VERTONE Blog – Product and service platforms: the new challenge for companies in their digital transformation

VERTONE Blog – Product and service platforms: the new challenge for companies in their digital transformation


Today, many players are converging on the establishment of one or more platforms aimed at offering the end customer an ecosystem of partners, services or products. These platforms capitalize on the strength of their brand, their customer portfolio and their ecosystem of partners. In this race for the platform economy, two main types of players are opposed.

  • On the one hand, pure players who have developed and built via digital: Back Market, Blablacar, Deezer, Doctolib, Manomano, Meero …
  • On the other hand, traditional players who intend to take part in this platform economy. Among these players, many are the users of the Mirakl solution: a French player, world leader in the creation of marketplaces, which has equipped many large French groups with marketplaces.

Why have platforms integrated the daily life of a large number of French people? On what value proposition do they compete with traditional players?

The reality of the platform economy

Platforms have become an integral part of most consumers’ lives, or a minimum alternatives to traditional shops recognized by all. So much so that today we speak of the “platformization” of the economy.

Traditional actors and their platform equivalent

This trend is not recent but still seems to be accelerating with traditional players taking an increasing part in it. Their use of digital technology has also been accelerated by the Covid-19 health crisis. It is enough to take an overview of most of the industries to see this.

Indeed, most large groups are entering the platform economy in several ways:

  • Via partnerships with existing players,
  • By entering the capital of start-ups,
  • By buying pure-players
  • By creating their own platform

Behind the notion of a platform lie several realities

The platform can first be defined as a set of tools (software, hardware, operating systems, etc.) intended for the storage and sharing of virtual content (audio, video or others). It can also be an intermediary who creates a market by allowing supply and demand to meet.

These seemingly simple elements nevertheless allow companies to redefine their activity and at the same time their relationship to their end customers thanks to digital transformation.

We can then distinguish two types of platforms:

1 / The most mature: product platforms

They are the first to have emerged: marketplaces or product platforms. These platforms such as Amazon or Cdiscount have quickly won the esteem of users for their wide range of products, their optimized logistics chain and their ability to offer the right product, at the right time, to the right customer.

2 / The latest arrivals: service platforms

These platforms, unlike products, attack services by revolutionizing their distribution. They make it easy to book an appointment, access many additional services and / or target specific moments of life. We find this type of platform in all sectors: for example Uber for transport or Papernest for supporting users during their move.

The platforms, it will be understood, are polymorphic: they do not respond to one but to objectives. They can address both BtoC and BtoB. Ultimately, they represent a way for companies to find new growth levers.

To understand the importance of these platforms, just look at the activity generated by them, especially product platforms.

The platforms in a few figures

The 8 advantages of a platform for a company and its end customers

The most successful platforms have several common traits, namely: their ability to provide a strong service ecosystem, a smooth customer journey and the assurance for the end customer to have a fast end-to-end experience ( from purchase to delivery).

VERTONE has identified the 8 assets of a platform for a company and its end customers.

  1. The network effect, the key factor of platforms at the origin of many externalities : The more these platforms are used, the more reasons they have to be used (more offers, better prices, etc.): a virtuous circle which self-sustains the growth of the platform.
  2. The diversity of choices : The platforms are structured around supply before being structured around demand. The more a platform has offers, the more it will be able to attract prospects and especially to satisfy them.
  3. Price optimization : The platforms by their volume of activity are able to offer the best price to their users.
  4. The figure of the trusted third party : The principle of a platform is to be the intermediary between a customer and a supplier. A role that also allows them to ensure their “scalability” (the scaling of their activity) by only taking part in one part of the value chain: networking.
  5. The power of data : The more a platform is used, the more data it has and therefore a strong customization capacity:
    • Expand its product line
    • Optimize stock
    • Personalize your speech
  6. Autonomy given to actors : These platforms empower the end customer as much as the seller. Both have specific interfaces:
    • The customer benefits from a variety of offers and simplified purchasing and delivery journeys
    • The seller can for his part configure the information of his interface, add new products and monitor his sales.
  7. The community : Most of these platforms play on the notion of community. They capitalize on the feedback from their customers to refer new prospects.
  8. The ecosystem of services : The platforms provide many services that revolve around an initial offer. Services that allow players to increase their customer knowledge, to get involved in new activities as well as to improve the customer experience offered.

Synthetic

Platforms occupy a considerable place in the strategy of companies for two reasons: they represent an added value for end users as much as for the actors mastering them and consequently begin to structure an increasing part of online sales. They also make it possible to act on many key concepts of the customer experience: loyalty, personalization, community, customer knowledge.

In addition, if today most of the recognized platforms are those that market products, it seems natural to us that service platforms follow the same trajectory in the future. Platforms can no longer be ignored and will represent an essential channel for the distribution of services.

VERTONE has for several years supported many players in the framework for the operational implementation of their platform of products and services. Contact us to know more.

An article written by Axel Delannoy



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