Treading Water, Shiny Objects and the Challenge of Building a Continually Innovative Service

Posted by Jon Faber on May 20, 2016 3:50:00 PM

In Commerce, Content, Envoy, Strategy

This year we will globally transition a competitor's largest client to our platform. From Envoy’s perspective, what does it mean that this was both possible and successful? Looking at the competitor’s steps since then, what context can be added? Lastly, what can we learn about building an organization that retains its customers?

When Envoy entered the market, our goal was to provide a meaningful experience for all users of our platform. This meant we needed to identify all of our users’ roles and evaluate the jobs each role performs in the platform. By doing this, Envoy could design a simple, coherent and rewarding solution for the user. Although this approach is a time-intensive and ongoing process, it is part of what empowers us to continue to bring useful and innovative features to the platform.

While this approach can seem fundamental to creating anything truly useful, it hasn’t always been present in eCom B2B providers. The inherent complexity and scope of building a platform can make this extremely difficult and most have settled for average user experience and feature set, with old paradigms set in motion by outdated legacy systems that don’t match the way business is currently done. Envoy is here to break that cycle and bring the market a modern B2B Platform. Because of our approach, Envoy brings our clients forward, making them more efficient through tools that help users complete their jobs faster and in a more meaningful way, resulting in channel revenue growth.

Other solutions without these core values are treading water, exposing to their clients that their company can’t continually innovate their B2B solution. The hallmarks of a solution with this problem show through in a few ways:

  1. The UI looks more similar to a library system than to a typical B2C-like shopping experience;
  2. As a user, it takes several steps to find the product information;
  3. It’s main function is the utility of processing orders and does not have integrated marketing tools in a single, seamless system; and
  4. Key workflows are not responsively designed to work at the desktop as well as on a mobile device.

All of these point to an organization that developed and sold a solution but lacks the continued innovation needed to meet the demands of the users and forge new ground for valuable modern features.

“Innovation has nothing to with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s NOT about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.” - Steve Jobs 1998

In response to heightened competition, losing customers and a realization that your solution is behind, a natural reaction is to try and buy the innovation you need to compete. This can manifest in increasing your R&D budget, purchasing a partner or outsourcing your feature development to move quicker. Many organizations often think, “If we could just get these features, then our user base will be happy.”The problem with this reaction is its short-sightedness - it’s ultimately not much different from buying the next new shiny object. Without great people, strong leadership and a value system that prioritizes innovation and stellar service, you won’t continually build something truly useful and meaningful for your users. You’ll simply fall behind again and your clients will continue to jump ship.

So what can we learn from this about building a successful organization? For us, it is to remember that while Envoy is platform, we are also a true service company. The services we provide to our customers are designed to be continuous and seamless. Additionally, our job isn’t only to provide a B2B platform; it’s to provide an always meaningful platform. And finally, that we can’t do this unless innovation and service are our focus.

The team at Envoy Platform takes pride in solving problems, innovating our service, learning how our clients’ Wholesale B2B business run and building modern tools and content to match their needs. For those organizations that understand this value, choosing Envoy Platform is an easy decision.


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