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Industry Buzz – August 2014

Hi sellers!

Enjoy last month’s resources to help you win in this rapidly changing market.

Until next time, happy selling!

Cool Companies Interview Series – About Big Content with Treparel  

treparelThere’s so much buzz around Big Data – but how about Big Content? Surely, an up and coming area, getting sexier as usage cases expand. For example, you watch your sales drop in a certain region – it’s good that you’re tracking, but the next more important step is to understand why they dropped, and – even more importantly – what you are going to do about it.

This is where Big Content comes in, helping you understand patterns and connections between complaints and the sales drop. And this is just one example.

Crossing over to the vendor side, you have Big Content – how do you sell it? How do you monetize it? As is the case with many other software verticals, Big Content buyers want to try before they buy and want to pay with subscriptions to avoid high upfront costs.

We’ve spoken recently to Jeroen Kleinhoven, CEO of Treparel, to understand more about Big Content, its applications and some predictions for the future.                                              treparel

 

Avangate: So, Jeroen, tell us about Big Content and what it means for Treparel.

JK: To start, let me give you some quick background info: content (unstructured data) represents almost 80% of the data within an organization, so quite a big percentage. Still, with the help of Business Intelligence and Business Analytics tools, most companies are focusing on analyzing, reporting on and visualizing structured data (financial data), essentially tackling just 20% of the enterprise data and neglecting the remaining 80%.

However, usage cases are endless. For example, if you notice – using a BI tool – that your revenue has dropped in a particular region, then Content Analytics can show you how many client complaints were filed (call center data, comments on community reviews, etc.)  and the overall nature of these complaints.

The convergence of the two specific technologies – BI and Big Content-, together with Enterprise Search, is, according to IDC, the ultimate decision support solution for an organization.

Also, in its July 2014 edition of the “Emerging Technologies’ Hype Cycle” Gartner predicts that mainstream adoption of Content Analytics is just 2 to 5 years away and mainstream adoption of Big Data is over 5 to 10 years away. Hopefully this tells you something about the importance of Big Content.

So at Treparel (Delft, The Netherlands), we offer a service called KMX Big Content Analytics and Visualization solutions for organizations in private and public sectors to gain faster, more reliable, and more precise insights into large complex enterprise content, websites, email, patents and research literature. Basically, on unstructured data.

Avangate: Application areas are endless, of course – any trendy examples? For instance, I saw a post on your blog on 3D printing – how does Big Content work for that?

JK: The blog post provided a sample analysis to reveal the patent landscape of 3D technologies and vendors. It demonstrated that Big Content is able to give answers to unasked questions; it visualizes a large set of content (patents in this example) which you can further explore. It’s a very commonly used application of our KMX Big Content product. You can do similar kinds of analysis with content like emails, blogs or information in a Content Management System.

Avangate: Who buys Big Content and have you noticed any changes in the way Big Content is bought?

JK: The buyers of our software are private and public organizations that, most often, provide Analytical use cases. For the Academic world, that analyze large volumes of data for decades, we have a special Big Content KMX package.

So who’s the actual buyer in these organizations? Usually, these are the Information Analysts or Data Scientists guys, but CIOs of larger organizations are starting to explore and invest in Big Content capabilities as well. The IP Dashboard solution, which we’ve jointly developed with a partner, is licensed directly by the business, in this case IP management of Fortune 500 companies.

What is interesting to note is that when the company was founded, in 2006, the industry was mostly about perpetual licenses with an annual fee for maintenance & support. Today, CIOs and Business Decision-makers are seeking more flexible and investment-friendly models with ongoing access to a service, rather than the purchase of a one-time product. So our Big Content package, KMX, can be purchased on a yearly subscription basis. We also offer free trials. We’ve found most companies prefer a supported proof-of-concept to get the fastest ROI of the software.

Since we started with a SaaS-type license, we also started to develop an indirect sales model through Value Added Resellers and an online webshop for Independent Consultants, SMBs and Academics, noticing an increased appetite for direct online purchases.

Avangate: Noticed that you focus on the developer community and API – how important is that aspect for your business and what role do developers play today?

JK: Developers are of growing importance to us. We cooperate with an evolving group of partners in Patent Services, Fraud Detection, eDiscovery and Forensics, most of them with text mining expertise. They are using our Big Content KMX software and our developer API to ignite their own vertical solutions with a modular-clustering, machine-learning based classification and visualization engine.

Most open source tools require substantial development, but our developer API guarantees a fast go-to-market of our clients’ solution. Both developers and partners can benefit from the years of research, development and client experiences in our KMX product.

Avangate: Please make a bold prediction for 2015 as far as Big Content is concerned.

JK: In 2015, I expect CIOs and Business Decision-makers to become much more aware about the unprecedented value they can gain when they tap into their numerous sources of enterprise content, igniting their Business Intelligence projects with Search and Text Analytics / Content Analytics use cases.

 

Back to School TIP: Top 10 Myths of Payment Processors

It’s September, which means, summer’s officially over and everyone’s going back to school, and back to school shopping means lots and lots of commerce. But just as every calculator isn’t a scientific calculator, neither is every payment processor a digital commerce provider.  The problem is, when the packaging looks the same, called the same thing and they both claim to provide the same functionality – how do you tell the difference?

It’s time for a TIP – Truth in Payments – to help you understand the difference between payment processors and digital commerce providers. Here are some common myths that you hear from the payment processors:

 

Myth #1:  “We sell conversion(s).”

Truth: Payment processors charge for access to their platform, the gateway, and their payment methods. They make money irrespective of whether your transaction is successful, imposing fees every time a charge is ran, when a card is declined, or when refunds, chargebacks, or fraudulent transactions occur.

 

Myth #2:  “We have 200+ payment methods”

Truth:  Payment processors often consider every type of credit card (including debit cards), gateways, and individual bank ACH and wire options as a unique, payment method, which when added up can look like a lot of methods, when in reality, it’s only a handful.

 

Myth #3:  “We offer subscription payments”

Truth:  Most payment processors don’t support recurring transactions.  They support recurring payments via a wallet only or via a third party partnership, which means another implementation, another party to manage, another negotiation for rates, another contract to sign, etc.

Read 7 more myths at www.truthinpayments.com.

Bottomline: You need to think and go beyond payments – Avangate’s digital commerce solution also represents the intersection of three areas – Smarter Payments, eCommerce and Subscriptions – and like that scientific calculator, can solve even your most complex problems. That’s a TIP you can take to the bank.

 

3 Innovative Software and Online Services Companies Embracing the New Services Economy

Starting a company is hard. At times it’s both the best job and the worst job in the world. But having been a founding member of companies in the past – I can tell you that the good times outweigh the bad times by a zillion to one. Well, maybe not a zillion but you get the idea.

My point is the good times are amplified for good reason – some people equate it to being a parent – some people say it’s like when you first start college. I think it’s probably more like being a parent while you are still in college – part utter chaos, part “are you kidding me?”, part total exhaustion, and of course part unbelievable joy.

The sum of these parts equal key learnings and experiences that you get to put in the nostalgia bank for later that you wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. Oh yes, and sometimes you end up changing the world.

At Avangate, we pride ourselves on helping software and online services companies grow and build their businesses and are thrilled to recognize the 3 winners of this year’s Avangate Business of Software (BoS) Scholarship Program. These 3 companies are using both new technology and innovative business models to offer their customers compelling online solutions and push the New Services Economy to new levels.

Thanks to everyone who applied for our BoS Scholarship program.  It was not an easy decision to select only 3 winners and we appreciate all your efforts.

With that said, please help me raise a glass to our 2014 Avangate Business of Software Scholarship winners:

  • CloudPress, a SaaS product of Extend Studio, offers a set of tools and services designed to eliminate the coding and server tasks for WordPress site designers.
  • Effective Computing developed VoiceShortCuts, a voice command system that reduces the stress and limitations of computer use, enhancing productivity.
  • Pivotdesk is an online service that is changing the way people find office space: an office sharing marketplace that helps companies offset costs by sharing their excess office space with smaller companies and entrepreneurs looking for a place to grow their business.

As part of the overall Avangate BoS scholarship program, all of our winners will:

For those who are in the Boston area, we invite you to join us as we celebrate the Avangate BoS Scholarship winners at our networking dinner. It’s a great opportunity to share ideas with other emerging software and online services industry leaders and make valuable connections to help push your company or organization to new levels. Note space is very limited.

Dinner Details:

When: Tuesday Sept 16, 2014 from 6PM to 10PM (networking 6PM to 7PM; dinner 7PM to 10PM)
Where: Morton’s Restaurant – Private Dining Room & Lounge

Please RSVP and RESERVE YOUR SEAT!

Congrats again to all of our winners and I look forward to seeing you in Boston!

Affiliate Summit East ’14 – Wrap-Up

“The digital goods market is growing, and Avangate is here to help” – in my opinion, was the most important takeaway from the recent Affiliate Summit East show in New York City.

Avangate has been participating in affiliate events for over 5 years now, and we’ve spoken not just once, but many times on the topic of digital goods and how Avangate can help affiliates sell more. Now with the new services economy, it has changed the way companies interact with customers and, of course, this is visible in the affiliate channel as well. But now, more than ever, we saw an abundance of digital goods-related companies from the affiliate ecosystem: software and services merchants, many software monetization solutions, etc.  Who knows how many of these companies will still be in this market 18 months from now, but agencies are catering to this vertical – naturally making them the affiliates that everyone wants to meet.

Speaking of the show itself, according to Shawn and Missy, it’s the biggest one on the East coast so far. We witnessed that firsthand in the Meet Market where, at times, it would like the Times Square crowd was being detoured through the conference area. Not only that, but the quality of the leads we received was higher and more relevant than ever before.

I held a presentation on affiliate retention techniques – in the new short format of 18 minutes – and the slides can be viewed here:

In my opinion, one of the best conference events was the Avangate Software Networking Dinner where more than 50 lead representatives across the software and services verticals gathered together for great networking, great food, and great fun.

All in all, it was a very good show, and we’re looking forward to the Vegas show in January – Affiliate Summit West 2015. If you’re into digital goods, contact me, as we’re preparing a new event concept that we want to roll out at ASW15.

Fields of Gold for (e)Commerce – Happy 20th Birthday!

This month marks the 20th birthday of ecommerce – it’s been two decades since NetMarket sold “Ten Summoner’s Tales” by Sting (as a physical CD, of course, not a download – we weren’t that advanced back then, plus the disc would have taken hours to download on dial-up). We’ve come a long way since SSL technology finally enabled secure payments by protecting personal information and Amazon sold only books. Now, the online retailer sells everything from boots to bookends, and has millions of competitors aiming for a piece of the online sales pie.

Over the years, we’ve seen ecommerce go from a niche element to a mainstay of our lives, touching on various trends such as social commerce, subscriptions, group buying, flash sales, and more. A few of the notable ecommerce milestones over the years include:

1994: NetMarket sells Sting CD
1994: Amazon registers its domain name
1995: Amazon makes its first sale and eBay comes on to the scene
1997: Amazon went public; eBay conducted $95 million in sales
1998: PayPal offers a new, secure way to pay online
1999: Alibaba Group was created in China; Salesforce founded as an early SaaS innovator; Netflix introduced monthly subscriptions
2000: Pets.com ran $1.2 million Super Bowl ad, went public, and folded – all in one year
2003: iTunes Store opened, selling music downloads
2004: Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI) was formed to protect buyers
2005: Amazon launched Prime membership with free two-day shipping, Web 2.0 concept becomes widespread
2006: Amazon Web Services officially launched, a first step in making it easier for software to be delivered online
2006: Avangate launched its commerce platform for software and digital goods (well, it’s our blog post, had to squeeze it in :-)
2007: iPhone was released, Facebook tried social commerce with Beacon, Gilt Groupe launched online flash sales, and there were over 70 million Cyber Monday shoppers
2011: Groupon IPO marked pinnacle of group buying; Adobe launched Creative Cloud online subscription version of its Creative Suite software
2012: Square makes any mobile device into a credit card reader
2013: China sets new record in online sales in one day with more than $5B shopping spree on Alibaba’s Singles’ Day
2014: Mobile commerce expected to total $114 billion, B2C ecommerce $1.47 trillion

It’s clear that (e)commerce has come a long way since 1994, and there’s still plenty of room for growth, both in general and across new devices: mobile commerce may represent 25 percent of all commerce sales by 2016 according to eMarketer, and Forrester predicts online sales will represent 11 percent of total US retail sales by 2018.

In just 20 years, buying online has become deeply entrenched in the fabric of commerce and our lives, as people and as professionals. Over the years, ecommerce has evolved from a stressful operation involving pixelated shopping cart icons and lots of soothing security badges to a smooth process that few people think twice about. Primary concerns with online commerce now are not just security but also convenience – how fast can the purchase be completed and the item be delivered? Amazon’s Prime membership, local lockers, and drone deliveries are just a few of the aggressive innovations in this space. But with many SaaS companies and online services in play, plenty of sales involve no physical delivery.

The multitude of options for information and purchases also ensures a truly individual buying process. The era of the monolithic path to purchase and rigid PO system is fading into the background as flexible recurring billing solutions based on consumer needs enter into the enterprise space as well.

Given the dominance of ecommerce in our lives, we think this 20th anniversary may be the time for (e)commerce to finally become simply commerce, with the term expanding to encompass web, mobile, and multi-channel buying as shopper habits continue to evolve.

After all, we process information across so many channels online and offline, that it’s impossible to segment out digital purchases anymore. We may see a physical ad at a bus stop, a digital ad on the Facebook mobile app, and an online banner ad on a news site before making an online purchase that we pick up in store. With the boundaries between the web and the world so blurred, ecommerce is truly just commerce these days.

Just like the single on the Sting album that was the first online purchase, commerce everywhere has the potential to create “Fields of Gold” for all the merchants who participate.

Avangate on BBC Radio 4: The Disruptive Nature Of Technology And the New Services Economy

Joe Lynam, business reporter with the BBC, interviewed Michael Ni, Avangate’s CMO, on the disruptive nature of technology – and how it shakes up traditional industries. As an intro to his BBC Today Radio 4 reportage, Lynam urged his audience to look at how Amazon changed book-selling and how companies like Uber are threatening the traditional taxi market. But the internet is also helping get people into work who would otherwise be excluded. Almost 100,000 people are working in call centres in Britain from their own homes. Lynam went along to find out more about the technology disruption from Avangate, the company that “helps new startups use the internet to attack traditional sectors such as hospitality or even legal services”.

Avangate’s Michael Ni, commenting also on the Uber phenomena in Europe, mentioned that “when any industry is disrupted, first thing that happens is the old guard, those with assets to protect, will use the legal system, which was built around them, to protect their way of business. But the good and the bad of this is that the new rules of the services economy are here to stay.”

New technology not only helps people [i.e. homeworkers] get back into the economy, it also improves the efficiency of companies whose business model is affected. Michael Ni continued by pointing out that “people are now able to work from anywhere in the world. And that has implications not only to the types of folks whose jobs are now being put onto the world stage, but also cities themselves – why do people have to work in a city?. When we look at the macro side of this it is both how services are being offered, but also where are people going to be gravitating towards.”

This interview was part of the “Homeworking Package Today” broadcasted by the BBC on Aug 7th 2014 – listen to the full coverage here.

Can Better Payments Boost Sales 11%, Instantly?

Payments may seem simple and unimportant – they just involve exchanging money for goods or services, right? Even young kids can go to the store and buy candy for pennies, or (these days) make bids on eBay for interesting comics or toys. But modern payments have the potential to be much more, and to contribute to your bottom line as a merchant as well. A more dynamic payments layer can become another important ally in your quest to sell more services more expertly, and even boost your sales by more than ten percent without any additional effort on your part.

Many people attempt to silo payments, picking a separate vendor to handle just payments, but it’s actually crucial to integrate payments into the entire shopping experience. Imagine if you had to walk across the street or next door to make a purchase at a local shop. You’d probably set down your item on the journey and give up on the process. That’s what it feels like to your customers when you send them away to log into separate services, like PayPal or Google Wallet, to pay for your products. You’re brushing them off and reducing the chance they’ll come back to complete the purchase.

There’s also a lot more to the payment experience than a simple transaction. What happens when customers reside in a different country, want to use a different payment method, or forget to update a credit card on their account? You want to handle all of these scenarios for customers seamlessly, rather than forcing them to figure out a solution on their own. But most existing payment solutions can’t accommodate all these customer needs. Also the obstacles in establishing the ability to take payments globally are often more than the merchant realized, and they spend time tackling those foreign payments obstacles instead of growing their business – losing valuable time-to-market.

Instead of relying on an existing, but limited, external solution for payments, companies can increase conversion, authorization, and renewal rates by taking a more holistic and customer centric approach to payments. Rather than looking at payments as simply something to check off a list of requirements, companies should begin to view them as an asset that can improve the customer experience and boost sales. To do so, companies should focus on four elements:

  1. Integrate: Integrated payments create a seamless experience for your customer, whether for one-time transactions or subscriptions. Ensure that the integration covers subscription billing and recurring revenues, as well as ecommerce fundamentals like product pricing, promotions, and testing. Without each of these elements, you can’t truly create a positive, integrated payment experience.
  2. Optimize: Optimize renewal, authorization, and conversion rates with smart tools like automatic card updates, retry logic for failed payments, and intelligent payment routing to facilitate approved transactions. Taking a few simple steps can increase authorization levels by more than 100 percent (70 percent from account updating, 5 percent from retry logic, and 30 percent from intelligent payment routing). That’s a boost you can’t say no to.
  3. Expand: Turn distribution channels into revenue engines by expanding to the channels where your customers buy. Whether you utilize VARs, virtual sellers or affiliates, you can rapidly expand your global footprint and boost your sales worldwide.
  4. Fix fundamentals: A commerce solution needs to take care of fundamentals like fraud prevention, tax handling, chargebacks and refunds, and more, all to ensure that small issues never prevent big business.

operations commerce payments

It’s possible to buy various solutions for each of these areas and integrate them manually, or even build a custom solution yourself. However, it can be much faster, easier, cheaper, and more reliable to pick a complete commerce solution like Avangate that already combines all the elements in a proven yet flexible manner. The key is to select a platform that goes beyond payment fundamentals to offer real business opportunities.

For more tips on integrating, optimizing and expanding payments to get better revenue uplift, check out our white paper that describes how to Go Beyond Payments.

Add Some Summer-time Sizzle to Your Affiliate Program with These 6 Tips

Another beautiful summer is upon us, signified by long sunny days, BBQs with friends, fun on the beach, and affiliate program success. If your sales are lower than average during the summer, it doesn’t have to just be “the way it is.” It’s normal to see a drop in sales when everybody’s on vacation and not thinking about buying digital goods.  Speaking specifically about affiliate channels, we see on average a drop of about 20% in the summer months compared to the rest of the year. The good news is; this trend can be changed.

Here are 6 tips you can implement during the summer months (June – August) to prepare for a strong rise in affiliate sales starting September:

  1. Run summer campaigns with your affiliates. Engage them in various marketing activities to keep them on their toes and motivate them to keep up with sales. Here are some examples of things to leverage: product end-of-life sales, new product launches, network contests, etc.
    This will bring you some incremental sales as well as build awareness for new products.
  2. Attend affiliate marketing oriented conferences. In June there is PMI Europe and in August there’s the well-known Affiliate Summit East. Speaking of Affiliate Summit East – are you coming to New York this August? We’ll be there – booth #113 in the Meet Market, and I will also be presenting on affiliate retention techniques.
    Great opportunity for networking at these events with the participant mix being on average 50% agencies and networks, 25% affiliates/publishers and 25% merchants/advertisers.
  3. Monetize the Back To School season. Back to School season starts in August, and, if you’re selling B2C products and services, it’s a great time to leverage their need this time of year and run campaigns on your affiliate channel. Think coupons, academic type licenses, bundles and dedicated creatives as marketing tools.
    You should see incremental sales from these timely-ran, seasonal activities.
  4. Communicate with your affiliates. Don’t just use trade shows for your networking and communication outlet. If you’re not in touch with your affiliates on a regular basis, create a survey and find out what your affiliate partners are looking for from you to promote your products and what new ideas they might have to help.
    Maintaining communication with your affiliates leads to greater brand/product awareness with your partners, making it easier for them to sell, which translates into more sales for you.
  5. Localize products with the help of affiliates. To penetrate certain markets, best practices state that you have a higher chance if your product and website are localized. Use affiliates to help localize your products/website (and motivate them accordingly) so that the autumn season finds you prepared for new audiences in new locales.
    This will help your local SEO efforts, as well as the visitor-to-purchase conversion rate.
  6. Take a step back and look at your overall affiliate program performance. Use these long days of summer to review your sales trends, understand your exposure, and analyze the profiles of your top affiliates. Revisit your affiliate program terms & conditions, understanding that in order to maximize your earnings, you may need to adjust the terms for particular industries/verticals. For example, if you don’t see a lot of SEM affiliates promoting your products/services, you may want to look over your SEM policies and adjust them to be more inclusive.
    Understanding where your sales come from, who drives them, and the terms that best support you and your affiliates will give you a better idea of the health of your affiliate program as well as highlight opportunities for you to better align the program to your business objectives.

Summer is in full swing, so take the time to implement these 6 tips.

Remember to keep your affiliates active and engaged during the summer. Ping them about conferences and events they might be attending and consider meeting them so you can discuss program goals together.

Make the most out of the soon-to-be-upon-us Back to School season and drive sales and interest with timely activities. Localize products and websites for maximum market penetration and seek out your affiliates for help and best practices.

And finally, take this opportunity to assess the overall health of your affiliate program. Try these 6 tips and see your sales and your affiliates succeed.

Let me know some of your favorite summer-time affiliate wellness activities. Comment below.

Industry Buzz – June 2014

Hi sellers!

Enjoy this month’s snackable bites of commerce and digital news from across the web.

  • How will Amazon’s new offering disrupt commerce? And will it be a hit with consumers?
  • Products are dead. We are surrounded by services. They have become so pervasive, we don’t even think of them as we use them. A recent consumer survey that Avangate conducted revealed some interesting new data around online services. Here are some of the key findings.
  • For a SaaS business, there’s the usual list of compelling reasons to focus on the States, but here’s why you can’t afford to miss the Asian SaaS boom.
  • Learn the difference between a complete commerce platform and just payments, and discover how Avangate can help companies accelerate their online digital revenues worldwide.
  • New 2014 survey results offer a look at how CMOs are allocating budgets and prioritizing investments. But how should you use the data? Gartner offers a few suggestions.
  • SaaS companies care a lot about client retention and business optimization through automation. Here’s an example of a SaaS company that increased retention by 20% and improved customer experience with Avangate. The company can now go to market twice as fast due to the platform’s strong subscription management and self-service capabilities.
  • Launched during the Google Analytics Certified Partner Summit, new “Enhanced Ecommerce” functionality across the platform represents a fairly huge step in customer understanding for Google Analytics. See what’s different in this latest version.
  • Selling digital goods and services to a global audience needs a combination of smarter payments, commerce, and distribution. Download this whitepaper on “Go Beyond Payments” and learn why it’s time to put an end to the bleeding of revenue caused by a narrow focus on payments.
  • The Brazilian market is in a league of its own, with very particular legislation and taxation impacting cross-border purchases, capable of posing difficulties to international companies. Here’s a short list of the best practices that you need to be aware of when selling online in Brazil.
  • According to Supreme Court, software patents need to get specific.

Thanks for checking out this month’s digital buzz. Stay tuned for more!

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