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.

Best Practices: 10 Trends in ERP Implementation

Best Practices: 10 Trends in ERP Implementation

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software has undergone significant changes since its earliest incarnations. ERP has historically consisted of monolithic standalone systems dedicated to specific business processes found, for instance, in early Manufacturing Resource Management (MRM) systems1. These implementations were limited in scope and restricted to local instances unlike the distributed systems in use more recently. That sort of system did not last in the fast-paced world of today’s digital agencies.

Current ERP solutions are more flexible and configurable than ever, with many ERP vendors moving to cloud-based solutions. These systems can be upgraded and configured on the fly with little to no need for on-site support. Alongside this shift toward configurability and flexibility afforded by cloud solutions, we’ve also seen a broader movement to integrate a range of innovative contemporary technological paradigms. For instance, with the use of the cloud, many vendors have begun to conceive of ERP as a SaaS rather than a traditional licensing model. Other offerings include increased integration of data and analytics, which can help improve productivity, more tiered ERP services, security features, support for mobile devices, the Internet of Things, and the use of Artificial Intelligence.

Overall, many of these trends can be attributed to a significant change in the landscape of the ERP vendor industry. Particularly, we’ve seen a movement away from yesterday’s monolithic ERP behemoths and toward the possibilities introduced by smaller industry players and startups. It is because of these “disruptors” to traditional ERP solution models that we’ve seen ERP integrate many of the advances that erupt in other areas of the tech industry while also offering novel innovations that stand on their own. Here we outline ten of the top trends occurring in the ERP landscape today, especially as they apply to digital agencies.

1. Cloud solutions 

With the fast-paced nature of today’s digital landscape, the ability for your ERP solution to be distributed, scalable, and configurable on-the-fly has become perhaps more important than ever. Recall, for instance, Forbes’s recent description of today’s ad industry as The Agility Era,2 a phrase that poignantly captures the industry’s need for flexibility and on-demand configuration. This designation comes into particularly sharp focus when choosing an ERP solution. You need to be agile and flexible. The cloud helps to facilitate this need in unprecedented ways.

Note, that the shift to cloud-based ERP solutions didn’t fall out of the sky. The trend has been emerging since the mid-1990s wherein, rather than concentrating on enhancing core functionality, ERP companies are moving toward reconfiguring their systems for cloud compatibility. As Frank Scavo, president of management consulting firm Strativa, explains, “Many companies are finding it easier to add in cloud-based point solutions for things like human capital management, CRM [customer relationship management], expense management and other functions.”3 With the cloud, such improvements can be thrown in ad-hoc with minimal to no downtime.

2. SaaS systems

As part and parcel of the move to the cloud, many ERP solutions have begun to operate through a software subscription model or as a Software as a Service, or SaaS. For digital agencies, this adds an important layer of convenience and flexibility over a traditional software licensing model. With ERP delivered as SaaS, many of the time-consuming software pitfalls like site-wide upgrades, security issues, and costly user provisioning, are reduced or eliminated altogether. As Pcmag explains, “Traditional ERP applications are stored on your servers, which means you’re responsible for upfront hardware costs, long-term hardware maintenance and expansion, and data backup and recovery. SaaS-based apps are stored on cloud-based servers, which are much less expensive, much quicker to update and scale, and don’t take up any valuable office space”4. By using a multi-tenant SaaS model, your ERP is fully scalable and grows as your agency increases in size, impact, and productivity.

3. Data Utilization

The move to the cloud has also allowed the broad-level use of data to improve ERP functionality. Imagine a customer relationship management software that is capable of building sophisticated models of your highest performing customer demographics and then integrate this information across your agency’s business operations. Or perhaps you’d like to base a proposed HR investment in business development on analytics that relate BD employee performance with overall profit figures. These are only a few of the applications that become possible with a robust ERP solution that integrates powerful data sources for a competitive advantage.

Such possibilities based on the integration of data in ERP solutions will only continue to expand. As TriCore Solutions CEO Mark Clayman noted, “Having powerful, cloud-based platforms allows companies to use predictive analytics and analyze business operations more closely.” He continues, “Companies are just now skimming the surface of what’s possible when aggregating data from outside their company—pooling information from suppliers, for example—to make real-time operational adjustments”5.The best advice for marketing and ad agencies: start utilizing data in your ERP solution today.

4. More tiered services

As digital agencies grow, some will adopt multi-tiered business structures. If your agency does not already have an HQ and subsidiaries, the prospect may be just around the corner, or it may remain for some time a distant goal. Traditionally, ERPs have not addressed these tiered structures directly; ERP functionality was generally the same regardless of which business hierarchy was using it. Over the years, though, many have asked how an effective ERP solution could better support such a tiered business structure. Thankfully, ERP systems have begun to fully support such tiered structures, for instance, by offering specific services to the top-tier headquarters and others as designated for the operation of subsidiaries6. Regardless of the size of your agency, you’ll want to seriously consider the benefits of future-proofing your operation by choosing an ERP solution that supports tiered services.

5. Security

Alongside the increased dependency on cloud-based connected ERP solutions, the need for intelligent and reliable security has grown exponentially. Importantly, the shift toward cloud-based ERP solutions has occurred alongside a sharp increase in security threats across the board, creating a potentially alarming demand for security as an integral component of an effective ERP solution. Cyber attacks, in general, cause immense irreparable damage. Estimates have put the total global cost of cybercrime at roughly $6 trillion by the end of 20217. A trend that will be increasingly important for agencies is the prevention of such cyber attacks, especially where an ERP system is involved.

6. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI has been a driving force of the rapid transformation of technologies across industries, and the ERP landscape is not exempt from these changes. Broadly speaking, AI is a field of computer science that is concerned with the modeling of human cognitive processes for use in any and all computational applications. The implications for ERP systems are innumerable, in that virtually every ERP component can utilize AI for performance enhancements and improvements in integration and productivity.

Take, for instance, the use of AI for improving customer relationship management. According to a noteworthy CIO article, “An AI-enabled ERP solution for customer service integrates the customer interaction with the work order management process. The AI solution understands and learns from historical inspection reports and work orders.” The article explains further, “Depending on the nature of the customer inquiry, it gives a proposed answer to the service agent. The AI solution assists with the planning and scheduling of the work by finding the earliest possible date to dispatch a service technician,” which is possible because the AI agent knows the required skill set and availability of the required parts.

7. Mobile device support

For those of us who have used smartphones on a daily basis now for years, it may be somewhat difficult to comprehend why mobile support is considered a new trend for ERP solutions. Why is it that seemingly every other form of computing and communications tech has received a mobile treatment, while ERP mobile support has been scarce to nonexistent? To understand this, one must keep in mind that Enterprise Resource Planning software is, first and foremost, enterprise software. This means that some of the trends found in modern consumer products are applied to a different timeline in the enterprise world. Fortunately, the time for ERP to support mobile devices like smartphones and tablets has now finally arrived.

8. Internet of Things (IoT)

Not unlike artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things has had profound implications for almost every sector of an industry. IoT refers to the proliferation of devices, products, and objects that are connected to the internet. What this means for ERP systems is that your entire infrastructure—including hardware, physical systems, and even employees—can be monitored and tracked. The data produced through this process can then be integrated into the functionality of the ERP system. Want to track how often a workspace is used in your ad agency to help determine future infrastructure plans? A room equipped with sensors and biometric tracking can provide real-time analytics to help with critical resource allocation decisions. Such a scenario represents only the beginning of possibilities that will arise with IoT.

9. Startups

Many of the recent and forthcoming innovations on the ERP landscape’s horizon, as noted above, can be attributed to the dynamism introduced by the increased presence of startups. The push toward cloud-based solutions, for instance, has come to a large extent from smaller ERP startups whose cloud-based features have, in turn, influenced larger vendors to follow suit. This is an example of the phenomenon that occurs when a smaller company is able to use their flexibility to their advantage by fulfilling a unique position in the marketplace.

“The bigger vendors are increasingly trying to be everything to everyone, which creates opportunities for startups to fill unmet needs in specific industries or functions,” Panorama Consulting founder Eric Kimberling has explained. “In other words, they are often able to use their focus to position themselves compared to the larger players uniquely.”[8] Such a situation is doubtless a boon to marketing and ad agencies, who continue to benefit from the kinds of rapid innovation we see regularly from startup disruptors.

10. Empowered users

Enhanced ERP features related to cloud-based services, SaaS systems, data integration, tiered services, security, AI, mobile devices, and IoT all mean that ERP users are more empowered than ever to make smart choices in selecting an ERP solution. With the introduction of new startups to an ERP landscape formerly dominated purely by large-scale vendors, the result is a more rapid turnover of new features and competitive functionality.

An equally valuable shift is the decrease in cost for ERP customers. As Amit Patel, managing director in the enterprise solutions business at Huron, has explained, “ERP vendors are being very aggressive in protecting their core offering and, as a result, pricing models are being updated to ensure they remain competitive9. This means that customers now get not only the best features but also receive comprehensive ERP features at highly competitive prices.

For more information on BORN Group’s service offerings across ERP, please visit here.


[1] http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/Manufacturing-resource-planning-MRP-II

[2] https://www.forbes.com/forbes/welcome/?toURL=https://www.forbes.com/sites/onmarketing/2014/08/27/how-a-creative-cfo-will-save-advertising/&refURL=&referrer=#2607740412ea

[3] http://searcherp.techtarget.com/feature/The-top-seven-ERP-trends-for-2017-and-beyond

[4] https://www.pcmag.com/article/351807/5-enterprise-resource-planning-erp-trends-to-know-in-2017

[5] http://searcherp.techtarget.com/feature/The-top-seven-ERP-trends-for-2017-and-beyond

[6] http://blogs.ramco.com/10-emerging-trends-erp

[7] https://www.csoonline.com/article/3110467/security/cybercrime-damages-expected-to-cost-the-world-6-trillion-by-2021.html

[8] http://www.enterpriseappstoday.com/erp/7-cloud-erp-startups-to-watch.html

[9] http://searcherp.techtarget.com/feature/The-top-seven-ERP-trends-for-2017-and-beyond

Personalization: The Key to Creating an Exceptional Customer Experience

Personalization: The Key to Creating an Exceptional
Customer Experience

Personalization has come a long way from only addressing the customer by name in a direct marketing email that arrives in your inbox – of all the digital strategies being talked about in the race to better customer experience, and thereby setting your brand apart from the competitors, personalization has now grown to be the most paramount.

It has been shown time and again that personalization drives engagement and builds relationships with the customer, making it one of the most important tools in a marketer’s toolbox. A whopping 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognize them by name, remember their preferences, and provide them with relevant offers and recommendations1. A customer that is seen and heard and feels special is one that will return.

As opposed to the customization of products or services to suit a particular individual, personalization is the tailoring of an experience based on the customer’s previous buying behavior and preferences. The holy grail is to offer the customer an intelligent and contextual, and therefore superior customer experience, which in effect creates more value for the business.

In the past, marketing communications was mostly one-way. The new approach using data to ground insights begins a conversation with the customer.

The underpinning of personalization is data. Most of this data already exists within an organization in the form of the technology that enables every sale – sales and support information can be folded into customer data platforms (CDPs) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, unstructured data in the form of positive or negative feedback, reviews and social commentary consolidated into reputation management systems – all that data just needs to be harnessed, analyzed and put to work not just as the end of the shopping funnel but throughout the customer journey.

Here are a few paths to personalization of the customer experience:

  • Personalized home page, navigation, and copy: New visitors need to be targeted with tailored messages, pages, and navigation compared to returning visitors or regular customers because they aren’t very familiar with the brand or the website. Personalized pop-ups and greetings are one way to do this. Encouraging social sign-ins are another. By understanding target customers’ pain points, interests, and problems, you can also target relevant copy for different segments, thereby increasing conversion. Knowing device types also means mobile users can be offered a different experience compared to those using a tablet or laptop.
  • Location targeting/geofencing: Visitors from different countries are segmented and these segments to allow for personalized pages and experiences. A US apparel brand could have different sizes, not to mention currencies, compared to the UK site. Geolocation targeting also enables daily or seasonal weather-related personalization. One new development is geofencing which puts a ‘virtual fence’ around a physical location. Geofencing triggers a command to the mobile phone when an individual enters or leaves a geofence. Whole Foods launched geofences around their competitors’ locations. When a customer using the Whole Foods app came into or left the geofence, they would receive ads with store-specific offers2. The campaign is said to have had a post-click conversion rate which is more than 3x the industry average. 
  • Predictive personalization: Amazon, followed by Youtube and Netflix, made the ‘Recommended for you’ feature famous. These days, many brands suggest options while the customer is buying or even at checkout to upsell their products and increase average order value. Uniqlo measures neurotransmitters in their UMood kiosks to gauge customers’ reactions as they are shown different clothing items in kiosks. The AI algorithm then uses that data to recommend products3.
  • Retargeting: Google Ads offers brands the ability to remarket their product to visitors who visit their website in other locations. Since they have already shown interest in the brand, retargeting offers another avenue to complete the sale. Conversely, personalization also means that the transition from clicking from an ad to get to your website is seamless and the text matches to suit.
  • Category specific offers: Just as with initial contact, segmentation offers a chance to target specific offers to specific customers. One effective example is how Sephora used to announce all their products to all their customers, but now they send only relevant information with their behavioral-based email program4.
  • Gamification: Using gamification in your brand marketing strategy helps brands know their customers better through features such as quizzes or creating user profiles and avatars. Awarding points is another method can keep consumers loyal. Makeups and skincare brands such Sephora’s skincare quiz or Roadrunner Sports’ “Which Nike shoe fits your personality” are great examples of gamifying your commerce experience to drive return traffic5.
  • Video tutorials and inspiration: Offering how-to videos and tutorials post-sale turns customers into repeat customers. Technology has made it easy to offer personalization even in video and editing techniques mean that text in a video can be customized for easy consumption. Inspiration areas are used by many brands’ websites to guide customers through their product line.
  • Lead generators: Displaying offers free trials or discounts tactically are a useful feature to generate customer leads and keep them on your page. An exit discount pop-up box is one way to do this.
  • Omnichannel delivery: Features such as ‘Continue watching’ and ‘Watch from the beginning’ made popular by Netflix are also being used by retail brands that have a presence on different channels. Headless CMSes can enable shoppers to switch between devices for a seamless experience while also remembering their preferences. Neiman Marcus, for example, remembers your size when you return6.
  • Chat and customer support: AI and machine learning is being used especially with chatbots which can gather data and segment customers, especially if you don’t have the resources to offer round-the-clock support. Information and predictive analysis can be pulled up for customer-facing employees for an enhanced customer service experience. 

More brands are offering hyper-personalized experiences at every customer touchpoint. With enough data, customers can be shoehorned into each segment of one. However, personalization can make the marketing mix more complex and such complexity is both time and resource intensive. Therefore, A/B testing is a key factor to check efficacy before embarking on individual personalization strategies.  

Furthermore, using customer data for the purposes of curation and interaction is treading a fine line – brands would reap the benefits if they were to make their processes transparent, respect data privacy, and safeguard customers’ data while doing so. In the end, personalization is as much about customer behavior and their needs as it is about their data.

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Footnotes

1. Accenture 2018 Personalization Pulse Check. https://www.accenture.com/_acnmedia/PDF-83/Accenture-Pulse-Check-Infographic.pdf 

2. Thinknear Location Score Index, Q4 2017. http://info.thinknear.com/rs/835-JWB-681/images/Thinknear_Location_Score_Index_Q4_2017.pdf?utm_source=&utm_medium=&utm_campaign=&utm_term=&utm_content=

3. AI In Retail: How Tech Is Changing The Customer Experience, Forbes.com, March 26, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2019/03/26/ai-in-retail-how-tech-is-changing-the-customer-experience/?sh=47f31dc1958a

4. Accelerating Agility: eCommerce Marketing Lessons from Sephora, Bluecore.com, https://www.bluecore.com/blog/accelerating-agility-ecommerce-marketing-sephora/

5. Roadrunnersports.com, https://www.roadrunnersports.com/blog/quiz-which-nike-shoe-best-fits-your-personality-free-rn-or-free-rn-flyknit/

6.  5 Outstanding Omnichannel Retail Examples In Fashion, Intelistyle.com, https://www.intelistyle.com/omnichannel-retail-best-examples-fashion/

A Bank in your (Digital) Wallet

A Bank in your (Digital) Wallet

If there is a recent fintech innovation that can be compared to sliced bread, it has to be digital wallets. In less than the time that it took for people to start banking online, secure, fast and convenient digital wallets have taken over how people store and use money. 

Our physical wallets consist of a mix of cards that confirm our identity, cards issued by financial institutions allowing debit or credit as well as cards that collect loyalty points. A digital wallet seeks to combine all of the above, and then some.

A digital wallet, or an e-wallet as it sometimes called, is a software-based financial account that securely stores users’ payment information and passwords. With this technology, users can quickly complete transactions and pay for them. Digital wallets can be cloud-based or use near-field communications (NFC) technology. When used on mobile phones, they enable smartphone payments. A digital wallet can also be used to store tickets, loyalty cards, and coupon information.

It appears that while digital wallets were already becoming popular, in 2020 their growth – like with that of eCommerce – got another push. Market research firm Apptopia says that mobile app sessions on the leading money remittance apps – such as PayPal, Remitly and Xoom – surged 10.7% in the first two and half months of the year alone.

Digital cash for digital wallets

Before digital wallets, there were contactless stored value cards using RFID and NFC technologies such as the FeliCa cards in Japan, developed by a subsidiary of NTT DoCoMo and Sony. The technology is used by millions of commuters around Asia on rail networks and was used as the basis for NTT DoCoMo’s Osaifu-Keitai, Japan’s de facto mobile payment system.

The idea of digital cash – and the term eCash – however, was floated in a paper in 1983 by researcher David Chaum. Chaum tried to commercialize his concept – named eCash – in a startup that anonymized and encrypted transactions using public key digital signatures. eCash was the basis of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. However, it took until 1989 and the launch of PayPal for the idea of digital wallets to become widespread. Available for both Android and iOS users, PayPal’s relative ease of use has made it the widest used digital wallet globally. Customers have the option of paying with the app, which uses the same process as tap-to-pay options like Apple Pay, or swiping a PayPal Mastercard to make purchases in-store. PayPal also owns Venmo, the popular peer-to-peer payment app.

Technology companies were early into the payments game too. In Asia, communication apps WeChat, LINE, KakaoTalk, and Naver, all have embedded digital wallets. WhatsApp’s version is undergoing trials in India and Brazil first. Samsung Pay can not only be used with NFC but even with traditional magnetic stripe technology. Tech behemoths Google and Apple were later to the game but Google Pay – a combination of Google Wallet and Android Pay – and Apple Pay, supported on iPhones, iPads, Apple Watch, and Macs, are lumbering up to take on the competition. Apple Pay’s two-factor authentication including fingerprint (Touch ID) and Face ID means amounts that can be authorized are higher.

In the US, Walmart Pay uses QR codes – also used by Alipay in China – as opposed to tap-to-pay that relies on NFC technology. This wallet can also be used to organize Walmart gift cards, create shopping lists, store receipts, refill your prescriptions, and even find an item’s location inside your preferred store. 

Other players in the market include Cash App (released in 2014 by Square, and can only be accessed with your fingerprint for extra security), and also stores boarding passes, concert and movie tickets, loyalty cards and coupons. The app Due provides invoicing and time tracking but also offers a digital wallet and along with payment processing and banking capacities. They also happen to own the trademark on the word ‘eCash’ first promoted by Chaum.

Effects of and on eCommerce

With a boom in eCommerce this year, retailers need to keep up with their customers’ preferences for digital wallets and include all these options in their checkout. Here are some of the ways that digital wallets will impact the customer journey and the retailers’ balance sheets;

  • Customer behavior The companies offering these digital wallets – like the banks before them – have knowledge of their buying behavior in a granular sense.
  • Convenience: Not just for the customers who don’t have to open actual wallets, fill out forms or login online, retailers can also conveniently send and receive payments.
  • Reduces expenses Transfer fees and charges are much lower than on traditional banks. Some apps even allow retailers to eschew pricey POS systems.
  • Improved cash flow Credit card or check clearances can take a lot of time. Mobile eCash payments can speed up the process. Most transfers are completed within 72 hours with some even happening instantly. 
  • Conversion rates The convenience and speed while using digital wallets is one strategy that can help increase conversion rates and reduce abandoned shopping carts. Coupons, discounts, promotions can be beamed to customers in-store and loyalty points awarded.
  • More sales opportunities Since wallets are contained on phones, and most people carry their phones everywhere, location isn’t really a problem anymore. This increases sales opportunities making sales truly omnichannel.
  • Security With extra levels of authentication, a digital wallet is much more secure than a credit card. 

Digital wallets around the world

In Asia and Africa, where cash was formerly king, vast swathes of the population have sidestepped credit and debit cards to go straight to mobile payments. Alipay, offered by eCommerce giant Alibaba, and started out as an escrow service between eCommerce buyers and sellers is China’s leading third-party payment solution and digital wallet. In 2016, Alipay expanded to Europe to offer Chinese tourists traveling there a way to make in-store payments and receive offers and now has over a billion users worldwide. In India, its equivalent is PayTM. In Africa, and in particular Kenya, Vodafone M-Pesa allows users to deposit, withdraw and transfer funds, pay bills, and purchase mobile operator services. 

As eCommerce becomes more commonplace, digital wallets are starting to gain favor with customers and in turn, gain ground from banks. Square, for example, has received conditional approval to open a bank. Recognizing this propensity to transact online and on the phone, banks around the world are working on central bank digital currencies (CBDC) capabilities. 

Noting the banking-like features that digital wallets offer, Hong Kong and Singapore regulate digital wallets as stored value facilities. A new bill was tabled earlier this year in the US called the ‘Banking For All Act’ that mandates that all banks that are members of the Federal Reserve open and maintain ‘digital dollar wallets’ for all persons. The unbanked and the underbanked around the globe might fuel the next wave of digital wallets and we will be more digital money to fuel our digital lives.

BORN Group’s Year in Review

BORN Group’s Year in Review

On our one year anniversary of being acquired by Tech Mahindra, BORN Group reports a transformative year looking back at our expansion of services and accolades as an agency. In face of the pandemic, BORN has kept buoyant, thrived, and secured landmark wins and awards to continue its status as the most decorated agency of its class.

BORN commanded over thirty-seven award wins throughout 2020. Client work with brands like Starbucks, Cadbury, Digi, Frette, Cartier, Tata Cliq, Tata Cliq Luxury, Tata Tetley, Love Bonito, Changi Airport Group, and Sour Patch Kids enjoyed high honors across the globe, receiving distinctions from the Communicator Awards, the Lovies, the FoxGlove Awards, Campaign India Digital Crest, the dotComm Awards, the Mob-Ex Awards, and the Digies. These wins centered around delivering excellent UI/UX, cultivating best practices, and ensuring best consumer engagement for these marquee brands.

As an agency, BORN Group received various commendations, winning Gold for Best Digital Consulting Agency of the Global Brand Magazine Awards, Company of the Year in Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations by the International Business Awards, an Agency of the Year Finalist by the Drum Awards, and named advertising + Marketing Research Agency and Brand and Design Agency of the Year. BORN Group’s CEO, Dilip Keshu, was also distinguished as an Entrepreneur of the Year by the International Business Awards, otherwise known as the Stevies, while the agency also enjoyed numerous accolades via partner awards, namely in receiving the SAP APJ Excellence Award 2020 for SAP Customer Experience, Most Innovative Partner of the Year Award by the 2020 Bloomreach Awards, and Best User Experience and Design by the BigCommerce 2020 Partner Awards.

As part of its acquisition by Tech Mahindra, BORN Group undertook a complete digital overhaul to capture their full suite of offerings, verticals, and 80+ comprehensive case studies. The new site was recently awarded multiple CSS Design Awards for Best UX Design, Best UI Design, and Best Innovation, along with an honorable mention from the awwwards. 

Behind all these accolades were our fearless BORNies. With over eighty new hires this year, including key hires in management positions with the additions of, Minna Rhee, Managing Director, North America, Reji James, Head of Managed Services, North America and Dustin Holmstrom, Head of Digital Architecture, we’re proud to note our team grew despite the many challenges of 2020. Finally, BORN came together to build and deploy state of the art strategic frameworks in Stella and SMOC, and pledged support toward change through contributions to the BORN Equality Fund.

With 2021 on the horizon, we look to move towards a post-pandemic world more resilient and able than ever.

As we say here at BORN, onwards and upwards!

Insights, Trends, and Predictions for 2021

Insights, Trends, and Predictions for 2021

The next few months should see us at the cusp of a post-pandemic economy – with multiple vaccines looming over the horizon, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for another tumultuous year globally – a new US President and people adjusting to a post pandemic world. There’s a few trends born out of the disruptions over the year to note when considering the state of eCommerce moving into 2021, and I’ve decided to highlight what we believe are the five most important trends. Of course, I hasten to add, every single one of my predictions could be wrong. I have learned at a very young age that I have no orbuculum at my disposal and my scrying is a game of dice!  

Each trend connects with a greater cluster of users, from the consumer all the way to the integrity of the digital economy, so understanding each pillar of these predictions can go a long way in preparing for future disruptions and innovations ahead.

Hyper-personalizations: Considering the Consumer Alone

As buyer profiles grow more and more distinct with the aggregation of big data and the development of machine learning, hyper-personalization is a vital component of building modern customer experience. The world will move from broad segmentation to one to one marketing as the technology to further target content to the individual advances. We’ve begun to see this already to great effect in social media eCommerce as platforms like TikTok and Instagram have mastered the endless scroll via tailoring content specific to the individual, and now we see clear opportunities for early adopters in both B2B and B2C spaces to capture significant growth. Marketing to broad segments like Millennials or Baby Boomers won’t do. Everyone in these segments is unique so think about how you deliver 1:1 personalization. 

The Elastic Enterprise: Reevaluating Business Models

With demand and supply becoming global, business models will change. We will see more Direct to Consumer (DTC) and composite hybrids – B2B, B2C and B2B2C power the digital economy. Both DTC and B2B2C are now proven business models that have challenged conventional wisdoms in eCommerce and thrived in the wake of their disruption. Throughout the pandemic, DTC models have transformed household essentials into subscription based services that are tailored to one’s needs and personalized to their wants. B2B2C models on the other hand have allowed businesses to specialize in providing services to other smaller businesses who you may engage – like an air conditioning supplier (B) who works with the small business contractor (b) you (c) trust. 

The Longitudinal Book of Record: Understanding Connected Data Science

So I know your name and email. Over time I get to know your preferences.I keep building the small stub of information I have on you- like building a longitudinal book of record. Omnichannel has long been an established pillar of the digital economy, but going into the next decade, connected channels and the data science behind them will only skyrocket in significance. Companies will rely on building an infinitely extendable longitudinal book of record by collecting and compiling data from various channels – connected channels will be the next big thing. Efficient and effective CRMs, OMS’, and ERP solutions will help ensure that a business has that central node by which all customer interactions can connect towards. Building that book of record is the key piece in accumulating and executing the data to accomplish the sort of CX transformations like hyper-personalization that distinguish one commerce practice from another.

The Speed of the Human Mind: Powering Mass Consumption Instantly via 5G

Infrastructure across nations, cities, homes and businesses will upgrade to 5G to cater to mass consumption of information, instantly, everywhere, and as a result, the consequences to the digital economy will be staggering. Already we’ve seen brick and mortar rapidly erode from its conventional use-case as the nexus of shopping into a portal of customer experiences and tailored moments to match robust eCommerce solutions. 5G and the ensuing wave of digital infrastructure will only accelerate those trends further as it becomes even easier to search, engage, and purchase via any electronic device. Furthermore, that digital infrastructure can capture new consumer markets globally, putting more emphasis on useful technologies that can ensure fulfillment and tax liability across the world. So are you ready to deliver rich media. Chips, computers, phones, infra and 5G are ready to deliver it. 

Resilience: Safeguarding Your Business and the Digital Economy

All it took is one pandemic to change the nature of business irrevocably. Companies will seek to protect themselves from such events – a mindset to be battle ready in all circumstances has emerged. Both digital security protocols and multiple routes of fulfillment will be top of mind for businesses as the world moves closer to a pandemic vaccine. Tools to ensure credit monitoring and ID theft protection will find more and more value as we tilt even further into a digital first economy.

All in all, these insights reveal a commanding trend towards leveraging new technologies to heighten CX in the space. Between personalization, distribution, speed, and safety, disruption comes in many waves that each elevate a business towards the most efficient and effective commerce experience. We’re excited to implement these insights and heighten the brands we work with over the next years, and capture our onwards and upwards sentiment with the changing digital economy. In short: is your business capable of change. Rapidly. 

Best Practices: CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote)

Best Practices:
CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote)

Use CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) Wisely!

In recent years, businesses have adopted to CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) systems to provide configurable products as a personalization option for their customers. CPQ systems provide the flexibility for a customer to mix and match options available for a product they are interested in while simultaneously delivering a personalized end-to-end buying experience. Its also important to be mindful of launching the right strategy for CPQ functionality for your end customer, with a well thought out roadmap based on an array of factors including, customer behavior, business needs, and market trends. 

With that said, the adoption of CPQ isn’t necessarily for everyone, but it’s critical to start by answering the broad question, ‘Will this offering really accommodate and help the customer to make their buying decision?’ As we keep the customer at the center of everything we do, it’s critical to make the path to purchase completely seamless while simultaneously empowering the user. 

In most cases, the adoption of a CPQ strategy will have a direct impact on conversion rates and revenue. If the right CPQ strategy is not rolled out for the market segment that you are targeting it could spell disaster on conversion rates. Also, the longer it takes for the customer to complete the buying journey could directly impact the revenue. 

The broader considerations can be split further into more granular aspects as listed:

Customer Behavior

  • Age of the customers interacting actively with the brand.
  • The cultural background of the end customers.
  • Existing brand engagement metrics.
  • Market sentiments towards the brand.

Business Needs

  • Challenges in maintaining Product data.
  • Challenges in materials procurement.
  • Challenges in stock allocation.
  • Challenges in production for pre-configured items with demand.
  • Challenges in the maintenance of pricing for pre-configured products.

Upcoming Market-Trends

  • Trends are driven by social media and networking.
  • Innovation or market disruptions related to the product lines.
  • Transparency on pricing options.

It has become essential for businesses to strike a balance on having the right mix of options, messaging, and possibly gamification of the customer buying journey for a configurable product and also make it responsive enough to be delivered to any digital touchpoint where the customer interacts with the brand. Also, in addition to rolling out a product personalization feature to the customer, it is also important to monitor the interactions of the end customer with the CPQ feature. This provides valuable insights to allow you to improve upon your offering to ultimately enhance customer experience and conversion rates.

Apart from the major business considerations, it is equally important to choose the right CPQ product and eCommerce stack that can work well with your backend systems (ERP, CRM, etc.).  

All the above-mentioned considerations, analysis and decision making can seem intimidating. Here at BORN Group we specialize in CPQ and can help you to navigate a rollout strategy along with ongoing maintenance. Please feel free to reach out to Mackenzie Johnson, [email protected] for more information on our service offerings.