Monday, 10 November 2014

Clever online business models you can adopt; more examples, some analysis

One thing Facebook did when they insisted users used real names is they ‘invented’ internet trust. Here, a company uses ‘trust’ in their business model....

Oodle runs a Facebook's official marketplace.  When buyers and sellers post items, their Facebook identities are attached.  This gives users more confidence in the transactions.

This one makes use of the networking effect, saving marketing costs...

TravelPony relies on users sharing hotel deals.  Users access the site via their Facebook login for hotel deals.  The prices are competitive thanks to users’ willingness to share a post on their Facebook or Twitter.  Once they’ve booked the hotel, they share the deal via the same social media ie indirect marketing.  Although not compulsory, it works probably because of the community spirit and it’s an honourable thing to do since it was through the community that they got better prices.  So, whilst competitors spend on marketing they rely on word of mouth via social media.  Saving on their marketing budget should, in turn, allow them to pass on savings in their hotel rates, thus hopefully helping to generate even more social sharing.

A way to monetise 'likes' and also turning it to a business model...

Wanelo, a social shopping site uses the concept of ‘likes’ so a friend’s choice becomes a powerful buying instinct.  Users upload images of products they want.  Members can follow other users or brands and cultivate their favourite items by ‘saving’ a picture, like pining on Pinterest.  Each image has a ‘buy’ button that leads to a page on say Zara where items can be purchased.  Wanelo receives a portion of the sale.  Many retailers are interested to install Wanelo buttons on their product pages because this is a demand platform.  “The combination of collecting and shopping has young women flocking to the site.”  The mall is personalised.  It’s like a personalised mall for the products a person like.

The above examples show eCommerce 2.0, using social and other internet mechanisms to sell.  During, with a few exceptions, most eCommerce sites were simply online facsimile of traditional stores.

Once a messaging service is just that, now....

Kakao is a South Korean messaging app. Its biggest revenue comes from its gaming platform where it uses its access to users’ list of phone contacts to pit friends against one another.  It makes money from sales of virtual goods. Another is a service called ’plus friends’ which allows users to become virtual friends with media outlets, celebrities and retail brands such as McDonald.  Through Plus Friends, participating brands send a set of monthly messages, coupons and real-time information to their followers, for a fee.  The third revenue generator is users buying cartoon images to send to their friends or to pay for real-world gifts.

Asian business mind, witness also Tencent and Alibaba besides Kakao, tends towards quicker monetisation and that means adding new ways to generate revenue and at the off.

Finally Bitcoin you have heard of but it is Block Chain, its core mechanism that’s going to disrupt the financial industry.  It can reduce the cost of transactions, speed it up and reduce fraud.

These examples show that the new economy works a bit differently from the old.  From the use of open source and peer-to-peer (showing how far p2p has come since Napster) to tapping the crowd for insights, as business models.  The latter, what I call outside-in (traditionally firms trust only internal resources), is a creative way to improve creativity and innovation not only by tapping the crowd deliberately but allowing consumers to design products themselves.  It inputs fresh ideas, extra skills and to ascertain trends closer to the market. In real-time!  Indirectly, outside-in is used for marketing and sales or to make it easier to close a sale.  They bring to light new and better ways to carry out consumer surveys and at minimal cost to boot. 

Operationally, by shrewdly using the crowd, they reduce costs; by improving inventory, cutting out traders in the traditional supply chain and tapping manpower they may not have to pay for.  Further, marketing costs is defrayed by having the consumers do part of it. Word-of-mouth too has been taken to a different plane in the internet era.  These same consumers are also coerced to bring more certainty to product development and as one example showed, even before they are made.  Notice that many actions are indirectly compelled whence once management exert direct control over all.

The internet economy seems to be moving the indirect model centre stage and an inward organisational culture outwards.  This new culture combined with clever ways to reduce prices allows them to disrupt the old.

More examples here.

Send an email to me, and I'll reply with further examples. Or if you know of other interesting methods, let me know.  I'll compile and make another post. I also welcome your thoughts, interpretations or disagreements.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Clever online business models you can adopt

We know of Amazon, Alibaba and Uber but here a few less well-known instances of interesting business models and methods used in the digital economy.  Some are downright disrespectful of traditional business models, disrupting them.

A sample

The new middleman, using the internet to arrange for a consumer to buy as direct as possible from makers, reducing layers of traders...

Deal Décor’s model is to sell furniture directly to customers through the website with a twist.  With the great recession, the Chinese furniture factories had excess capacity. They were eager for business but they were concerned about getting paid. Deal Décor would pay them as the products were shipped rather than a month later. Then unlike traditional furniture retailers, they sell furniture before they are in production. It times the deals for when a factory was producing similar items for other clients and could easily add Deal Décor’s order. Further they order the exact quantity it had sold unlike a store and had the items shipped straight from the factory to customers.  No inventory, no dealers, no need for logistics, less wait time.

Couch trend tracking...

Crane and Canopy releases new duvet covers and sheet sets every other week and designs textiles based on current trends on Pinterest and elsewhere, instead of planning collections seasons ahead of time like most brands.

Clever way to track things that interest the public with immediacy.... is a social bookmarking service where users tag and store web links. The database “represents crystallised attention - what people are looking at and what they’re trying to remember”. “Visit at any point of the day and you get a snapshot of what web surfers find interesting at that moment.”

A way to track retail trends and unlike surveys, this is exact… gets users to broadcast purchases via a "bought" button that advertises their shopping habits to friends.  Fab built its user base in part by offering US$5 a month to those who agree to share their Fab purchases and favourites on Facebook.

Useable by restaurant chains using social to fill seats?

GrubTonight help people connect to others (especially new friends) to set up groups for dinners.  The app links smartphone users for dinners, fun evenings and friendship.  It’s social.  Users can browse group dinners through the app, which works with restaurants to fill open seats.

Tapping into precisely what the customer wants instead of best guess...

John Fluevog, a designer of high-end shoes created open source footwear by allowing customers to submit designs. They get to put their names on the shoes.  The best ones get put into production, essentially co-designing shoes with customers. Through this, John Fluevog gets new ideas, knows what customer wants, get free designers with some sales to boot.

Flipping a long used business model and creating more certainty...

Hyperink’s demand-first philosophy flips the way books are selected on its head. Instead of starting with the writer, which is often the case with traditional publishers, they look at Google search trends, what people are talking about on social platforms, and what areas are selling well on Kindle. Once they analyze the data to identify areas where people want books, they then look for a writer for that particular area.

Mines crowd behaviour to produce more relevant material...

Jetpac (sold to Google) creates insightful travel guides by analysing pictures from social networks such as Instagram. It mines publicly shared pictures for visual clues to insights such as ‘bars where women go, the best views; and then present users with city guides suggesting spots that might be of interest.

Traditionally, editors know best, now it’s the crowd.  Since customers cannot be wrong (except for Steve Jobs!), Hyperlink and Jetpac would appear to tap a good business model.  They minimise assumptions.

More examples here, plus a bit of analysis.

Send an email to me, and I'll reply with further examples. Or if you know of other interesting methods, let me know.  I'll compile and make another post. I also welcome your thoughts, interpretations or disagreements.