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[SUCCESS STORY] ZUNY: WEB PLATEFORM OF THE 100% DIGITAL BRAND BY VOO

VOO equipped its 100% digital brand, Zuny, with a sap commerce cloud web platform.

Telecoms provider VOO launched Zuny in October 2020 Zuny, a brand which was especially created with Belgium’s younger generation in mind.

When it came to developing the web platform and Progressive Web App (PWA) for its exclusively online services, it chose SQLI.

VOO chose SQLI for its expertise in designing and implementing e-Commerce and SAP solutions, including SAP’s Telco accelerator designed for the telecoms business model.

Download the Zuny success story

Insurance: a move to the new direct-to-consumer (D2C) model in Asia

Although insurance purchasing practices vary significantly between countries in Asia, they are all shifting to online sales. New 100%-digital businesses such as ZhongAn have won major market share from traditional insurers, which are becoming increasingly dependent on online distribution platforms. This is why Asian insurers are focusing their strategy on the direct-to-consumer (D2C) model. Its advantages: being able to offer customers a personalised digital service by collecting as much data as possible directly, and without having to pay commission.  

100%-digital businesses that set the tone 

Zhong An, the first 100%-digital Chinese insurer 

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Screenshot of the ZhongAn interface with insurance categories, profile and access to recommendations.

ZhongAn, initially the result of a collaboration between Alibaba, Tencent and the insurer Pen An, got into the insurance market in 2013 selling micro-insurance policies on third-party partner platforms (e-Commerce, transport, etc.). With 330 partners, ZhongAn is now implementing a diversification strategy to avoid being overly dependent on them. Since 2015, ZhongAn has reduced the number of intermediary sales in favour of D2C sales. To do so, the digital insurer is banking on technology and customer experience. It uses artificial intelligence to automate 70% of its online customer service and in 2018 launched its ZhongAn ANswer chatbot, which enables it to recommend insurance with 94% accuracy.  

Customer service integrates technology at different levels: online sales uses targeted marketing, AI fights against fraud, policies are managed using Blockchain, and sign-up and refunds rely on visual recognitionAs a consequence of this excellent customer experience, young customers (56% aged under 35 years old in 2018 according to ZhongAn), who want to sign up for their first insurance policy with ZhongAnchoose to remain loyal and directly sign up for new contracts every year.  

 

Acko General Insurance, the firm shaking up motor vehicle insurance in India 

In India, Acko General Insurance saw exceptional growth as it digitally marketed motor vehicle insurance products. After its launch in 2016, the start-up actually provided coverage for 20 million customer the same year(1) 

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Application interface – Source Acko General Insurance 

Its 100%-digital strategy enables it to reduce its acquisition and sale costs, making it more competitive than traditional insurance firmsWith more than 50% direct sales, it is capable of collecting data (type of car, region, history) to improve its customer service and provide custom pricing(2)

Insurers’ dependency on third-party platforms 

A certain number of platforms and new intermediaries have emerged over the last decade, on which insurers have become increasingly dependent. These include online comparison platforms and platforms integrated into super apps or social networks. For example, 66.2% of non-motor vehicle insurance in China was marketed on third-party platforms in 2019(3).   

This is why the Chinese tech giant Tencent launched the WeSure platform in 2017, giving customers the chance to purchase insurance products and receive refunds directly via QQ social apps and Tencent’s super app, WeChatWeSure focuses on UX and partners with firms like Taikang for their insurance expertise. The platform now has 20 partner insurers and 55 million customers, and has already insured 25 million users(4).

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WeSure is accessible via the QQ and WeChat applications. Source: adn-co 

 

WeSure collects customer behavioural data, which enables it to make recommendations to its partners on the design of new insurance solutions. New services have been designed, such as for example the WeFit service, which encourages users to adopt a healthier lifestyle through sports competitions with friends or family. The more active the user is, the more reductions they get on their insurance, medical check-ups, gym membership, and even sports equipment purchases.  

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PolicyPal application interface – Source: ladyboss.asia/ 

 

Another example of a platform that has successfully set up shop in Asia is PolicyPal. This Singaporean firm positions itself as an “insurance guide” enabling users to better manage their insurance policies by scanning their paper documents, centralising them, and analysing their data using visual recognition (identification of zones not covered to advise on purchasing additional insurance). 

 

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PayTm super app services – Source PayTm.com 

 

In India, PayTm is an example of a fast–growing super app. It is 42%-owned by… Alibaba. Originally designed as a payment wallet, the application has already proved a phenomenal success after India adopted its demonetisation policy (in November 2016, the government suddenly announced the withdrawal of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes from circulation to curb corruption5). The measure gave a real boost to PayTm: its user numbers doubled the following year.  

PayTM developed numerous additional services such as bill payment, and purchasing of bus passes, cinema tickets, and insurance. Following the award of its intermediary license in March 20206the start-up is set to market products from 20 Asian insurers (life, health, motor) on its platform. 

 

Traditional firms take the direct-to-consumer route 

Chinese insurance firms have a head-start in the field of direct sales. In 2019, 45.8% of motor vehicle insurance policies in China were marketed directly on the firms’ respective applications. 22.5% of sales were then made on the WeChat accounts of these same firms. 

Today, all Chinese insurers have their own online distribution service. One of the pioneers is Ping An. All services, from sign-up to refund requests, can now be provided online: users enter their information, receive a quote, pay their fees, receive their policy by e-mail, then a certificate in under 2 days. They can then submit quick compensation claims on the application and receive their benefits within 3 days. 

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Screenshot of the Ping An app’s home page, after sign-up. 

  

In addition to the chatbot answering questions, PingAn uses AI to assess benefit claims. Its strategy is to set up an all-in-one motor vehicle insurance service. The application can be used to find a parking space, request breakdown assistance, sign up for or renew an insurance policy, assess the damage caused in case of an accident, or contact customer service.  

 

 

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Screenshot of The CareVoice, the e-insurance Saas – Source: The CareVoice.com

 

Another element of this ecosystem is the start-up The CareVoiceIt proposes an SaaS B2B platform, launched in 2019, to help traditional firms offer direct, online services. The CareVoice already collaborates with 15 insurance firms including Ping An, ZhongAn, P&C Insurance, and AXA. The aim is to bring insurers as close as possible to their customers via a digitalised and ultra-customised medical service (consultation, health monitoring, making appointments) and a digitalised insurance service (claims, virtual assistant, possibility of discovering and purchasing new insurance policies according to user needs).   

Asia is once again a pioneer in digital transformation. Over the last few years, Asian insurers have seen the arrival on the market of new firms and intermediaries, which have forced them to accelerate their transformation and digitalise their services. Direct sales (D2C) enable them to set lower, personalised prices, and require them to constantly innovate to improve online customer experience. Customers then have access to faster, more transparent and effective purchase and refund services, as well as advisory services available at any time online via chatbots and robo-advisors.  

 

Digital workplace: does anybody seriously believe they can do without change management?

The transition to a digital workplace is now unavoidable! By unifying the tools we use every day, it offers benefits that no longer need any introduction: more efficient individual and team working, smoother communication and an enhanced employee experience, which are also key drivers for remote working. While you have certainly considered the required technologies, what about change management?  

 

Change management: crucial for the adoption of your digital workplace  

The promises of the digital workplace have convinced your organisation that it is time to make the leap, or improve what you already have. Never forget the major role played by the human factor in the success of your project! 

A digital workplace can be a major departure from your existing processes and corporate culture. Beyond unifying a set of tools, it involves the introduction of a system that will change the habits and working methods of all departments and employees. Like an organ transplant, there will be a high risk of change being rejected if it is perceived as a threat. So, to get change underway, it needs to be explained and understood.  

Digital workplace 1

A change management policy is therefore essential. It will be determined by your vision of what your new digital workplace will look like and how it will operate. In other words, you must give it direction and governance. For example, you may want to put the focus on strengthening collaboration or boosting innovation. Remember that, in order to guarantee a significant business impact, your digital workplace must be aligned with your strategy and direction.  

 

Bring the right people on board to make change happen 

Once your direction and governance have been defined, it is time to look at the agents of change involved in the introduction or development of a digital workplace. Bear in mind that a lack of internal engagement is one of the main causes of failure. This is why the earlier you bring your employees on board, the easier it will be to manage change. 

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According to the size of your company, an ambassador or ambassador community must be defined. Who are they? Supportive key employees who will be continuously informed and trained, in order to make them stakeholders in the design of the system, which they will know like the back of their hands. They will be able to help bring the rest of your employees on board. 

Executive and line managers also have an important role to play in managing change. Without clear instructions from management, new ideas run the risk of being rapidly ignored. For example, by adopting the change themselves, they will demonstrate their adherence to the digital workplace concept, thereby giving it a significant boost. Managers are also best placed to oversee new practices. The idea is not to make the process of bringing people on board top-down, but to get support from management to complete the mission.  

 

Provide training to concretize change management 

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It is now time to teach employees how to lastingly and effectively use the tools in your digital workplace. Developing skills will greatly influence your change management policy. This is where the ambassadors come in: once they have fully understood the use and value of these tools, they will be able to promote them to a wider audience. It is also possible to provide short, time-efficient training sessions for this group of ambassadors, in order to strengthen their skills.  

Another advantage of providing training for ambassadors, rather than for a wider audience, or even all employees, is the time and money saved. In order to support this approach, it is advisable to provide extra training materials via a range of digital tools for those who require additional help. In addition to technical skills, it is a good idea to include the communication skills needed to promote change in the training. Elsewhere, this part of the training can cover management of the change in culture and thinking, as the level of digital maturity will vary among employees. 

 

Various formats are available to conduct this change, such as the production of guidelines using UX Writing, or remote sessions led by coaches. All depends on your organisational environment and DNA. There is, however, one rule that applies to all: avoid the “Big Bang” approach, i.e. using a single launch. It is better to proceed in stages, with small steps, in order to regularly introduce new things. This will help employees involved in designing and promoting your digital workplace keep up with the pace. 

As with any transformation, the introduction or development of a digital workplace is an approach that must be personalised. The uses, cultural changes and aims are specific to your organisation. Establish your change management policy now to make sure your project isn’t a flop! 

Download our Digital Workplace White paper

[White paper] Digital Workplace: Connect, collaborate and grow sustainably

Business success today relies on connectivity, collaboration and the capacity to make decisions in real time. This means that organisations that wish to remain competitive need to transform the way in which they work, in order to allow people
to be productive from anywhere at any time.

The key to success lies in the effective implementation of a digital workplace strategy, capable of driving operational
efficiency and social connections.

This white paper provides insights into the digital workplace and looks at:

  • The definition of a digital workplace
  • Key players in the digital workplace space
  • The benefits of a digital workplace
  • Best practices when implementing a digital workplace
  • A digital workplace case study

 

Download our Digital Workplace White paper

5G: the tree hiding the wood?

In order for 5G to be compatible with environmental challenges, we need to start moving towards digital restraint now. If we give it this objective before it is deployed, another kind of 5G is possible. 

It will be happening after all… After being delayed due to the Covid-19 crisis, bidding for 5G will begin in France in September. This technology will open up a new world of possibilities, thanks to unprecedented reduction in latency and a huge increase in bandwidth.  

With emerging concerns about the environmental effects of 5G, raised in particular by mayors recently elected in France, a public discussion about the issue is necessary and healthy. However, we must avoid making it a two-sided discussion, divided into those for and against it. It should rather enable civil society to express the kind of 5G it wishes to see, as the transition to 5G comes with awareness of the digital industry’s growing impact on the environment.   

 

Aiming for digital restraint  

The increasing number of relay antennas and the planned obsolescence of terminals brought about by 5G are causing opponents to ring the alarm bell. However, the strongest argument involves data usage: because it offers improved connectivity, 5G will increase our data consumption. This consumption increase may well have the largest impact on the environment. The equipment manufacturer Ericsson estimates that the average 5G network user will consume 200 GB of data per month in 2025, which is far greater than the 6.7 GB currently consumed by 4G users in France 

The discussion that has begun should not lead us to simply reject 5G out of hand, but rather to question our relationship with digital and find ways to optimise data consumption, in order to collectively achieve digital restraint. This is particularly true given that the ARCEP (France’s telecommunications regulator) has already observed an increase in the amount of data used by French citizens year on year.   

The idea of restraint, defined as ‘moderate behaviour’ or ‘self control’, is not well understood when it comes to digital technology. To draw a parallel with cars, motorways and powerful engines make it possible to drive at 125 mph, but this does not mean that it is a good idea to do so. In the same way that vehicle speed has been regulated for reasons of road safety, with the advent of 5G, legislators should think about regulating excessive data use for environmental reasons.  

Unfortunately, it is this issue of data use that is the furthest down the road and the main source of concerns. It is these new uses, though, that should be driving forward the solutions to help us bring our digital consumption back into balance. Faced with the climate emergency, it is absolutely necessary to maintain controlled energy use as a target for the deployment of 5G.  

 

Catalysing innovation to create the conditions for resilient use 

This target needs to be defined now. The slow schedule for deployment of 5G means stakeholders will have time to come up with innovations that support this societal project. Sébastien Soriano, President of the ARCEP is fully aligned with this view and explains that we “absolutely have the time to create the conditions needed for green 5G, green networks and green digital.”  

It is up to us – citizens, associations and companies – to express our expectations, as well as to put forward proposals and innovate to create resilient use of 5G. This objective should be shared by all and companies in particular. They have a singular responsibility in this discussion, as they will be the main users of this technology. They should move towards controlled energy use and integrate environmental considerations in each project: in return, this deep-seated transformation will enhance their ability to innovate.  

5G promises systemic transformation and it is exactly for this reason that it has the potential to meet environmental expectations. The transition to 5G is an invitation for us to think about the environmental effects of digital, but it should also encourage us to imagine what the digital of tomorrow could do for the environment. How about the environmental costs of remote working and the increasing number of videoconferences, for example? Our data consumption has significantly increased in this area, but it has been compensated for many times over by the reduction in travel. 

In the field of digital, voices are speaking out to promote eco-design and what is known as ‘green IT’. From the outset, IT systems need to be designed to be sustainable and less data hungry. Taking this idea further, we could also imagine “unplugging” energy-hungry systems (such as a data centre with low energy efficiency or a poorly optimised computer language), in order to replace them with more environmentally friendly systems. This reasoning is leading French policymakers to think about ending 2G and 3G.  

5G should not be deployed to the detriment of environmental protection, which is an absolute priority today. However, it is not incompatible with this requirement and can even be a source of solutions. The crucial thing will be to integrate environmental considerations as soon as it is deployed and to innovate in order to come up with virtuous uses.  

 

By Paul Camicas, E-Commerce Practice Manager at SQLI and Stephen Demange, UX & E-Commerce Consultancy Director at SQLI  

The rise of the second-hand market in China boosts the circular economy

The second-hand trend is spreading around the world and gaining ground in China, particularly with the weakening of its economy due to the Covid-19 crisis. We look at Xianyu, a Chinese app that provides a second-hand product purchasing platform for the 75.5 million users of Taobao, Alibaba’s e-commerce website.

Since 2019, the second-hand market, which forms the basis of the circular economy, has grown rapidly in China. Whether it is clothing, cars or books, it has become as simple to sell as it is to throw away. According to Bloomberg, the second-hand market achieved a value of 100 billion dollars in 2018, a figure which is set to grow in 2020. According to a survey by Mintel, more than half of urban Chinese buy second-hand goods for environmental reasons.

Tech giants Alibaba and Tencent have taken the lead in this market by developing exchange platforms that enable buyers and sellers to carry out fast, secure and rated transactions. The secret of the success of the circular economy in China is the scoring system introduced by Alibaba, which evaluates citizens over time. It should be noted that with the current epidemic, this scoring system, known as Zhima Credit or Sesame Credit, has been reviewed and relaxed.

 

Xianyu – Alibaba’s second-hand goods exchange platform

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Linking individuals for second-hand sales:

Building on its expertise in online sales and social media, Alibaba has managed to transform Chinese preconceptions about buying second-hand and provide a solution for people on a tight budget. Xianyu, the platform developed by the tech giant within the framework Flutter, makes it possible to sell and/or buy articles that were previously acquired on Taobao, Alibaba’s e-commerce platform.

Goods such as clothes, designer bags, refrigerators, smartphones and cars are sold in this way. According to the product category, the seller must enter information about the state of the item (time used, origin, brand, etc.) and receives an estimation of the sale price.

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Screenshot of the homepage and the screen for the telephone category – Source: The Pixellary

Recycling and transformation of unsold items

In addition to the buying and selling of second-hand goods, the application provides other functions for recycling. In a few clicks, clothes to be recycled can be retrieved from a private individual, who receives payment in exchange, in order to be resold to partner companies. These partners sell some of the items collected and recycle the rest (about half) to produce industrial or agricultural materials (such as fabrics for greenhouse temperature control and noise-dampening).

Since the platform was launched, 8500 tons of clothing, or around 24 million items, have been recycled.

 

Xianyu’s popularity is due to its Super App status

Ease of use

Its status as a “Super App”, due to the fact that it combines various recycling functions in a single app, has boosted the platform’s use and popularity. 64% of its 75.5 million users per month only use this platform.

By contrast, in the United States, for example, in order to buy second-hand goods, users have to use several different interfaces or websites, creating an account, entering payment data and so on, each time.

Another advantage is that Xianyu is integrated in Alibaba’s Super App, which is in turn integrated in the Alipay payment system, providing ease of use that makes it significantly more accessible for individuals of all ages. The main users remain millennials, however, with 60% of users born after 1990.

Social and fun side  

The Xianyu app is also connected to the gamification functions of Ant Forest, an Alibaba mini-app that enables users to win “green points” to grow virtual trees, which will then be planted in the real world, in China’s arid regions. In 2019, 230,000 trees were planted due to actions carried out on Xianyu.

Social mini-communities have also been created on Xianyu, based on hobbies, with communities for fishing, photography and sport, for example. People belonging to a community can exchange information and advice, and products sold are more easily categorised. There is even a community to buy the products of bloggers and celebrities, or to follow and seek inspiration from their clothing styles.

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Image 1: Promotion of goods that belonged to the basketball player Kobe Bryant

 

 

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Image 2: Communities available in the local area  
Source: The Pixellary

Trust-based transactions guaranteed by the Zhima scoring system

Payment secured by Alipay

Annual sales on Xianyu achieved a value of 14.4 billion dollars in 2019, and are set to grow in 2020. Transactions on Xianyu are carried out through the Alipay online payment service, as are all of the Alibaba group’s applications.

Users have a virtual wallet, which is credited or debited when the second-hand good purchase is made. However, given that transactions can involve significant sums (for cars and household appliances, for example), it is possible for the seller to receive a deposit to ensure and secure the transaction before the good is delivered.

The amount of the pre-payments and payment deadlines are defined according to the parties’ reliability, which is evaluated by the Zhima Credit scoring system.

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Users can access their score on Alipay – Source: CIW

Credit scoring system

In order to ensure smooth transactions and honest information about products sold, Xianyu is linked to the Alibaba credit scoring system.

Zhima Credit, also known as Sesame credit, uses an algorithm that evaluates each individual’s level of trust according to their transactions on Alipay, their borrowing habits, bill payment times, late returns of goods rented, etc.

Users are given a score ranging from 350 to 950 points. The higher their score, the more individuals will be considered trustworthy and receive benefits, while a lower score means they have to provide additional information or pay a deposit. For example, if they have a score of above 690, sellers can receive an initial payment for their sale via Alipay of up to $298, before the articles are even collected. In order to carry out transactions on Xianyu, the minimum score necessary is 600.

Relaxed rules due to the coronavirus epidemic

The scoring system is used for other Alibaba applications and covers a multitude of activities in the daily lives of Chinese citizens. Due to health conditions related to the coronavirus, some citizens confined to their homes were unable to return goods rented from various companies. Such actions, which would normally have a negative impact on the score, were not taken into account by the system, which is giving users a “grace period” due to their inability to return goods. However, Sesame Credit does record late returns and asks its users to resume their good habits once the crisis is over.

Conclusion 

The platform Xianyu has enabled the emergence of a circular economy in China, based on a scoring system that establishes trust and reliability. Other second-hand goods sales platforms are also available: Zhuan Zhuan has 2 million users per month, and Guazi achieved 50,000 second-hand car sales in 2018.

However, despite all these figures, the Chinese second-hand market still has a long way to go, and remains far behind western markets, where second-hand car sales represent 10% of GDP, compared with 0.6% in China in 2017 (National Bureau of Statistics of China). Significant growth is therefore expected in the coming years.

Beyond acceptance of the concept, there is also growing awareness among Chinese consumers of sustainable development, which is encouraging them to adopt a different attitude to their purchases and consider buying second-hand and recycling. A comprehensive platform, such as Xianyu, which makes buying second-hand goods as fast and easy as buying new products, is helping drive the circular economy.

By using technology to combine the second-hand market with fun games and a social aspect, China’s tech giants are promoting citizens’ awareness of sustainable development and supporting environmental directives introduced.

Food safety: Chinese supermarkets bet on Blockchain

In China, a number of counterfeit food and false certification scandals have hit consumer confidence in the products they buy from their supermarkets hard. As Chinese consumers slowly but surely opt for organic and healthier food, finding a solution to guarantee greater food safety has become a major issue for manufacturers and distributors.

This is the backdrop against which Alibaba began looking into Blockchain. The group started integrating this solution back in 2016 to track the origin of food, via its Hema supermarkets and its Yiguo fresh produce e-commerce platform.

Food traceability made possible by Blockchain

40% of businesses in the global agri-food industry think the traditional certification approach is insufficient, and 39% know that their products can be easily counterfeited (PwC, 2018). So Blockchain has real potential to guarantee consumers reliable and unalterable traceability, and solve the health and safety issues businesses in this field are facing.

Blockchain 1

Source: Alizila.com

In 2016, Alibaba launched the first Hema connected supermarket: one of its main innovations is the way customers can scan the product’s QR code using the store’s mobile app either when they shop in-store, or when their online purchases are delivered. This gives them access to the following information:

  • The location of the product and its temperature during the entire delivery process
  • The producer’s name 
  • Photos of the government permits and stamps certifying the distributors
  • Food certificates and standards
  • Pesticides and chemicals used on crops

The system currently provides tracking of a range of products including meat, seafood, rice, tofu, soy, fruits and vegetables, poultry, eggs, dairy produce, cooking oils, and food supplements. Each product has a unique code, meaning that the information provided is specific to the product itself, rather than the batch it belonged to. The system brings together farmers, small- and large-scale manufacturers, delivery firms, distributors, certifying bodies and consumers on a single platform, making it as transparent as possible. The open-access public platform means information on transfers of goods between supply chain partners can be integrated in real time clearly and honestly.

In addition to making the product traceable every step of the way up and down the supply chain, Blockchain’s implementation also makes returns easier to manage. It allows the identification and localisation of products that need to be replaced. This process is usually expensive and complicated, causing significant physical and economic losses. The system is possible because a growing number of brands have adopted Blockchain technology and are implementing the traceability process.

Agri-food businesses adopt Blockchain technology

To make Blockchain really effective and trustworthy, the more businesses become involved, the more precise the traceability will be. This has resulted in the creation of alliances and consortiums in China, set up by the main distributors, delivery firms, technology firms and supermarkets that have adopted Blockchain internationally. 

For example, the Food Trust Framework (Alibaba) is a consortium whose members want to track food produced in China and guarantee international imports from Australia and New Zealand. Since 2018, members have included:

  • Tmall international, supported by the Alibaba e-commerce platform that set up the initiative  
  • Fonterra, a New-Zealand dairy cooperative featuring 10,000 farmers
  • New Zealand Post
  • Blackmores, an Australian food supplement specialist
  • Australia Post

At the final stage of the supply chain, and in contact with consumers, are the Alibaba supermarkets, which adopt the technology via their channels: 

  • Yiguo: the Chinese online food distribution site has 5 million customers and more than 1,000 businesses that can now track the origin of their products purchased online  
  • Hema (Freshippo): the brand’s mobile app allows its consumers to access information before they buy in store

The Blockchain Food Safety Alliance launched in 2018, also in China, has four founder members 

  • Walmart: the American distributor has 500 stores in China and in 2019 announced its intention to open further outlets to double this number 
  • JD.com: Alibaba’s main rival e-commerce platform, which is more specialised in electronic products
  • Tsinghua National University: the Beijing university research centre, which possesses blockchain and Chinese food ecosystem management expertise
  • IBM: the software firm behind the development of the Blockchain IBM Food Trust platform

More than an alliance, the IBM Food Trust, which is based on use of the IBM blockchain, has been adopted worldwide by distributors and brands including Carrefour, Kroger, Dole, Tyson Foods, Nestlé and Unilever that contribute to the constant growth of the number of products added to the system.

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Source: IBM

Restoring consumer confidence by addressing their concerns

Food fraud is a global challenge. According to research by Michigan State University, counterfeit food is worth $40 billion every year, making the implementation of these traceability systems an important weapon in this fight. As mentioned earlier, immutable traceability means fake ingredients can be detected, which increases confidence in international trade of food products and local production. This makes it possible to solve cases of food contamination, as the product can be identified quickly on the blockchain and immediately withdrawn from sale.

Finally, by using the technology to restore consumer confidence in the information and labels found on packaging, distributors can guarantee they are supplying authentic products, increase their sales, and gain a new competitive advantage. This is the start of a new, fairer, transparent mode of distribution, focused on consumer preferences.

The Chinese traceability system has seen its adopter numbers rise since its launch in 2018. Distributors and international brands have joined the platform to work together to create and consolidate a global traceability network, discourage fraud, and promote food safety in local and international trade.

Blockchain is also used on supply chains by manufacturers and distributors. This is clearly a use case with strong economic potential; a comprehensive traceability system, from the production site to the consumer’s plateand not far off for most of the food produced worldwide.

Progressive Web Apps, a powerful new mobile-deployable tool

In an article entitled “A mobile app at any price? ”, I highlighted how difficult it is for brands to get mobile internet users to download a mobile app… and use it. The “chosen ones”, i.e. the brands whose apps are used on a daily basis, really are few and far between; but what’s left for the other brands that are only visited via a web browser? Perhaps the possibility of getting as close as possible to a native experience via a Progressive Web App, or PWA.

What’s a Progressive Web App?

A PWA is quite simply a web app that attempts to offer the best of both worlds, i.e. web and app stores. It doesn’t have to be downloaded because it’s accessible via a browser; it offers an experience similar to that of a native mobile app downloaded from App Store or Play Store.

There are major advantages to a PWA: no need for installation on your mobile, accessibility via an icon installed on your home screen, the option of offline use, even with a low-speed connection. What’s more, it offers a range of native features, particularly full-screen display, push notifications, geolocation and a camera.

Though a mobile strategy is a must for many brands, you don’t necessarily need a downloadable application.

PWAs to solve acquisition and loyalty development issues

Many brands have got in on the action, from social networks like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and even Tinder, to media (L’Equipe, Forbes, Financial Times), as well as famous brands like Uber, Starbucks, Lancôme, and even AliExpress.

With a PWA, they can reach a wider target audience; being accessible via a browser without having to visit a store makes acquisition easier. They can then adopt an acquisition strategy; consumers don’t have to directly engage with the brand as they don’t need to install an application. At the same time, the smartphone-based experience they enjoy meets their expectations. As time passes and visitors return time and again, brands progressively engage consumers via calls-to-action using push notifications, starting with a prompt to install a shortcut icon on their home screen.  

The experience then becomes increasingly progressive. In other words, the more the PWA is used, the richer the interactions become. The relationship with the consumer, who is not a client, develops and strengthens; this is how brands can solve their loyalty development issues.

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In the case of L’Equipe, a mobile internet user first visits the newspaper’s website to read some sports news. After several visits, a pop-in suggests adding the site to their home screen; all they have to do it click on it to visit the site. We can see on the 3rd screen that the display is optimised. The PWA’s potential is starting to be developed with this first stage.

 

PWAs to optimise ROI for digital projects

In addition to an improved web experience and an enhanced acquisition and loyalty development strategy, a PWA is the perfect solution for optimising ROI, the true driving force behind any business.

By focusing on a single mobile channel, the web, acquisition and loyalty development costs are naturally reduced. Let’s also not forget that a native application needs a big budget, covering development costs (for iOS and Android environments), update and maintenance costs, and in-store promotional expenses.

Why not reallocate this budget? Several key budget items could do with it, particularly SEO/SEA strategy, UX design and content creation. These activities are crucial for brands looking to make the most of the web. There’s no reason not to go PWA-exclusive based on the sector, brand awareness, marketing budgets, and targeting needs. 

If using a PWA is an option, brands can decide to opt for the development of a native application. This is also the privilege of the “chosen ones”, big businesses and pure players like Uber and AliExpress that are aiming for ubiquity, by simultaneously targeting loyal users via an application downloaded onto their mobile, and users via a web browser.

By combining the best of both worlds, i.e. web and native, Progressive Web Apps close the gap between responsive sites and applications and meet a user need, which was previously poorly met by brands. A PWA is essential to achieving the strategic objectives of many businesses, since it is an easy solution to adopt and deploy, effectively achieving tangible results. So, before committing to creating a mobile app, think progressively!

How can a progressive web app benefit e-commerce?

The smartphone is the device of choice for large numbers of users around the world. However, network coverage and data availability are still variable and so there are considerable disparities in mobile phone use. While in Europe, YouTube and Netflix account for 30% and 23% respectively of bandwidth consumption, emerging countries have to manage with weaker network performance, while the mobile phone remains the main access point to the internet for their inhabitants. In 2015, Google introduced a new development “standard” to address this issue: the Progressive Web Application (PWA). What are the three main benefits for websites, in an e-commerce context?  

A Progressive Web Application is an application which can be accessed from a simple browser and no longer only through the app store. This means that a website can offer an experience similar to that offered by a native or mobile application. What makes it unique is that it uses a manifest, which means that the site can be installed on a mobile phone without going through an app store, and service workers, which means it can operate on a basic level in the event of network failure and offer a better user experience. 

 

Faster speed 

According to Google, 53% of users leave a page if it does not load within 3 seconds. On a PWA site, content download has been optimised to guarantee good display performance. The cache system has also been designed to update only the element or elements modified since the user’s last visit. Even with a very weak network, Google cuts download time and guarantees a faster and smoother browsing experience.  

According to a case study by Forbes, the page load time before the move to PWA was between 3 and 12 seconds. Now, with the new architecture, the load time is 0.8 seconds! AliExpress announced as early as 2016 that the number of visits to the pages of its website had doubled, browsing time had risen by 74%, and the conversion rate had increased by 104%. Alibaba had noted a 76% increase in its conversion rate and Uber was offering users the possibility of booking a ride through a 2G network.  

As a result of the optimisation of load times, the reduction in the bounce rate and the increase in the number of pages viewed, brands observed another direct benefit: better natural referencing. 

 

Improved reliability 

 

The architecture of a PWA offers a seamless user experience. The PWA can operate on a basic level, even in the event of network failure, and therefore enables users to do certain things, such as post a tweet which will be published when the connection is restored. 

In the e-commerce context, this advantage is twofold: users can log in even when offline, and losses are reduced when users place an order when the network is back up. 

 

A stronger commitment  

The  unique selling proposition involves providing a user experience as close as possible to that offered by a mobile application whose main advantages are that it can:  

  • Offer a full-screen display for a more immersive experience 
  • Create an abridged version of the brand’s website which is accessible directly from smartphones 
  • Implement a notification strategy to boost the number of return visits to the site and secure customer loyalty 

 

Thanks to push notifications, Lancôme, for example, noted a 17% rise in its conversion rate in 2017 and an 8% increase in recovered baskets. 

In spite of their incontestable results, PWA sites are still rare in the digital landscape. As this standard is supported by just one player, Google, its adoption has been restricted. Until recently, it was not possible to offer the same experience to all users using operating systems and web browsers. Microsoft, Apple and other players have now changed their strategies and are increasingly working with this architecture.  

And what if we look even further into the future? The smartphone is an information aggregator; being able to interact with this information in a more native way would allow brands to open up a whole raft of possibilities through their sites. So users could access calendars of future private sales, or even carry out transactions with a single click by using payment APIs. PWA is a goldmine whose potential is crying out to be tapped by brands!   

 

[Checklist] Omnichannel: 7 tips for an effective IT organisation

Companies with a website and mobile app are increasingly looking to homogenise the two channels in order to offer their users service and experience continuity, while optimising development costs.

Download our checklist "Omnichannel - 7 tips for an effective IT organisation"

However, this functional homogenisation presents new challenges for IT departments. Very often, this involves significant changes in termes of organisation, tools and working methods, for several teams.

As “captains” of this transformation, IT departments need to ask themselves the right questions, be methodical and seek support if they are to guide the ship home. Here are some tips for success from web and mobile solutions project managers.

Download our checklist "Omnichannel - 7 tips for an effective IT organisation"

You will discover how to:

  • Work in feature teams
  • Apply standards and new methodologies
  • Adapt workspaces and rituals
  • Facilitate deployments