Jay Hakami, president of Sky IT Group, had a well-established tech practice with Hewlett-Packard and IBM product suites for hardware and software.
But what gnawed at him was the notion of using data in a better way. Hakami’s wholesale clients in the fashion apparel space were inundated with reams of Excel spreadsheets, PDFs, vendor portals, EDI 852 data and even simple text files that took days to sift through simply to find out what was selling. For a brand selling to multiple retailers as well as through its own stores and e-commerce channel, the process is an ordeal.
So what if that data could be converged, scraped, scrubbed and reconfigured through a single portal that could tell a vendor what sold and where in a timely manner?
That’s exactly what Hakami did by creating Skypad, which is a Web-based reporting suite that eliminates the “manual, labor-intensive and burdensome” process of compiling and validating sell-through data from vendor portals, merchant spreadsheets and other data sources from multiple retailers. And based on the testimonials of users, the platform has emerged as an essential tool for companies and brands.
“It was really just a hobby at first,” Hakami said. “And then it quickly evolved. Soon after launching Skypad, what was initially a nice-to-have became a must-have solution. And it is because we give clients a complete picture of what’s selling or not.”
Gil Hakami, business development manager at Sky IT Group and Jay’s son, said the goal is to help brands create actionable reports of what’s selling, in which sizes and colors, at which retailers and at what quantities and price points, among other metrics.
“Leveraging accurate, store-level data and more timely self-serve reporting enables users to better anticipate product needs, discover emerging sales opportunities, react to inventory imbalances, all with a higher degree of confidence,” Gil Hakami said, adding that the relationship between vendors and retailers is strengthened as a result.
An early adopter of Skypad was Theory, but without advertising and via industry word of mouth, Skypad is now used by a host of luxury brands that include Lacoste, Derek Lam, Alice + Olivia, Fendi and others who sell to department stores all across the globe. Andrew Rosen, founder and ceo of Theory and Helmut Lang, described Skypad as a “great partner for Theory. They are a trusted resource for brands, giving them the ability to monitor sales performance and aggregate data across selling platforms considering multiple variables and performance indicators.”
Jason Epstein, senior vice president of operations at Alice + Olivia, said the ability of Skypad and the Sky IT Group team “to collect data from so many different data sources accurately not only saves us significant time and money, it provides us accurate insights into trends early in the season so we can take action to maximize selling and profitability with our retail partners.”
Skypad allows users to log in via a secure network — as early as Monday morning — to effortlessly sift through the prior week’s data and view it from a variety of reporting perspectives, from sell-through percentages and top sellers to geographical analysis and retail “door details,” as well as customizable views and reports.
Behind the curtain at Sky IT Group is a production team, research and development team and account management team with “active support” including, telephone/e-mail/on-site user communication, data notifications, training and education. Data integration is a key part of Skypad. The ability to integrate selling data with internal data such as inventory, shipments, ATS, product images, even third-party data such as weather or traffic, has sharpened visibility into the wholesale business.
David Meir Sasson, chief operating officer at Derek Lam, said Skypad’s initial benefit to the company was to “streamline the customer reports and create a central repository. Prior to Skypad, we received numerous weekly reports in different format types, which would take several days to analyze and process to create a summary report.”
Leveraging this platform saves time, users noted, while also creating a new level of analysis for brands — especially for gaining insights about customers. For Derek Lam, the platform and analysis forged a connection between the company’s wholesale and retail businesses.
“Our reports are now automatically pulled from Skypad with greater visibility into sell-through by different parameters — door, category, color, size, etc.,” Sasson explained. “We are also able to analyze the business at the consumer level now that our own retail stores and the department stores are reporting at the same level of detail. Bridging the gap between retail and wholesale has given us a greater understanding of the Derek Lam customer, thereby helping us make better planning, merchandising and customer service decisions.”
Todd Bernstein, vice president of wholesale at Lacoste, noted that Skypad “provides an unparalleled level of dynamic information. It has become the standard in which we analyze our business.”
From here, Jay and Gil Hakami see opportunities to expand in different ways. The first is by adding more functionality to Skypad, such as predictive analytics as well as expand into such areas as home goods and the beauty products segments. Yet the most important expansion will be to working with retailers directly by developing a program that will allow Skypad to be the “engine” behind the distribution of retail sales data to its suppliers.