Hyper-Personalization, Mass Customization and the Demand for Unique Experiences

Hyper-Personalization, Mass Customization and the Demand for Unique Experiences

Hyper-personalization is often considered to be the ultimate ambition for brands and businesses. However, providing extraordinary levels of personalization to each individual as they interact with marketing, retail, or in the wider realms of customer experience, assumes a level of prior knowledge that is extremely challenging to achieve, even with today’s big data capabilities. A powerful alternative, mass personalization, or mass customization as it’s also commonly known, is a more achievable strategy that brings its own rewards. What sets these two similar-sounding concepts apart?

Hyper-personalization

Let’s start with hyper-personalization. Go back a hundred years and imagine being a fly on the wall in the village stores. The local storekeepers would probably greet everyone in the village by name. They would know where they lived, their family history, their station in life. A customer coming through the door might see the storekeeper readying their regular purchases before they’d even got as far as the counter. Once there, the storekeeper might ask after a new baby or aging relative and suggest appropriate goods. It wouldn’t have been considered anything other than normal at the time, but this intimate relationship exemplifies hyper-personalization: deep knowledge, built up gradually, with an awareness of their customer’s situation and likely state of mind and able to anticipate the right solutions.

In today’s digital world, a new kind of hyper-personalization has become possible and is already in use by industry giants like Amazon, Netflix and Starbucks to provide unique experiences at scale. They are leveraging artificial intelligence, algorithms and real-time data to provide highly relevant, curated content or communications that anticipate the needs of every individual user at the perfect moment for them. 

Product recommendations are most common – for example, Netflix employs machine learning to create unique show recommendations for every user. For their hit series Stranger Things, the company designed multiple thumbnails to appeal to different users based on their likes and dislikes, highlighting different aspects of the show from specific actors to horror and sci-fi, children’s adventure, even romance1. Starbucks utilizes data from their long-running loyalty app to send their customers emails featuring individualized offers, based on their previous buying behavior and known preferences2. Customers are happy to share data, knowing that it means they will receive offers that resonate with their needs.

But the truth is that hyper-personalization is still an extraordinary challenge. In a metaverse, almost everything is virtual, making it possible for people to use multiple log-ins, or alternatively share a log-in with several members of the family. This presents a problem for any AI or machine learning-based engine: who is the person interacting and what exactly are they looking for? Netflix asks people to self-identify when they arrive on the site, but it may not always solve the issue. 

Hyper-personalization can also run the risk of seeming like a ‘blunt instrument’ if used without subtlety or high-quality data. Levels of sophistication are growing but it will take time before all brands and businesses can anticipate needs in a way that feels like beautiful serendipity, rather than sometimes coming across as intrusive or ‘creepy’. But it’s not the only method of delivering targeted, individualized goods and services that make people feel special. 

Mass customization

For many years, consumer brands sold their products via resellers. The brands focused on what was core to them: innovation and manufacturing good products. As they relied on the retailers to sell their merchandise to consumers via stores, brands did not gather data on the consumers, their retailers did. With the ubiquitous reach of the Internet, brands can now access consumers directly, a strategy referred to as D2C or Direct to Consumer. But what if they do not know enough about these consumers to give them a personalized experience in the first instance? 

Enter mass customization. This is another way to cater to the growing demand for focus on individual needs. Thinking back to our local storekeeper, the advent of the industrial revolution meant that the old-fashioned hyper-personalized approach largely dwindled in favor of chain stores and the mass-produced goods which have dominated the marketplace for more than a century. Now there are new ways to combine mass production’s economies of scale with digital technologies that allow individual customers to make a number of choices about their goods or services which are then designed to order. By orchestrating modular designs, online configurators, 3D scanners and flexible production systems everything from eyewear to houses can be customized, and though customers are often charged a premium for the service to make it viable financially, they’re happy to do so3. It’s a powerful response to the increased desire for personalization, for people to feel that their products have been made especially for them. 

For Dell the ability to customize desktop models has been fundamental to its strategy since it was founded in the 1980s, allowing customers to choose the appropriate processor, memory capability and screen type for their particular needs and budget4. In the automotive industry, mass customization has been the norm for some years, with customers able to make a number of decisions – engine, gearbox, style package, paint color – in order to configure their perfect model. In 1999 Nike made it possible to customize their sneakers, and many customers have been only too delighted to pay a premium for doing so, given the kudos that their unique new footwear brought them5.

In comparison to hyper-personalization, mass customization creates its own benefits. A business may know nothing about the potential customer who has landed on their site, but as the customer interacts with their product offering, they will gradually learn more and more. Best of all it won’t feel intrusive, or like an off-putting ‘data grab’; instead, it’s part of a natural process towards giving the customer exactly what they want. Moreover, for existing brands, mass customization offers an opportunity for a revenue stream with increased profits, selling direct to the consumer, without the additional costs retailer and wholesaler relationships entail. 

Customized cookies

Take OREO for example. Owned by multinational Mondelez, this iconic brand sells ‘the world’s top selling cookie’ through wholesalers and retailers, the result being that they had a limited direct relationship with their customers. BORN worked with them to create a new flagship digital experience, OREOiD. On the website www.oreo.com, users are empowered to customize their OREO cookies, designing their own unique, authentic cookies that can be boxed and sent as gifts. They can choose different flavors, dips and colored sprinkles, even add photos and messages. 

The site won four Webby awards and is now widely admired. The experience on the site is not just a delight for the user, who can enjoy the playful, process of interacting with the brand alongside treating a loved one or celebrating a special occasion with their gift. It’s also incredibly useful for the brand in their bid to develop a holistic view of their customers. When a user decides to go ahead with their purchase, they will necessarily need to submit practical details like their name, physical address and email address, what we might call ‘longitudes’, and they will be happy to do so. But they will also reveal their emotional sensibilities and relationships, their ‘latitudes’. For instance, we might learn that they like celebrating birthdays, that they have a sister whose favourite color is purple and lives in Chicago. Or that they work for a corporation who regularly have events for a large number of people and whose brand colors are red and white. Through playful interactions OREO can be privy to a whole sphere of information created almost effortlessly from the customization journey.

Not only did OREO enjoy record sales from their new venture, in addition they are gathering the building blocks for hyper-personalization, in the form of customer information, should they desire to go down that route in the future. 

Of course, people may behave differently on a website from how they do in a store, or on the phone to a call center. By adding in details gained from interactions in other channels to the data gathered from mass customization, brands can build their view of each individual customer until it gradually come into sharper and sharper focus.

Whichever route they choose to go down, the potential rewards for companies who can successfully implement hyper-personalization or mass customization are great. Furthermore, while businesses are boosting sales by providing highly relevant product recommendations or creating new revenue and data streams by empowering users to customize their products, consumers are winning too. They’re happy to pay a premium to gain access to the targeted and customized experiences that they desire, and still finding added value.

For more information on BORN’s work with OREO, please visit here.

Footnotes

  1. 3 Examples Of Hyper Personalized Marketing Campaigns, Wedia, https://www.wedia-group.com/brand-content/3-examples-of-hyper-personalized-marketing-campaigns/
  1. Why Hyper-Personalization Is The Future Of Marketing (And How To Do It), WebEngage, https://webengage.com/blog/hyper-personalization-marketing-future/
  1. How Technology Can Drive The Next Wave Of Mass Customization, McKinsey & Company, https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/dotcom/client_service/bto/pdf/mobt32_02-09_masscustom_r4.ashx
  1. 3 Success Stories Of Mass Customization, TopMostBlog, https://www.topmostblog.com/3-success-stories-of-mass-customization/
  1. Nike’s Online Customers Can Step Into Designer’s Shoes, Los Angeles Times, https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1999-nov-23-fi-36665-story.html

Draw Them in with Content: Enabling Buying Decisions through Visual Commerce

Draw Them in with Content: Enabling Buying Decisions through Visual Commerce

The content that goes behind selling a product has rapidly scaled over the past decade, with more and more features to capture user-generated content and professional footage to sell products. This trend has been styled Visual Commerce and is a key part of the buyer’s journey – approximately 75% of internet users search for visual content before carrying out a purchase1.

The path to a sale has never been easy. Buyer journeys at a brick-and-mortar store always included some amount of comparison shopping and brands tried to influence buyers by helping them visualize their product on a mannequin or styled as part of a setting, or having a sales associate available to talk to. 

With eCommerce becoming all-pervasive and accelerating faster than retail these days, brands need to take over even more of that visualization in order to provide a seamless omnichannel experience – that is, to persuade a buyer to make an informed purchase decision without being able to touch and feel it. 

Visual commerce is about using compelling content in context to attract, influence and convert buyers on their journey. In short, heightening user engagement to drive sales.

High-quality content for product visualization

What they need is a step-up from static 2D product images. What they need is a branded visual experience, one that incorporates interactive content that is engaging as well as informational and is consistent in its messaging. 

Lookbooks and digital catalogs using large, high-resolution photos and livestreaming videos that show 360° views, as well as entertaining content such as GIFs and memes, are included in this list.

Add curated user-generated content as well as shoppability layers to visual assets to create shortcuts in the sales process. 

Immersive content using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) can project a homeware product into the users home or help buyers visualize an accessory as part of a look in 3D. IKEA’s AR app goes as far as helping the buyer design entire rooms2. The more diverse your media, the higher the search engine rankings

User-generated content provides social proof and builds trust. According to a Bazaarvoice survey in December 2020, nearly two-thirds (62%) of consumers from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the UK, and the US said they were more likely to buy a product if they were able to view customer photos and videos. Roughly a quarter of them were influenced by UGC on or used Facebook to make purchases based on UGC3. In fashion, up 9 out of 10 shoppers trust an influencer more than traditional advertisements or celebrity endorsements and this, alongside peer reviews (55%) and social media (74%) impact purchase decisions4.

There exist tools and platforms that allow you to

  • aggregate posts from your users on multiple social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest
  • curate the best content for your site
  • tag your products on their posts
  • display them as galleries or besides specific products, and
  • study the analytics of user engagement. 

Such shoppable posts can take users directly to the payments page and avoid extra time till purchase. 

Besides providing fresh and eye-catching imagery at low cost, using UGC and reviews also is a badge of authenticity, develops customer loyalty and builds trust. Would-be buyers can also see the context and the lifestyle in which the products are being used.

Product discovery through a personalized experience 

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are the ever-evolving technologies that underpin the rich personalization features of visual commerce. They help brands offer ever more individualized and dynamic content, offers, and recommendations to customers based on their demographics, preferences as well as past and present behavior. Content works harder over more buying journeys.

AI-powered visual search improves product discoverability. This feature enables people to go straight to a product using pictures clicked on their mobile devices, thereby increasing engagement, conversion rates and consequently, customer lifetime value. ASOS is a good example of an eCommerce website that does this well.

Visual configurators can also give a 360° view of the product and empower buyers by offering them options to change or personalize details. Allow them to point to a part of the product or use icons rather than use naming conventions that they may be unfamiliar with. Allow them to save and start over.

Gucci configurator for knitwear

Easy and seamless experience

The end goal of visual commerce is to reduce friction in the buying journey. The experience overall needs to be easy and seamless, else it will result in abandoned carts. IKEA users, for example, don’t love that they have to open up the IKEA website or app, besides the AR app, to complete the purchase. Amazon, on its part, had a consumer camera called the Echo Look, which enabled users to take videos and selfies, before folding its functionality into the Amazon shopping app.

Visual commerce for a digital world

Fashion shows are being reimagined as heightened visual experiences for a digital tomorrow, to market to buyers who are not there in person5. Even in B2B industries such as manufacturing, the lack of trade shows and exhibitions have given a push to visual commerce, showing that visual commerce is here to stay6

For more information about BORN Group’s expertise in brand and customer experience, click here.

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Footnotes

1. Visual Commerce 2017: How Image Recognition and Augmentation Are Changing Retail, eMarketer, https://www.emarketer.com/Report/Visual-Commerce-2017-How-Image-Recognition-Augmentation-Changing-Retail/2002059

2. IKEA’s Revamped AR App Lets You Design Entire Rooms, Wired, 20 Apr 2021, https://www.wired.com/story/ikea-revamped-ar-app-design-entire-rooms/

3. User-generated visual content can influence purchases, eMarketer, 21 Feb 2021, https://www.emarketer.com/content/user-generated-visual-content-influence-purchases

4.  The State of Fashion 2018, McKinsey and the Business of Fashion,  https://cdn.businessoffashion.com/reports/The_State_of_Fashion_2018_v2.pdf

5.  5 Digital Artists Reimagining The Fashion Show, Vogue UK, 23 May 2021, https://www.vogue.co.uk/fashion/article/digital-artists-reimagining-the-fashion-show

6.  COVID-19 Driving Visual Commerce Accelerator for Hand-Selected Manufacturers, Manufacturing Tomorrow, 2 Jun 2020, https://www.manufacturingtomorrow.com/article/2020/05/covid-19-driving-visual-commerce-accelerator-for-hand-selected-manufacturers/15326/

How to Enhance Your Omnichannel Strategy With a Marketplace

How to Enhance Your Omnichannel Strategy With a Marketplace

By: Roshan Idnani

Online marketplaces are the future. In 2020, enterprise marketplaces grew at double the rate of overall eCommerce, with growth topping 81% year-over-year in Q4 – proving the clear utilization of online marketplaces in creating revenue and expanding horizons.

Brands should consider an online marketplace for many reasons including, reaching a broader demographic, expanding offering, increasing revenue and more:

  • Reaching a broader demographic: Brands can expand their methods of generating revenue by widening the range of customers. By growing assortment to meet more of consumers’ needs, online marketplaces empower companies to reach a broader audience and drive up revenue.
  • Expanding offerings: Marketplaces are essential to growing your online product assortment. On average in 2020, retailers operating enterprise marketplaces grew their assortment by 32% and benefited from an even larger gain of 81% in overall GMV.
  • Increasing revenue: eCommerce platforms increase revenue. Additionally, companies can grow revenue through the marketplace by incorporating marketplace products into digital advertising campaigns, ultimately capturing more spend from buyers as they turn to eCommerce for a greater share of their purchases. Using marketing money would be costly in the beginning, but prove essential in the long run to build up a network of loyal customers.

Brands can do a number of things to enhance their eCommerce business with marketplace solutions. We identified methods and tips to grow your eCommerce business;

  • Use digital tools to enhance your brand: Using search engine optimization (SEO) and tools such as web analytics and competitive benchmarking will help put your business ahead of your peers. In fact, enterprise marketplaces lead to SEO benefits: retailers that leverage the enterprise marketplace model see a 34% in overall organic site traffic, benefiting from additional demand and relevance without additional marketing spend.
  • Create trustworthy partnerships: With an enterprise marketplace, your buyers’ experience is in the hands of your sellers. Therefore, it is an important practice to vet and form close relationships with your partners to ensure the continued strength of your eCommerce business.
  • Don’t be afraid to advertise: Nowadays, businesses spend loads of time and money on advertising, and your marketplace should be an integral part of that investment. While keeping track of your money, be sure to invest in customer acquisition and putting your brand out there – both for your owned assortment and for your marketplace offers.

BORN Group is thrilled to be a partner of Mirakl, the industry’s first and most advanced marketplace SaaS platform. With Mirakl, organizations across B2B and B2C industries can launch marketplaces faster, grow bigger, and operate with confidence as they exceed rising customer expectations. Platforms are the new competitive advantage in eCommerce, and the world’s most trusted brands choose Mirakl for its comprehensive solution of technology, expertise, and the Mirakl Connect ecosystem to unlock the power of the platform business model for them. 

One of our joint marketplace success stories, iShopChangi allowed the leading travel hub to achieve an exceptional omnichannel solution that will serve millions of travelers for years to come. The goal of the project was to create an omnipresent shopping platform to install Changi Airport Group as the leader in their industry. BORN’s biggest challenge was to create a system which could accommodate both the remote and in-person practices Changi Airport Group had in place. With BORN Group’s help, millions of users visit the site to achieve perks such as duty-free shopping and earning rewards when shopping.

For more information surrounding BORN Group and our marketplace offering, please visit here.

Shopping in Augmented Reality: The Impact of AR on eCommerce

Shopping in Augmented Reality: The Impact of AR on eCommerce

In 2016, Pokémon Go drew millions of individuals around the world into the streets to ostensibly play a game that simultaneously familiarized them with location-based services and augmented reality (AR) technology. 

What was once a gimmick in apps such as Snapchat and Instagram to add real-time special effects, transformations or filters to pics – bunny ears, anyone? – is now big business. 

AR has been on the radar of developers and marketers since 2017, when with a view to making the technology go mainstream, Apple announced its augmented reality framework. Called ARKit, the framework made it easier to develop apps for iOS apps and games. Consequently, the options available to brands have exploded.

Total spend worldwide on AR as well as virtual reality (VR) is expected to have topped USD 18.8 billion in 2020, an increase of 78% over 2019. This is set to rise considerably through to 2024, reaching USD 72.8 billion.1 Consumer mobile AR experiences spending alone is expected to rise from USD 1.38 billion in 2020 to USD 1.93 billion in 2021, before climbing to USD 4.18 billion by 2024.2

Brands as diverse as Gucci and Ikea are using AR technology to enhance their user experience with virtual trials.

Not surprisingly, AR has especially gained traction with beauty and furniture brands as people saw what filters could do to faces. Beauty brands such as Ulta were some of the first adopters of AR. L’Oreal ModiFace develops custom AR hair, cosmetics, and jewelry apps for brands like Amazon, Sephora, and Estée Lauder. Perfect’s YouCam’s 3D face scanning enables virtual makeovers. Samsung’s Bixby Vision uses ModiFace’s platform to let users try on makeup from Sephora, CoverGirl, and Laneige.3

Gucci let customers see what their Ace sneakers would look like on their feet, using technology developed by Wannaby, a Belarus-based startup, whose Wanna Kicks app also showcases other sneaker brands such as Nike, Adidas and Allbirds. Nike’s app can also measure customers’ foot sizes. AR has been a part of Gucci’s marketing mix before. The brand offered a customization service for select sneakers, bag,s and clothing items by equipping stores with a tool that let customers point an iPad or iPhone camera at a real product available in-store, personalize it and then see it in a real-world setting.

Snap, the maker of the Snapchat app, is looking to AR to make its platform profitable and commerce-oriented. Snap said it will be investing in more features to drive customer engagement and as an advertising tool4. Companies such as Target and Dior even have profiles on Snapchat.

Finally, Ikea has offered AR as part of their in-app experience since 2014 but their Place app takes it up a notch with users able to render digital renderings of their furniture in their living room. 

At this point though, while most brands are using AR the way movies use special effects – to enhance the user experience – most brands can’t definitively point to how much AR results in sales. Ulta says they look at AR as a way to ensure brand loyalty5

Regular fashion brands haven’t embraced AR as much because there are many ways clothes can look on a person depending on their body shape. ASOS is one of the few brands that have with its See My Fit function allowing users to visualize a dress on 16 virtual models between sizes 4 and 186

The future of AR is, to put it mildly, bright. Snap, which made the concept of filters commonplace, is betting on smart glasses, but these are first aimed at developers and creators7. Facebook and Apple are also expected to debut smart glasses for consumers in the next few years.

Besides clarifying business objectives and goals, brands looking to AR tools should choose carefully the kinds of AR tools as well as their licenses, and make sure they are compatible with the devices and operating systems that are in play.

What kinds of AR tools can you choose from? 

  • Location-based tools use GPS or position-detectors to determine current location, then adjust the environment and create objects in it. 
  • Marker-based tools are based on image recognition and the more advanced they are, the better they are able to detect 3D markers and real-life objects. 
  • Superimposition-based AI where objects are overlaid onto a real environment. One good example is IKEA’s Place app. 
  • Projection-based AR are the simplest type of AR and just project holograms onto a surface. 
  • AR codes use the basic idea of QR codes to add interactive content to the world around you. Amazon’s Augmented Reality App, for example, allows you to scan the QR codes on their packing boxes for interactive, shareable experiences.

At BORN, we pride ourselves on human-centered design. If you would like to know more about our capabilities in augmented reality and other forward-looking innovation, click here.

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Footnotes

1.  VR and AR market size, Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/591181/global-augmented-virtual-reality-market-size/

2. Consumer mobile augmented reality (AR) experiences spending worldwide from 2019 to 2024, Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1222728/consumer-mobile-augmented-reality-spending/

3. Gucci’s iOS app lets you try shoes on remotely in AR, 26 June 2019, VentureBeat, https://venturebeat.com/2019/06/26/guccis-ios-app-lets-you-try-shoes-on-remotely-in-ar/

4.  How Snap aims to turn augmented reality into a monetization machine, ZDnet.com, https://www.zdnet.com/article/how-snap-aims-to-turn-augmented-reality-into-a-monetization-machine/

5.  Despite advancements, AR struggles to take off in retail, Modern Retail, 22 Jan 2020, https://www.modernretail.co/retailers/despite-advancement-ar-struggles-to-take-off-in-retail/

6. Asos is using AR to promote and sell fresh products in lockdown, The Drum, https://www.thedrum.com/news/2020/05/18/asos-using-ar-promote-and-sell-fresh-products-lockdown

7. Snap Plans Hardware Push With AR Spectacles, Drone, The Information, 30 Mar 2021, https://www.theinformation.com/articles/snap-plans-hardware-push-with-ar-spectacles-drone

Navigating Drupal: End of Life and Upcoming Releases

Navigating Drupal: End of Life and Upcoming Releases

Drupal 7 and 8 reach end of life in 2022, and Drupal 10 is scheduled to release in 2022! Are you confused?

By: Rakesh James, Drupal Architect at BORN Group

It is true that Drupal 7 and 8 are reaching the End of Life in November 2022 & 2021. Here we outline and clarify what this transition should mean to you as a Drupal consumer or user. As a leading digital transformation agency, it is our responsibility to provide our partners with the correct information and direction to smoothly transform your Drupal website into the latest version of the software, as efficiently and comprehensively as possible.  

What is meant by the end of life for both Drupal 7 and 8?

Drupal community will no longer support versions 7 and 8. Thus items including; security fixes, updates on the admin interfaces, bug fixes on the existing contributed projects like modules and themes documentation, will not be supported.

As a Drupal 7 or 8 owner, what does this mean for you?

This means your Drupal sites need to be upgraded to the latest version of Drupal. By upgrading Drupal to the latest version, you can continue to receive security updates, updated admin interface features, a receive continuous adaption of new features and modern technologies. As technology continues to develop and move faster, Drupal as an ecosystem is expanding and adapting as well. Upgrading will allow you to scale your application into other platforms on the internet.

How does one navigate a Drupal 7 to 9 uprade?

Drupal 7 or 6 site owners are a big step toward Drupal’s latest version, Drupal 9 because it’s needed as part of the migration process. Drupal’s latest versions significantly changed the way content and configuration is stored within the database. For a complete transformation of Drupal 6 and 7 sites to the newest version of Drupal, we need to address the following steps;

Step 1: Migrate Configurations and Content

It’s critical to migrate configurations including; content types, field definitions, and user roles. The content migration includes nodes, users, and taxonomy terms, which are examples of content entities.

Step 2: Upgrading Contributed and Custom Modules

Almost all the significant modules offer an upgrade path to Drupal’s latest version, Drupal 9. If not, you may need to do custom migration or port to the newest version of Drupal. Since Drupal 6 and 7 utilizes procedural programming style and since Drupal 8 there were significant changes made to Object-Oriented programming, your custom module and functionality leveraged in Drupal 6 or 7 needs to be rewritten to achieve Drupal 9 version compatibility.

Step 3: Theme Rebuild in Drupal 9

Following the migration of content, configuration and modules, we need to rebuild the theme in Drupal 9. As the structure of the theme has changed significantly, the theme cannot be migrated automatically. Drupal 9 leverages a twig template system for theming instead of PHP. 

In Drupal 9, core ships with migration modules that helps you to migrate content and configurations. Another automated migration tool, Acquia, allows us to migrate available modules leveraging the Acquia Cloud Platform. 

How does one navigate a Drupal 8 to 9 uprade?

Compared to Drupal 7, Drupal 8 to 9 is the easiest upgrade available and doesn’t require a full migration process. First Drupal 8 sites should be updated to the latest release of the Drupal 8 version. Then using depreciation API, BORN Group rewrite’s the custom module and code to achieve Drupal 9 compatibility. The newest version of almost all the major Drupal 8 contributed modules is compatible with Drupal 9. 

In conclusion, If you are a Drupal 7 site owner, it is best to upgrade your website to Drupal 9. But it is a bit more significant process compared to upgrading from Drupal 8 to 9.

For more information regarding our Drupal service offerings or to connect with out team, please visit here.

eMarketplaces: Unlocking The Value of Platform Economy

eMarketplaces: Unlocking The Value of Platform Economy

By: Aditya Basu

Unlocking & navigating the platform economy through a nuanced ecosystem strategy are en vogue these days, both in boardroom discussions and consumer preferences. Today, the world’s 6 most valuable companies by market capitalization and around 80% of the world’s unicorn startups operate a digital ecosystem that enables two-sided market dynamics and have gained enormous market share through network effects.

Platform businesses bring together producers, sellers, and consumers in high-value exchanges. Their chief assets are information and interactions, which together are also the source of the value they create and their competitive advantage. One of the classic examples of leveraging the platform economy through achieving critical mass & network effect is through the meteoric rise of Apple’s iPhones between 2007 – 2015. Though Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, and LG collectively controlled 90% of the industry’s global profits in 2006, by 2015 the iPhone singlehandedly generated 92% of global profits by leveraging the power of platforms through a two-sided marketplace strategy.

McKinsey forecasted that 30% of all global economic activity, $60 trillion, will be mediated by platforms and ecosystems in 10 years’ time & Gartner says that “By 2023, at least 70% of the enterprise marketplaces launched will serve B2B transactions.” Yet, only 3% of established companies worldwide have adopted an active marketplace strategy. 

While the platform economy offers the most profitable & lucrative business model, online marketplaces are tough to build and achieve the “Critical Mass.” The classic chicken & egg conundrum, “To attain a critical mass of buyers, you need a critical mass of suppliers—but to attract suppliers, you need a lot of buyers.” 

We are in the midst of a seismic shift in business and society. Understanding platform strategy will be vital to grasp tomorrow’s economic models.

Evolution of Brand Economy: Omnichannel to Ecosystem Play

Today’s customers increasingly expect a seamless, integrated, consistent, and personalized experience with their service providers which current multi-channel models, with their multiple silos of customer contact, are unable to provide. A fully integrated response to these new customer requirements will need to be both customer-driven and omnichannel in nature. As we speak, large conglomerates are struggling with the “IF & HOW” to leverage digital platforms and ecosystem models for their industries. The key CXO challenge today is to create a core platform that can deliver incremental growth along with the new business & operating models around customers, partners & competitors.

Digital marketplaces have been the pulse of the consumer industry, yet many brands struggle to strike the correct chord. The shift in consumer behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digitization even further. However, the online marketplace model has persisted, driven by consumers seeking the convenience and broad assortment that marketplaces provide. In fact, online marketplaces now represent 58% of global web sales, totaling more than $2 trillion annually.

Broad Pivots of Marketplace Operations: Strategy to Execution

The typical marketplace model has millions of customers, multiple systems, and complex operations. Any brand trying to enter the marketplace will have to swim through the chaos to ace their digital marketplace strategy. We simplify the Marketplace model from the lens of 5 broad pivots of Marketplace Operator, Enterprise commerce & marketing capabilities, the right partnerships & alliances in Fulfillment, logistics & Financial services along with building a best in class Tech & Data Ecosystem, as depicted in the graphic below.

Our key capabilities encompass our methodology of Imagine, Build and Run; we develop and implement strategies for customers to grow profitably in a borderless, digitally-and-physically connected world. We lead brands from strategy to execution by setting up feasible business & operational models, defining KPIs, setting up integrated applications to enable associates, and finally delivering exceptional customer experience driven by our Stella Framework.

A few notable value drivers on Marketplace implementation include, but are not limited to;

  • Revenue augmentation with multi-channel & cross-border sales
  • Improved customer targeting & analytics through digital marketing, micro-segmentation & social integrations
  • Cross-sell & Up-sell opportunities through tailored pricing, product bundling & increase AoV (share of wallet)
  • Business process optimization
  • Walking the Talk Leadership: Marketplace Implementation across the globe

Walking The Talk Leadership: Marketplace Implementation Across The Globe

Recently we were approached by one of Asia’s largest transportation hubs to become their digital growth partner, to develop & manage its next-generation omnichannel e-Commerce Marketplace for onboarding and tenant management. BORN developed an experience-led Marketplace platform to provide a personalized shopping experience for Sellers (B2B), consumers (B2C), Enterprise users (B2E). The implementation has helped them to optimize marketing effectiveness, improve operational efficiency with faster time to market, accelerate conversions, and enable topline growth through upselling & cross-sell.

For more information in regard to BORN Group’s Marketplace offerings and further case studies, please inquire here.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Wanted: The Atelier reBORN

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Wanted: The Atelier reBORN

By: Adam Weissman, Back End Associate Developer at BORN Group

For boot camp grads and those early in their tech careers, the conventional
“job-seeker” wisdom is often less about lighting the spark that will make your star burn brightest, but finding a stepping stone that isn’t so slippery that your ambitions are extinguished before your journey even begins. In other words, they say, “Get into a training program, apprenticeship, or junior position as prestigious as possible, so that a second job will be the reward for the first.” While that mindset might be “practical” it disregards that not all training programs are about transforming you from a round peg to fit a square hole, and not all “stepping stones” are for crossing streams — some are for climbing mountains. 

Would-be associates at any company should consider the larger ecosystem of talent, and people they’ll be working with and learning from.

But how do you know if a company is just for crossing a stream, or the mountain to climb? It comes down to whether the associate training program is a factory or an atelier. The atelier, as mentioned here, is best represented in its ideal ‘graduates:’ the Leonardo Da Vincis, Michelangelos, Raphaels, and many more whose work you know, but names you’ve never heard of. The emphasis and goal of the High Renaissance atelier (1490s-1527) was to produce work worthy of the top art patrons of the day. In 2021, we might substitute art commissions for eCommerce builds, and the patrons for today’s leading brands. 

The BORN Associate Program IS the modern equivalent to the renaissance atelier. The analogy starts with each project-build destined to be its own masterpiece, but goes further with each of BORN’s Practices serving as a quarry; with each custom build: Arctic Fox, Bulldog, Eagle, or Bison (supporting leading eCommerce platforms spanning; Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Adobe Commerce Cloud, SAP Customer Experience, or Shopify Plus) acting as a slab of marble waiting to take life. 

But the atelier is truly reborn in the relationships forged by associates with each other, and the Tech Leads that raise them up. In the 2021 class of Salesforce Associates, Tech Leads Matt Meagher and Chris Connell mentored the associates on the nuances of platform-specific problem-solving. Answering questions like; what can go right and what can go wrong, as well as passing down “unwritten documentation” and debugging techniques the way a Master Sculptor might illuminate secrets from one generation to the next. 

“Documentation can teach you only so much. Hands-on experience with the platform, day-to-day tools, and problem-solving techniques is where the real true comprehension happens,” stated Chris Connell, SFCC Tech Lead at BORN Group. 

“I tell anyone confused on how something works to ‘follow the path.’ Not sure what this is doing? What code is it using? What code is that using? Being able to trace that usually leads to discovery. I show them how the codebase can become documentation,” added Matt Meagher, Front End Tech Lead at BORN Group.

Lastly, the BORN Associate Program not only sets new hires on track to realize their potential as technicians with trade tools like Javascript, The Salesforce Platform, Git, and beyond — the way in which Leonardo Da Vinci or Raphael would’ve been masters of mixing their own paints and “techniques of the brush” — but as artisan problem solvers capable of conquering legacy code from pre-built solutions, similar to how Michelangelo might’ve had to reimagine and reengineer St. Peter’s Basilica after 40 years of construction and five earlier architects.

“We are creating a work environment where we consistently identify our team’s strengths, weaknesses, interests, and values by maintaining open, effective communication and ongoing encouragement. Based on these assessments we regularly promote new roles and responsibilities to challenge each one of us within the organization,” stated Kevin Yao, Salesforce Practice Lead at BORN Group.

And so, as the BORN Associate Program brings the atelier ‘full circle’, we come back to the point of those bootcamp grads and early tech-career starters that might be wondering, “Where do I go from here?” If you’re looking for a program that will help you realize your potential, where once you ‘graduate’ to production work every project is as its own commission, where the work you do is always fresh, then keep an eye out on BORN’s career page for updates surrounding the next Associate Program.

“Fostering a learning-based culture is paramount to growth, retention and satisfaction. Watching the new energy brought in by each batch of associates is infectious. The maturation of those leading the program gain each go-around is inspiring. The unbridled success of this program is inspiring adoption in other capabilities and geographies. I am personally excited to see the growth that comes out of these types of efforts in the coming years!” stated Dustin Holmstrom, Head of Digital Architecture, North America at BORN Group.