. We have long known your fierce hearts.

Being a company founded by three Ukrainians who emigrated to the United States as teenagers, the Ukrainian spirit is profoundly embedded in Astound’s DNA, and it is embodied in our Ukrainian teammates. I want to call out in particular our Ukraine Business Continuity Planning Leadership team for their incredible strength and forbearance during this time of crisis. This team has been working around the clock on relocation efforts to first move Ukraine-based employees to the relative safety of Western Ukraine, and they are now assisting in their temporary relocation outside the country. These individuals are the very definition of courage, as they work to ensure the safety of their teammates. 

As we stand in awe of how all Ukrainians are meeting this moment, we are not alone. Our clients and partners are equally humbled, and we have received an outpouring of well wishes from so many. We thank them as well for these expressions of solidarity, and in the coming days we’ll be sharing information on the most impactful ways we can all make a difference. 

In the meantime, we again express our gratitude and our unwavering support for our Ukrainian teammates and the Ukrainian people. We are with you. Slava Ukraini! 

Michael Kahn (MK), Global CEO

In Full Support of Our Ukrainian Teammates

On behalf of Astound leadership and our team worldwide, I want to express our unwavering support for our colleagues based in Ukraine. I know that I speak for each of our people in the 26 countries in which we operate when I say that we stand by our Ukrainian teammates in full.

Over the last few months, we have worked to ensure their safety and well-being and will continue to do so with every action we take.

With a global team of 1,600 across Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Hong Kong, India, Germany, Slovakia, Spain, the UK, the US, and other countries, we know the importance of connecting across time and distance to support each other. The past two years have taught us the immeasurable value of reaching out to our colleagues around the world every day. 

To our Ukrainian teammates who are being impacted by this crisis now, we are with you.

And we will continue to do everything we can to keep you safe.

Michael Kahn (MK), Global CEO

Astound Commerce Secures Second Consecutive SOC 2 Type 2 Certification

Globally trusted digital commerce specialist Astound Commerce is pleased to announce it has successfully completed its System and Organization Controls (SOC) 2 Type 2 audit for the second year in a row, fortifying the company’s robust security and compliance posture.

A SOC 2 Type 2 report assesses organizational controls against the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants' (AICPA) Trust Services Principles (TSPs): Security, Availability, Processing Integrity, Confidentiality, and Privacy. A badge of trust, the SOC 2 Type 2 certification reflects Astound’s ongoing commitment to cybersecurity best practices, securing the data and protecting the privacy of its valued customers.

Astound’s company-wide initiative to meet the stringent industry standards for security and privacy established by the AICPA delivers a powerful message to its clients, prospects, and partners as it makes every effort to build revolutionary ecommerce ecosystems while maintaining exceptional security standards. Moreover, the company is dedicated to continuously deepening its ecommerce and technical expertise, providing extensive, first-rate security awareness training to its 1,600 ecommerce specialists around the world.

Aside from receiving the SOC 2 Type 2 certification, Astound also complies with the EU-US Privacy Shield Framework and Swiss-US Privacy Shield Framework as set forth by the US Department of Commerce regarding the collection, use, and retention of personal information transferred from the European Union and Switzerland to the United States.

With more than 20 years’ experience, a global team of 1,600 deeply passionate experts, more than 3,000 projects completed, and dozens of industry accolades, Astound once again solidifies its position as a leader in the digital commerce space. 

Astound Wins Eight Awards in Leading Digital Competition

The winners of the 16th Annual w3 Awards were announced in October 2021 by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts (AIVA), an esteemed group of professionals dedicated to celebrating and honoring the very best in websites, advertising, mobile sites and apps, video, social, and podcasts.

Demonstrating digital excellence in website design, Astound received the following w3 awards in recognition for its work with Nestlé Nespresso SA, TOMS, Floor & Decor, Apothic Wines, Halfords, and Health-E Commerce:

2021 w3 Gold Awards 

2021 w3 Silver Awards

Astound is thrilled to have been highlighted for its work with six of its valued clients and looks forward to sharing many more successes in the future. 

Innovating for Customer Success

“Salesforce Partner Innovation Award winners such as Astound Commerce work relentlessly to enable their customers’ success,” says Tyler Prince, Executive Vice President, Alliances & Channels, Salesforce. “Salesforce partners are integral to enabling digital transformation and success for customers in our new work-from-anywhere world.”

Utilizing Salesforce Customer 360 Data Manager, an integrated CRM platform that delivers a streamlined brand experience, Astound transformed FLOR’s ecommerce website into an enhanced showcase platform. This resulted in a 42 percent year-over-year revenue increase, a 38 percent desktop conversion rate increase, a 72 percent desktop add-to-cart rate increase, and more (see the full case study here).

“Astound is thrilled to be recognized by Salesforce for its work with client FLOR, and the exceptional results we have been able to achieve together, especially during the past 18 months,” says Michael Kahn, Global CEO, Astound Commerce. “We have a singular goal of being the global leader in digital commerce solutions, and it is working with clients like FLOR that allows us to shine bright in what we do.”

“When FLOR needed an innovative customer experience that matched the elegance and usability of our product, we turned to Astound Commerce,” says James Pope, General Manager and Director of Marketing and Sales Operations at FLOR. “The Astound team replatformed FLOR to Salesforce Commerce Cloud and laid the foundation for a Salesforce multi-cloud environment that will allow for growth and establish our future roadmap.” 

Pope continues, “This award couldn’t be more well-deserved, and it speaks to how Astound’s Salesforce implementation transformed FLOR’s website into an optimized showcase platform.” 

As a leading implementation partner for Salesforce with more than 600 launched SFCC sites, Astound continues to demonstrate its unwavering commitment to elevating ecommerce with Salesforce technologies. 

Astound Announces Organizational Shift to Drive Client Success

On the heels of bringing on board Thomas Spellios as Chief Financial Officer and Matthew Barker as Chief People Officer this summer, Astound has now created the roles of Chief Strategy Officer, Chief Solutions Officer, and Chief Revenue Officer—with Astound cofounders Igor Gorin and Ilya Vinogradsky becoming Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Solutions Officer, respectively. Terry Hunter, most recently CEO of Astound Commerce UK, will take the reins as Chief Revenue Officer. These C-suite leaders will report into Astound Global CEO Michael Kahn (MK). 

Astound’s in-market leadership will remain consistent and strong, with Vanessa Cartwright becoming CEO of Astound Commerce North America, Samuel Cane becoming the Managing Director of Astound Commerce UK, Lars Feldscher continuing in his role as CEO of Astound Commerce DACH, and David O’Sullivan continuing in his role as Managing Director of Astound Commerce MENA. These four established Astound leaders are deeply committed to strengthening client and partner relationships in the markets they have long served, and all will report into Chief Revenue Officer Terry Hunter—signalling a move away from a franchise model to a global platform for growth. 

“We are at a critical moment in the history of the company calling for organizational change—a moment characterized by unprecedented marketplace demand and exceptional business growth opportunity,” says MK. “In response, we realized we needed this change to our structure to create greater alignment, collaboration, and scale to go and grow.”

“The pandemic made it clear that change is constant, and more than ever our clients are looking to work with a very responsive, flexible partner who can provide the highest-level quality of work and expertise,” says Chief Strategy Officer Igor Gorin. “This organizational change makes it possible for us to offer the best value to our clients while scaling our business.” 

“You can expect the same high-quality work you have come to rely on from Astound, but with improvements in speed and agility,” adds Chief Revenue Officer Terry Hunter. “The CRO team in particular is committed to optimizing all areas and interactions across our business, as we work to accelerate and enhance business revenue generation for our clients.”

As Chief Strategy Officer, Igor will focus on corporate strategy, acquisitions, and investments, while Terry will focus on go-to-market sales, marketing, practices, and products. Chief Solutions Officer Ilya Vinogradksy will oversee solutions management and resourcing, with the aim of providing aligned, agile, and flexible strategic solutions covering all of Astound’s capabilities. 

This latest milestone in the company’s North Star plan, launched in the beginning of 2020 with the aim of making Astound the global market leader in digital commerce, follows the May announcement of a major investment in the future of Astound by Los Angelesbased RLH Equity Partners. That investment fueled Astound’s efforts to expand its capabilities and global footprint, and the restructuring announced today significantly accelerates progress toward that goal. 

Get in touch to learn more.

Astound Commerce Adds Three to Global Leadership Team

Astound Commerce has announced the appointment of three new members to its global leadership team: Thomas Spellios as Chief Financial Officer, Matthew Barker as Chief People Officer, and Maria (Maru) Velandia as Global Employer Brand Manager. This significant investment in Astound’s leadership team across the dimensions of finance, talent, and employer branding dramatically accelerates the company’s progress toward its North Star goals of building out its capabilities and network, expanding into new commercial markets, and ultimately becoming the global market leader in digital commerce and transformation. 

As CFO, Thomas Spellios will define and drive the financial and operational management of the company globally. He has taken on the challenge of raising Astound’s prowess and performance while advancing the company’s North Star goals. Thomas, who will be based in the US, has an expansive 25-plus-year history working at consultancies (Booz Allen & Hamilton, Deloitte, and Accenture) and technology companies (TTEC, Logica, Ericsson, and Teradata), as well as a number of private equity firms. He is a University of Massachusetts and University of Maryland graduate, with an MBA in international finance. 

Based in London and responsible for leading Astound’s global people operations efforts for the ongoing evolution of the business, Matthew Barker will spearhead strategies to attract, retain, develop, and inspire top talent around the globe and create a world-class employee culture and environment. Matthew is a seasoned people operations executive with deep international, technology, and organizational transformation experience for companies including Asurion, Bwin.party Entertainment, British Telecom, Cisco Systems, and EDS, as well as the digital advertising platforms of Rakuten. Barker attended London South Bank University. 

Maria (Maru) Velandia brings more than 10 years of digital marketing, recruitment marketing, and employer branding experience to Astound, with a proven track record of helping companies like Philips define their differentiating employer value proposition and communicate and market it to become a talent destination of choice. Based in Panama, Maru holds a masters in communications and advertising from Andrés Bello Catholic University. 

Thomas and Matthew will report directly to Astound Global CEO Michael Kahn (MK), and Maru will report to Matthew.

“Astound Commerce has a singular goal of being the global leader in digital commerce solutions. As a company, we are committed to delivering maximum value every single day, and these critical new teammates will further fuel our pursuit of that mission,” says MK. “We are thrilled to welcome Thomas, Matthew, and Maru, esteemed leaders in their respective areas of expertise, to our global leadership team and look forward to watching them excel.”