Pioneering the Future of E-Commerce: An Insight into Divya Karthik’s Innovative Journey

May 5th, 2024

The digital transformation landscape is vividly colored by visionaries like Divya Karthik, who has made a significant mark in the bustling world of e-commerce. As a Site Reliability Engineer at Poshmark, Divya leads the development of innovative solutions that not only enhance user engagement but also streamline efficiency on a global scale. Her pioneering efforts in establishing a live auction marketplace have revolutionized the platform and set new standards for online shopping worldwide.

In this interview, Divya Karthikshares her insights on the challenges and technological advancements that are shaping the e-commerce landscape and outlines her vision for the future of online retail.

About Divya

Divya Karthik is a skilled Site Reliability Engineer currently contributing her expertise to Poshmark, a premier digital platform in the U.S. fashion resale market. In her role, Divya focuses on a range of technical and collaborative tasks to enhance the platform’s infrastructure and reliability. Her responsibilities include supporting and automating infrastructure expansion and maintenance, orchestrating deployments through CI/CD pipelines in collaboration with various development teams, and debugging critical issues as an On-Call engineer. Additionally, she has actively worked on several proof-of-concept to production third-party tool integrations and transitions from monolith to microservice architectures.

Divya has played a key role in pioneering initiatives like the Enterprise Seller Platform and live shopping features at Poshmark. Her background includes a degree in Computer Engineering from UC Davis.

Divya, given your involvement in the thriving ecommerce sector, what are some of the challenges you perceive within this space?

One of the primary challenges lies in distinguishing a marketplace amid competitors. A key focus is on refining user experience and fostering innovation to attract and retain users. Empowering both buyers and sellers with intuitive tools is essential, ensuring they feel supported and equipped to maximize their transactions. Marketplaces strive to stand out by innovating and focusing on user-centric features, aiming to become the preferred choice in a competitive field, fostering engagement and loyalty.

Beyond product features, excelling in ecommerce requires balancing various aspects like sustainability, logistics, and global presence. Embracing sustainability fosters trust and loyalty among eco-conscious customers. Efficient logistics streamline operations and reduce costs, while expanding globally demands an understanding of diverse markets and regulatory landscapes for sustainable growth and competitiveness.

What are some of the key technological advancements or innovations required to support e-commerce features on a global online platform?

Supporting e-commerce features on a global online platform involves managing a myriad of different workflows, such as order processing, inventory management, customer service interactions, and payment processing. Each of these workflows requires careful coordination and robust technological support to ensure a seamless user experience.

In this complex environment, monitoring is perhaps the most crucial tool at our disposal. It allows us to oversee the performance of various systems and workflows in real-time, helping us quickly identify and resolve any issues before they affect the user experience. This continuous monitoring is essential for maintaining the high standards of service and reliability that users expect from an online platform.

Focusing specifically on the live shopping feature, which is a relatively new adaptation in e-commerce in the United States, the need for effective monitoring becomes even more critical. Live shopping is dynamic and highly interactive, demanding flawless video streaming and real-time data processing to engage viewers effectively. To support this, we implement rigorous video quality monitoring and develop robust workflows tailored to manage live streams. This includes ensuring that video delivery is smooth, latency is minimal, and the overall user experience remains engaging and uninterrupted.

By prioritizing comprehensive monitoring across all e-commerce workflows and paying special attention to critical features like live shopping, we can ensure system stability and reliability. This not only enhances customer satisfaction but also bolsters the platform’s reputation for quality and reliability, which are key to maintaining competitive advantage in the fast-paced world of e-commerce.

How do you ensure that an e-commerce platform can cater to diverse markets such as North America and Australia, especially in terms of user experience and technology compliance?

Ensuring that an e-commerce platform effectively caters to diverse markets like North America and Australia requires a comprehensive approach focused on user experience and compliance with local technology standards. Tailoring the platform to meet regional preferences is critical, which involves localizing content, currency, payment methods, and adapting marketing strategies to align with cultural and economic contexts. This localization not only enhances the shopping experience but also helps in building a loyal customer base in each region.

Additionally, the design of the platform must be adaptable and responsive to various devices and screen sizes, considering the variations in device usage between regions. This adaptability ensures that all users, regardless of their preferred device, experience optimal performance and usability. Performance optimization is also crucial and can be achieved through the implementation of robust CDN solutions that reduce latency and improve load times across geographically dispersed markets.

On the compliance front, understanding and adhering to the legal and regulatory frameworks specific to each market is essential. This includes respecting data protection laws and consumer rights, which not only ensures legal compliance but also builds trust with customers. Moreover, providing customer support in local languages and during local business hours enhances user engagement and satisfaction, addressing any concerns or issues promptly and effectively.

What inspired you to venture into the field of ecommerce?

My inspiration to venture into the field of e-commerce stemmed from its inherent focus on people and the dynamic nature of the industry. The e-commerce sector uniquely combines the pursuit of profit with the delivery of solutions that directly impact people’s lives. This dual focus resonates deeply with me, as it involves creating value that enhances everyday experiences and meets diverse consumer needs.

Additionally, e-commerce is an ever-evolving field brimming with innovation and new ideas. The constant growth and the introduction of new technologies and business models keep the sector vibrant and exciting. This environment motivates me to be at the forefront of innovation, where I can contribute to shaping how people shop and interact with products on a global scale. The opportunity to be part of an industry that not only adapts to but also drives changes in consumer behavior and technology is both inspiring and rewarding.

Based on your experience as an SRE engineer, what advice would you offer to budding engineers looking to build and maintain impactful online marketplaces?

As an SRE engineer with experience in the area of online marketplaces, my advice to budding engineers aiming to build and maintain impactful platforms focuses on a few key strategies. First and foremost, scalability and reliability should be at the core of your systems design. It’s crucial to prepare for fluctuating traffic and transaction volumes, which are typical as marketplaces grow. Utilizing cloud services and load balancing can help manage these changes smoothly.

Another critical area is automation. By automating infrastructure provisioning, deployments, testing, and monitoring, you can enhance efficiency and minimize the risks associated with manual processes. Automation not only accelerates the development cycle but also ensures consistency and reliability in operations.

In addition to technical strategies, paying attention to the user experience from a performance perspective is essential. Users expect quick, responsive interactions. As an SRE, your role in optimizing backend performance to reduce latency and improve load times is key to retaining users and encouraging transactions.

Lastly, always keep learning and adapting. The field of online marketplaces is dynamic, with new technologies and approaches constantly emerging. Staying updated with the latest trends and innovations will enable you to apply the most effective solutions and maintain a competitive edge in your projects.

What technological advancements are anticipated to shape the future of live shopping in the e-commerce sector over the next few years?

The future of live shopping in the e-commerce sector is set to be revolutionized by several key technological advancements in the coming years. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are expected to significantly enhance the way consumers interact with products, offering immersive experiences that allow them to visualize items in their own space or on themselves before making a purchase. Alongside this, the deployment of 5G connectivity will ensure that these experiences are delivered with greater speed and reduced latency, making live streams smoother and more engaging.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) will play crucial roles in personalizing the live shopping experience. By analyzing user data and behavior, these technologies can offer real-time product recommendations and tailored offers during live sessions. This personalization will be supported by advanced chatbots and voice assistants, which can provide instant assistance, answer customer queries, and facilitate seamless transactions during live events.

Moreover, the integration of interactive and shoppable video content will allow viewers to interact with products more directly within the video stream itself, such as clicking on items to learn more or to purchase instantly. This capability will be complemented by real-time analytics, enabling retailers to monitor viewer responses and engagement dynamically, allowing them to adjust the content and interactions to optimize the experience and boost sales during live sessions.

These advancements collectively promise a more engaging, efficient, and personalized live shopping experience, making it a more attractive and integral part of e-commerce platforms.

Having judged prestigious events like the Globee Awards and Stevie Awards, what qualities do you look for in potential award-winning innovations?

I focus on several key qualities in potential award-winning innovations. First, I look for companies that tackle niche problems, demonstrating a clear understanding and innovative approach to specific challenges that may not be widely addressed. This specificity often indicates a deep insight into the market and the ability to identify and fill gaps effectively. I assess whether these companies are ahead of the curve, not just in terms of technology, but also in how they anticipate market trends and consumer needs. Being forward-thinking and proactive in problem-solving is a strong indicator of potential long-term success and influence in their industry.

I also consider their growth strategies, particularly those that are unique and well-integrated into their business model. A standout growth strategy often combines creativity with practicality, showing that the company is not only ambitious but also realistic about its capabilities and market conditions.

Lastly, it is crucial that these innovations are supported by a concerted team effort. The role of a cohesive team in driving the innovation forward cannot be overstated. A team that collaborates effectively and leverages diverse strengths is often behind successful and sustainable innovations.

Your articles in journals like ISACA highlight your expertise beyond practical applications. How important is it for innovators to engage with academic and professional communities through writing?

Writing allows innovators to share their insights, methodologies, and advancements with a broader audience. This not only enhances the collective knowledge base but also invites feedback that can refine ideas and foster improvement. By participating in academic and professional dialogues, innovators stay connected with the latest trends, challenges, and solutions in their field, ensuring they remain at the cutting edge. It’s important to note that this doesn’t only include traditional research papers; platforms like Stack Overflow, Devpost, and Medium also offer valuable venues for more informal, yet impactful, exchanges.Writing about new ideas or improvements can also inspire others, potentially leading to new innovations or the advancement of existing technologies. This collective progress is crucial for the evolution of any field.

Can you share a particularly challenging moment in your career and how you overcame it?

Certainly, dealing with the inherent challenges of being on-call as a Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) has taught me the importance of relying on well-established systems and practices to manage incidents effectively. One particularly challenging aspect of being on-call is the unpredictability and the immediate pressure to address issues that can impact large-scale operations.

To handle these situations smoothly, I’ve come to rely heavily on robust escalation policies and comprehensive documentation. These escalation policies are crucial because they outline exactly how and when issues should be escalated to higher-level expertise, ensuring that every incident is addressed by the most qualified personnel without unnecessary delays. This structured approach helps in managing the chaos that can sometimes accompany system outages.

Moreover, well-maintained and accessible documentation has proven invaluable. It offers quick references and guides on handling common problems and troubleshooting steps, which is particularly useful during stressful situations. This documentation ensures that we’re not starting from scratch each time a problem arises, thereby speeding up the resolution process and reducing system downtime.

Outside of your professional life, what are some interests or hobbies that you pursue? How do they influence your professional mindset?

Outside of my professional life, I engage in several activities that not only fulfill my personal interests but also positively influence my professional mindset. As a Yelp Elite, I contribute reviews to support small businesses, which helps me stay connected with community needs and understand the impact of consumer feedback. This experience enhances my empathy and customer-centric approach in my professional life, making me more attentive to client needs and market dynamics.

Additionally, I volunteer as a scholarship reviewer for NCWIT (National Center for

Women and Informatio and organize and host events as a WiCyS (Women in Cybersecurity) board member. These roles have honed my leadership and organizational skills, as they require meticulous planning, coordination, and the ability to inspire and mobilize people towards common goals. These skills are invaluable in my professional setting, especially when leading projects or managing teams.

These pursuits not only allow me to contribute positively to communities that have supported me but also significantly enrich my professional capabilities. They foster a comprehensive leadership style that integrates empathy, strategic planning, and community engagement, which are essential for navigating today’s dynamic professional environments.

From the editor….

Divya Karthik‘s journey is a testament to the power of innovation and dedication in the fast-evolving world of e-commerce. Her contributions not only enhance the shopping experience at Poshmark but also inspire the next generation of engineers and entrepreneurs. With her at the helm of technological advancements, the future of e-commerce is poised to be more interactive, personalized, and user-focused.

As we continue to witness the blending of technology with consumer needs, Divya Karthik’s insights serve as a guiding light for aspiring innovators aiming to make their mark in the digital world.

Samantha Rigby
Samantha Rigby
Samantha is the head of content, lifestyle and entrepreneurial columnist for Best in Australia. She is also a contributor to Forbes and SH. Prior to joining the Best in Au, she was a reporter and business journalist for local newspapers.
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