Jeff Bezos- One reason why Flipkart, Snapdeal will never be Amazon of India

Amazon is the fastest company to reach $100 Bn in Annual Sales and is cruising along to gain leadership position in the Indian Ecommerce Space. Meanwhile AWS reached $10Bn in annual sales, even faster. There primary reason why Amazon will be the Amazon of India is Jeff Bezos clarity of thought and leadership- Very well articulated in the letter to shareholders-

1. “Customer Obsession”
Both were planted as tiny seeds and both have grown organically without significant acquisitions into meaningful and large businesses, quickly. Superficially, the two could hardly be more different. One serves consumers and the other serves enterprises. One is famous for brown boxes and the other for APIs. Is it only a coincidence that two such dissimilar offerings grew so quickly under one roof? Luck plays an outsized role in every endeavor, and I can assure you we’ve had a bountiful supply. But beyond that, there is a connection between these two businesses. Under the surface, the two are not so different after all. They share a distinctive organizational culture that cares deeply about and acts with conviction on a small number of principles. I’m talking about customer obsession rather than competitor obsession, eagerness to invent and pioneer, willingness to fail, the patience to think long-term, and the taking of professional pride in operational excellence. Through that lens, AWS and Amazon retail are very similar indeed.

2. The culture of Failing Fast.
One area where I think we are especially distinctive is failure. I believe we are the best place in the world to fail (we have plenty of practice!), and failure and invention are inseparable twins. To invent you have to experiment, and if you know in advance that it’s going to work, it’s not an experiment. Most large organizations embrace the idea of invention, but are not willing to suffer the string of failed experiments necessary to get there. Outsized returns often come from betting against conventional wisdom, and conventional wisdom is usually right. Given a ten percent chance of a 100 times payoff, you should take that bet every time. But you’re still going to be wrong nine times out of ten. We all know that if you swing for the fences, you’re going to strike out a lot, but you’re also going to hit some home runs. The difference between baseball and business, however, is that baseball has a truncated outcome distribution. When you swing, no matter how well you connect with the ball, the most runs you can get is four. In business, every once in a while, when you step up to the plate, you can score 1,000 runs. This long-tailed distribution of returns is why it’s important to be bold. Big winners pay for so many experiments.

3. Amazon is in India to win.
India is another example of how we globalize an offering like Marketplace through customer obsession and a passion for invention. Last year we ran a program called Amazon Chai Cart where we deployed three-wheeled mobile carts to navigate in a city’s business districts, serve tea, water and lemon juice to small business owners and teach them about selling online. In a period of four months, the team traveled 15,280 km across 31 cities, served 37,200 cups of tea and engaged with over 10,000 sellers. Through this program and other conversations with sellers, we found out there was a lot of interest in selling online, but that sellers struggled with the belief that the process was time-consuming, tedious and complex. So, we invented Amazon Tatkal, which enables small businesses to get online in less than 60 minutes. Amazon Tatkal is a specially designed studio-on-wheels offering a suite of launch services including registration, imaging and cataloguing services, as well as basic seller training mechanisms. Since its launch on February 17th, we have reached sellers in 25 cities.

4. Amazon is it’s own competition
Just over 10 years ago, AWS started in the U.S. with its first major service, a simple storage service. Today, AWS offers more than 70 services for compute, storage, databases, analytics, mobile, Internet of Things, and enterprise applications. We also offer 33 Availability Zones across 12 geographic regions worldwide, with another five regions and 11 Availability Zones in Canada, China, India, the U.S., and the U.K. to be available in the coming year. AWS started with developers and startups, and now is used by more than a million customers from organizations of every size across nearly every industry – companies like Pinterest, Airbnb, GE, Enel, Capital One, Intuit, Johnson & Johnson, Philips, Hess, Adobe, McDonald’s, and Time Inc.

AWS is bigger than Amazon.com was at 10 years old, growing at a faster rate, and – most noteworthy in my view – the pace of innovation continues to accelerate – we announced 722 significant new features and services in 2015, a 40% increase over 2014.

Many characterized AWS as a bold – and unusual – bet when we started. “What does this have to do with selling books?

10 Commandments to decide your Mobile App is ready for Growth.

 

-Bhaskar Thakur

To sum it up here are 10 Commandments to decide your Mobile App is ready for Growth.

You have identified the Core Product Value (CPV)- The dominant benefit the customer expects from the app.

You have the Minimum Viable Product (MVP)- Smallest feature set that delivers core value.

You have Product/ Market Fit (PMF)- Product satisfies Market’s needs.

You have defined your Growth Goal e.g. 5 Million Installs and 50{b533f414762ff80097ee09d177cb5141b2a13e37c77cdd72580da9125ed6123c} actives in next 12 months.

You have Attribution Tracking (ability to ascribe installs to source/ campaign) setup and tested.

You have Google Analytics configured and tested- Features for apps like Speed, Tag Manager, A/B tests.

You have tested and identified channels for app installs- start with a few channels.

You have initial idea of Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV)- Net value of entire future relationship with a customer.

Your app’s  K factor is >0. If every Visitor that converts to member/ customer gets 1 or more person.= Product is Viral!

You have funds for the growth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Commandments for Push Notification

To summarize,

Report from Kahuna suggest 60{b533f414762ff80097ee09d177cb5141b2a13e37c77cdd72580da9125ed6123c} users opt out of Push Notifications, and the opt out rate varies across industries. Here are 10 Commandments to reduce Push Notification opt-outs.

  1. You shall remember Push Notifications is not SMS or Email or Tweet.

  2. You acknowledge Notifications and NO-Application is one tap away.

  3. You shall Personalize Notifications.

  4. You shall write Compelling Copy.

  5. On Sabbath Day phones are silent, motivation gotta be bigger.

  6. Image is worth a thousand words; You shall include Images and Audio.

  7. Every dog has his day- every app their Hour.

  8. Android’s Food is iPhone’s Poison.

  9. In data we trust. Test, Measure, Tweak.. Repeat

  10. If it’s done it’s no fun, try some new.

5 Elements of an Effective Pricing Page

Landing page and Pricing page are perhaps the two most important pages of a website and these two pages also have maximum dropouts. The opportunity cost of dropout from the Pricing page is higher as these are users that have shown interest in your product, spent time traversing your website and have ALMOST paid you.

What make some Pricing Pages more effective than others?  What leads to better conversion? Is it slick design or simplicity? I have been working with ecommerce sites for close to a decade and half and here are the top 5 Pricing Page elements, in my experience, that have maximum impact on conversion.

 1.    Simplicity of information organization:

Your users have navigated through the information on your website and are about to pay, do not over-complicate things. Make the page easy on the eye, so one does not have to read the content. Make the Call to Action prominent and at multiple places on the page.

Skype’s Pricing Page is easy on the eye and one does not have to ‘read’ information.

Skype Pricing Page

2.    Make Plan Comparison easy:

You can make comparison easy by using visual clues to highlight the plan features. Highlight One Plan- Not the cheapest or the highest. Highlight the Most Popular or the Profit Maximizing Plan.

Yesware has made plan comparison really simple. You know what you are getting for 5, 20 and 50 a month.

 Yesware Plan

3.    Help users choose the plan:

You can help your users choose the plan that’s best for them by

  • Using simple plan names.
  • Highlighting the Target segment for each plan.
  • Having limited options- 3-4 plans at maximum.
  • Add Currency Options: People are generally more comfortable paying in their currency. Give currency options, if possible.

Yesware’s  Plans are brain-dead simple- Plus, Team, Enterprise, Do we say more?

Yesware- Simple Plan Names

4. Build Credibility by answering the questions users may have:

  •  Is my Credit Card safe? – Add Security Seal and statements like ” Pay securely without compromising your privacy

2010 holidays shopping- Global Warming & Online Retail

US consumer’s spent 12{b533f414762ff80097ee09d177cb5141b2a13e37c77cdd72580da9125ed6123c} more than last year online; an aggregate of $32.6 billion over the holidays, reported comScore on Wednesday as it released the final numbers for this 2010 Holiday season.
It seems Global Warming is good for retailers as comScore credited blizzard for the boost in sales. Other contributors to the growth included earlier than usual promotions and aggressive free shipping offers, which were used in more than 50{b533f414762ff80097ee09d177cb5141b2a13e37c77cdd72580da9125ed6123c} transactions.

2010- Holiday Shopping- 12{b533f414762ff80097ee09d177cb5141b2a13e37c77cdd72580da9125ed6123c} over 2009
2010- Holiday Shopping- 12{b533f414762ff80097ee09d177cb5141b2a13e37c77cdd72580da9125ed6123c} over 2009

Cyber Monday, the monday after Thanksgiving (and the so-called start of the online shopping season) recorded the heaviest spending of the 2010 season and crossed the $1 billion threshold at $1.028 billion. Free Shipping Day (December 17, 2010) recorded the maximum jump (61{b533f414762ff80097ee09d177cb5141b2a13e37c77cdd72580da9125ed6123c}) in sales over 2009

Cyber Monday and Free Shipping Day- Recorded Maximum Sales
Cyber Monday and Free Shipping Day- Recorded Maximum Sales

What’s the mantra for 2011?

1. Start the advertisements around your promotion early.

2. Get aggressive with shipping

3. Go Social, go Viral

4. Pray for bad weather? 🙂

Crowd Source or Crowd Critique – The GAP story

Last  week GAP unveiled its new logo (created by NY agency Laird & Partners) to it’s online community and the overwhelming response was negative. The online community jeered the new Logo and within no time websites were set up to ridicule the new GAP logo.

GAP heeded to the response and was quick to flip back to the 40 year old logo.

Ok. We’ve heard loud and clear that you don’t like the new logo. We’ve learned a lot from the feedback. We only want what’s best for the brand and our customers. So instead of crowd sourcing, we’re bringing back the Blue Box tonight??? was the update on GAP’s Facebook page.

Read the full press release here.

Is this a failure of Brand Management or success of Social Media?

Let’s look at the brighter side of the story:

  1. GAP saved Millions of Dollars it would have otherwise spent in Re-branding Deployment
  2. GAP could truly democratize change   and that will help re-enforce relationship with the patrons and community.
  3. Created the Buzz before the holiday season and I’m sure they will soon come out with a campaign/ promotion to leverage the incident.

However, there are few questions for Social Media Strategists and GAP think tank:

  1. Should GAP have considered crowd sourcing logo design rather than crowd sourcing criticism?
  2. What is the right time to involve customers in the decision making process?
  3. Are the public social communities the best platforms to discuss critical ideas and innovation? Should ideas be initially discussed within closed customer groups/ closed communities?
  4. Will this fiasco impact GAP’s branding?

Online Retail- The 2010 Paradigm

So who spends maximum online? Men, Women, Teens?

Where should the big brands and online retailers put their advertising $ in 2010 ? Search, Portals, Social Media?

Online shopping experience is changing in more ways than one. It is no secret that peer review and recommendation is the single biggest influence in the purchase decision. “I want that red stilettos that Jane has??? syndrome..

A recent study by comScore reveals a direct correlation between Online spend and time spent on Social Web. Visitors to Social Media websites ( read: Facebook and Twitter) spend more money online than other Internet users. Average

Per the comScore study, In the US in Q1 2010, visitors that spent the most time on Facebook also spent the most dollars on online shopping. The top 20% Visitors to Facebook (by time spent) spent average of $67 online.

Facebook Time Spent and Online Shopping
Facebook Time Spent and Online Shopping

Facebook Non Visitors spent $ 27 online shopping; much less than the average $50.

On Twitter users spend more than average Internet user, and more than most Facebook Visitors

Twitter Time Spent and Online Spend
Twitter Time Spent and Online Spend

The key takeaway from this study is that Twitter and Facebook are no longer teenage hangouts. Older audience (heavy spenders with higher disposable incomes) are propelling these platforms.
Online Retailers and Brands  better hone your 2010 plans to  include Facebook and  Twitter.

Improve Conversions with SEO and Social Media Cocktail

The Clients and Brands I work with usually have a fixed annual budget for Internet Marketing and a mandate to achieve incremental positive ROI.

Internet Marketing ROI is a function of Traffic, Leads, Sales and Brand Buzz. For sometime ( in 2008-2009) I tried cross-selling and up-selling SEO and Social Media Marketing (SMM) to my clients for additional fee; however, more often than not, it did not work. Business owners and Marketing Managers had one simple answer “ here’s the budget, use it the way you want, get me 50%??? over last years.

It did not take me long to figure out the trick was in blending the SEO and Social Media Marketing to get the maximum Bang for Buck. Here’s the 5 step SEO and Social Media Strategy that I have seen delivering maximum value to my client’s outbound and inbound Internet Marketing Programs.

 

#1. Website Usability Analysis

Is your website a space occupier on your business card? A digital brochure? Or is it a Brand Ambassador and a Sales Force?

Successful online campaigns start with websites designed for the target audience with visitor touch points and action callouts. Analyze the server logs to identify visitor click patterns and make changes to the website architecture to engage your visitors. Critical parameters to analyze includes Entry Page, Exit Page, Click Stream, Page Drop Rate, Referring websites and Keywords.

– It is advisable to add short contact forms on all pages and link to contact form in the site-wide footer.

– Test the forms regularly to ensure it works fine.

#2. Optimize your website, put together a Link and Outreach Program

Identify the key phrases that are most relevant for your business and have sufficient search volume . If you are a local business include geo targeted key phrases in  your key phrase bucket. You may want to optimize for Brands and models, if you are a retailer.
Include Key phrases in the website’s content, page titles, metatags, and other elements.

Develop  a Link strategy that’s clean and viral. Add Link baits and give other websites a reason to link to you. Avoid direct link solicitation.

#3. Social 101: Thought Leadership Blogs

Thought leadership blogs and absolute must if you want to create a buzz and grow your Brand. Create Blogs in your key product domains or service areas. Motivate the experts in your company to blog in their areas of expertise. Setup an editorial team and protocols. The digital assets you create on your blog will go a long way in establishing your leadership in the industry which will encourage repeat visits and new business. Target to establish your blog as one of the top go to destinations for information on your industry.  Here are some ideas on Blog posts:
o Industry news and trend analysis

o Opinions, critique and whitepapers

o How-to guides

o Interviews, Profiles and Reports.

#4. Social- Deep Dive

 

Leverage the reach of social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to connect with your customers and Industry. Build consistent brand personality across social platforms. Use consistent branding, communication guidelines and visual layout across the social websites.

Encourage your employees and customers to join your social network. Incentivize feedback. Participate in discussions, conduct polls.

#5. Observe, Measure and Tweak

 

Setting up the website and outreach program is just the beginning. Success comes for observing the trend, measuring the impact and tweaking the program.

Set up monitoring and tracking for top key phrases you are targeting. The would include:

  1. Brands
  2. Competition
  3. Key Personnel
  4. Negative buzz like “ Brand + Sucks???

Establish response mechanism and protocol for positive and negative buzz on the Internet.

Evaluate and Key Phrases and Social Platform’s performance. Unique Visits, Referring website, Click Path and Conversion Rate are few important parameters to evaluate platforms on. Tweak you strategy/ tactic based on intelligence from analytics.

‘Re’- Maximizing Life Time Value of Website Visitor

For most online retail models ‘Re-’ is the key to profitability: Re-Visits, Re-Orders and minimal Rejections and Returns. If your customers consume the product you sell daily or regularly ,‘Re-’ is the key.

Food, Pharmaceuticals, Nutraceuticals, Subscriptions are some businesses that depend on Revisits and Reorders for profitability. More often than not the Cost to Acquire a new customer is more than the profit from first sale/ subscription in such businesses.

In this post I have discussed strategies to Maximize the Life Time Value of a customer. The strategy would work across industries however, would need customization and tuning.

Plan and Budget the campaign:

It all starts with the Plan and Budget. If you are targeting repeat orders from your customers plan a year round campaign and not a one time offer. For example, if you are selling Health Supplements you have to acquire new customers and get repeat orders from the existing everyday; unlike Television Retailers who run promotions and clearances around the shopping and the holiday seasons.

Welcome New Visitors and Reward  Returning Visitors:

This a critical and tricky element of the campaign and has long term impact. Typically, marketers want to ‘deep discount’ first orders to ‘kill competition’ and hope to make profits on repeat orders. However, this strategy may irritate you existing customers brand loyalists. Design a promotion plan that entices new visitors and makes your existing customers feel special.

Having separate landing page for new and returning visitors works. You may also want separate toll free numbers. If you are running a PPC campaign  you should run separate campaigns for new visitors and existing customers. Add negative keywords to segregate visitors.

On the website it helps to have separate entry and exit points designed for New visitors and existing customers. Clever navigation and content architecture helps achieve the objective.

Benchmark the Cost of Acquiring New Customers:

The key to success is acquiring new customers at cost that justifies the revenue  you expect from the customer. If your cost to acquire a new customer is high you will get revenue but profit will elude your business. If you target conservative cost of acquisition you will be profitable per sale but would find difficult to scale up. Here are the factors that helps decide the benchmark Cost of Customer Acquisition:

  1. Purchase/ Manufacturing cost of the product.
  2. Gross Profit on Sale.
  3. Average and Median orders ( no. of times/ year).
  4. Average and Median order value.
  5. Demand Elasticity
  6. Competitor’s Pricing Strategy

Design Promotions to Acquire New Customers:

The promotion strategy you use to acquire new customer is critical to retaining loyalty and building brand. The expectations of the customer that responds to “Free First Month Trial

10 Commandments for Success at Outsourcing

Across the world organizations have taken to outsourcing for competitive advantage. Are there still organizations out there that question outsourcing? Here’ why you should consider outsourcing:

My main focus is on my game- Tiger Woods

One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.- Tony Robbins

I have spent more than 12 years managing the complexities of outsourcing. I have seen successes and failures. Here are my 10 Commandments for Success at Outsourcing for the business leaders exploring the strategic relationships.

Commandment 1: Get you Reasons Right

One needs to be slow to form convictions, but once formed they must be defended against the heaviest odds.- Mahatma Gandhi

Answer to the question “why outsource???? is the first and the most critical element of the game. Do not outsource because everyone does. Outsource for your reasons; cost control, quality control, risk mitigation, geographic expansion, Human resources etc. Take your time to figure out the reasons.

Commandment 2: Plan the Route, Be Detailed

Failing to plan is planning to fail. – Alan Lakein

Plan the route, set the milestones and define the responsibilities. It is important to set the goals and expectations before you start to minimize surprises.

Commandment 3: Lead the change

Leadership involves finding a parade and getting in front of it.- John Naisbitt

Outsourcing is too important to implement Bottom Up in and organization. Outsourcing is a strategic move and is successful only when the Leader is convinced and committed to the cause.

Commandment 4: Build your Team, Get Process Champions

I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people. – Mahatma Gandhi

A leader is as effective as his trusted lieutenants.  Identify and nurture process champions in your organization and encourage them to spread the knowledge and build grow and motivate their teams.

Commandment 5: It’s all about people

You don’t lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership. – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Outsourcing will impact the lives of your employees and they will certainly be apprehensive about Job Loss. Address your people concerns. Involve your people in the process.

Commandment 6: Date, Court, get Married

Don’t marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual you think you can’t live without. – James C. Dobson

Outsourcing relationships are like marriages built on trust, compatibility empathy and flexibility. Spend time analyzing your partner organization’s culture, their vision and plan. Ask the right questions to find your match. Remember that the cheapest is not necessarily the best.

Commandment 7: Practice what you Preach

I try to keep in touch with the details… I also look at the product daily. That doesn’t mean you interfere, but it’s important occasionally to show the ability to be involved. It shows you understand what’s happening. – Rupert Murdoch

Your outsourcing plan will be put to test only when implemented. Lead the implementation process; get involved in the details initially. Empower the process champions with tools to take the vision forward.

Commandment 8: Process, Process, Process

We do not learn; and what we call learning is only a process of recollection. – Plato

Document your successes and failures. This documentation will be the reference points for the future. Organizations can benefit the economies of scale and outsourcing only by setting up the process and following in every time.

Commandment 9: Measure and Analyze

Round Numbers are always false. – Samuel Johnson

Measure the impact at every milestone, compare with organizational and industry benchmarks. Analyze the performance and tweak the process as needed. At times there may be no prior references, the Vision and strength of leadership is tested in such situations.

Commandment 10: Be prudent- Get the prenup in order.

Divorce is probably of nearly the same date as marriage. I believe, however, that marriage is some weeks the more ancient. – Voltaire

Relationships do go wrong. Give the Outsourcing relationship a chance however; you should have a Tactical Plan B ready if things do not produce desired results initially. On the strategy front, be wise to safe guard your interest and include an opt-out and other safeguard clauses in the contract. Change outsourcing partner, in case of cultural differences and insurmountable integration challenges.