EP #15: Delighting Customers through E-Commerce Personalization Like MetroDeal

EP #15: Delighting Customers through E-Commerce Personalization Like MetroDeal

About this Podcast

The COVID-19 pandemic is pushing B2C brands to think beyond survival and focus future re-growth.

To understand how e-commerce platforms across emerging markets are reacting to the changing tides of consumer behaviour, we caught up with Matthias Pieringer, COO and Julien Marie, Marketing Technology Officer at MetroDeal, Philippines.

Founded in 2011, MetroDeal is one of the most successful e-commerce platforms in Asia, with growth rates of more than 20% every month. They specialize in being a virtual marketplace, online travel, and hyper-local deals booking portal.

Matthias and Julien share cutting-edge insights on:

  • The importance of the communication and marketing strategy for an e-commerce business during these unprecedented times
  • The need for the organizational C-Suite to adopt an analytical approach
  • The positive impact of personalization across platforms, channels, and devices on marketing ROI and top-line revenues

Listen on to understand the value of personalization to increase conversion and user retention rates for e-commerce platforms, both during and post COVID-19!

Episode Transcripts

Miguel(Host):  “Welcome to today’s podcast today, I am joined by two people from “Metro deal “” “Mr.Julien” and “Mr.Matthias” guys. Could you give a quick greeting, please”? 

Julian:  “Hi everybody. I’m “Julian”, I’m a technology and marketing concepts of the natural deal and then with my chest. 

Matthias:  “Hi my name is “Matthias appearing. I’m the “COO” of “Metro Deal” a Philippine “Daily Deal” company and thank you very much “Netcore” and thank you very much “Miguel” for having us on your podcast today. 

Miguel(Host):  “No worries. No worries. Thank you guys as well for agreeing to do this. It’s definitely a very different kind of world that we’re all living in right now. So it’s a huge Thank you for Attending our meeting today. So I guess the “First” question that I want to raise for our podcast today is how are you guys? and how is “Metro deal” how you guys have been dealing with this lockdown? 

Matthias:  “So, of course, due to the nature of our business, we have been massively affected by the “Coronavirus” in “Paraguay” by the locked on here in the “Philippines” because we are basically selling digital vouchers for “Restaurants” or “Beauty” clinics for “Water parks” for “Hotels” for all those establishments in the country that are currently not open, right? 

Miguel(Host):  “Yeah”

Matthias: “And even though our Shoppers are all online. So basically the traffic is, you know, just decreased a little bit. But of course, the sales dropped like crazy, and that’s the situation right now and we hope that it will get back to normal soon. Let’s see what’s going to happen in May the “Philippines”

 Miguel(Host):  “It’s just right. It’s just right around the corner and based on the news will be hearing what the lockdown sort of plan will be by tomorrow evening here in “Manila”,  So hoping that’ll be a good sort of reflection for business in the future “Julian”. How about on your end”? 

Julian: “Oh yes, the group of sales was dramatic, but at the same time it gives us a kind of a breathing time because the Whirlwind the crazy day-to-day walk has changed” 

Miguel(Host):  “Yeah completely changed” 

Julian:  “That means also like all the Whirlwind like, you know, like the normal day in the office, where you have to take care of all the little problems like that with fewer problems than usual, so the problems are different, so it allows us to focus more long-term planning and focusing on features that we usually have less time to work on, so they’re also Pros to add this little we had a situation so that’s one of the like the only problem that I see with this”. 

Miguel(Host):  “No worries. No worries. I mean you talk about Pros. So I’ve also been wondering here in the Philippines. Anyway, there’s been a sort of mass work from home skiing that’s happened. Essentially people aren’t commuting anymore. People aren’t on the streets as much as they used to be. With that in mind, how has working from home sort of affected “Metro deal” employees and the overall business I would ask as well.” 

Matthias:   “So basically we were not prepared for this right”

Miguel(Host):  “Yeah”

Matthias: “Because we have never worked from home before because our employees and staff need to access, you know, our tools they need to access the data, especially customer service. They need to work in the office in order to do that. Right”? 

Miguel(Host):  “Yes of course”

Matthias:  “So that’s why also in terms of privacy and security cybersecurity, especially right? So that’s why working from home is never something that we have done at maturity before and we were also not prepared in terms of laptops, for instance, It came quite suddenly, right all of a sudden it says okay starting in two days. Everyone has to work from home and nobody is allowed to go to work anymore and we weren’t prepared, So we had to buy 16 laptops within two days, of course, we weren’t the only company in need of laptops. So it was quite difficult for us to source and to find laptops and install all the necessary tools that we need to work from home such as “TeamViewer” such as a “VPN access”, etc, etc. So it was quite a mission but we like to manage everything last-minute. So yeah, that’s why we’re still up and running I guess” 

Miguel(Host):  “Yeah That’s a very interesting point. I mean you mentioned that you guys were able to sort of manage everything. So I’d like to dive deep a little bit more on that so in terms of productivity or in terms of keeping everything managed and shipshape how have you guys been able to do that? Do you guys have any specific processes that you have in place or new processes? Rather since this is a new thing that”

Julian:  “I think it depends really on the type of things that you’re talking about. Like some things are really quite I’ve already strong processes in place and the now industry the only problems for them with the access to the tools and the data but like “Paul customer service” by example back, they’ll walk fundamentally doesn’t change a lot for some of the teams like the “Dev team”,  I think work from home allows kind of flexibility to have more like deep walk, there is less perturbations, So until those productivity if they have a good internet connections and good computer, It’s quite good,  The problem in the end is like in the “Philippines” the internet connection often bad behavior issues that we have like the problem that we have with a laptop is also apparent depth of performance of the equipment for everybody and things like that, So let’s think that we try to handle but in fact instead of having out man come in conference room, we have it on “Google Hangouts” try to adapt and also to teach the people who were not totally accustomed to all these tools like how to manage things better personally, I’ve been always a proponent of work from home, I think like if you give every employee the right place for them to be the most productive whether it’s inside the company or inside the office or at home as long as communication is there and you allow like a synchronous communication when the productivity shouldn’t be impaired,  The problem is communication how you manage to keep everybody on the same page all the time” 

Miguel(Host):  “So “Julian” you mentioned earlier, How about how you communicate with your team and how that is essential or vital for being productive, but now I kind of want to bring that focus of communication to your other sort of the point of communication with your customers, So with regards to this lockdown or with regards to the pandemic that’s been going on. Have you guys experienced any difference in communicating with your customers? Are you guys changing the method of how you’re sort of talking to them? Are you changing your strategies? How’s that been”? 

Julian: “So we have two types of customers, We have “Alma trance” and “our users”,  So “Retro-trends” is a medium of communication with emotions and we had to change our contents of communication with our users, and with our users, we need to be less commercial but more like helping, also we change our products line to be morning phase like with a Dinosaur it’s more like products that are about learning like online learning products, donations, like that and we communicate mostly about how to go these difficult times and giving tips and things like that. So we change our Communications to what that with our chance we try to adapt because we are sales team we’re used to face to face meetings and presentations and all that, So we are moving to “Virtual meetings”, “calls”, “Google Hangouts” presentation, so the biggest obstacles that may come more in touch with the sales team done, I think like reaching the merchants because a lot of them have lower availabilities because its operations are often get shut down, so that’s one big obstacle that we have”

Miguel(Host):  “So with regards to my Next question then considering all that’s happened in the world and with business. What do you guys think is the main thought for the prevailing idea that business leaders should have during this type of world crisis”?

Matthias: “Julian, please go ahead”

Julian: “Okay, The big thing is business just had to wear two hats at the same time. The “First” hat was “Faith” is the emergency like “Matthias” is saying like in two days sitting up everything to be able to continue the operations with work from home and etc controlling costs, managing to keep clients for the companies who have like more “B2B” businesses and stopping consolations for like all these emergencies that comes with a crisis and, The “second” thing is the second hat is they have to be analytical because first it’s unprecedented like in modern history like the last 100 years we have never seen something like that and we are in a situation where It kind of puts in a stop to the globalization like all the import-export or the stack, the airline industry is in really bad shape the supply chains in really bad shape too so and a lot of countries have closed border, well does it will last a long time even if the lockdown is stopped, the opening of borders will take a while”

Miguel(Host):  “Yes”

Julian: “I think that has to be that in effect so they will be what after that we have to prepare so that’s where the analytical mind of entrepreneurs have to be up while facing the everyday emergencies of saving the business and making sure that this business survives the mounts of these prices,  So it’s I think the two hats that are really hard to combine but needs to be combined faces”

Matthias: “In terms of “Metro deal”, what we did is, of course, there are a lot fewer sales than before and I mean a lot right but we know we can push through this and  we are now using the time, we’re now using the time like 9-10-11 hours sometimes a day to make our products better to improve it and to improve everything across all departments, you know, and that’s why it’s important especially for a business, you know for the management team for not letting yourself go, I mean, I’m currently”

Miguel(Host):  “Understood and I think that’s a very good point to make. I mean this is leaders and even employees or teams in general. They’ve had to make quite different and quite let’s call it creative solutions to sort of just adapt and to be able to survive throughout this pandemic, So thank you guys for sharing your opinions on the “Covid” rather on the pandemic that we’ve all been experiencing throughout the world. But for now, in order to sort of get into the next topic that I wanted to discuss which was perfectly set up by “Matthias” you mentioned how surviving or creating strategies in order to survive is essential even especially within these times right now and one of the big topics and marketing about how to remain relevant and how to survive is with personalized marketing, So one thing I kind of wanted to pick your brains on was what are your ideas as marketers and what are your opinions on personalized marketing”? 

Matthias: “So when we talk about personalization and especially the rich make personalization, so Like “Netflix” is doing or “Google Now” is doing with search results, but we’re talking about the bias amplifier some of the same models that are trying to detect the bias of each user and so in usually with “Elektra currencies” and then it learns these biases and mathematically these vectors, So it fits the idea of a bias to be rich and then it makes a recommendation based on these bias, So it’s really powerful, but the problem is these biases you train them based on “KPI’s” so the mistake that can be done is one choosing the wrong “KPI’s” that will create the wrong effect. Like there is a famous story when “YouTube” created the first version of the recommendation algorithm it was trained to push towards more popular videos and the joke inside “YouTube” was like if you stay on “YouTube” long enough, you will always end on “The Gangnam Style” video and when they change the algorithm it created other effects that it boosted the popularity of the “Flat Earth Society” and this kind of things so it has really a huge consequence, The “PPI” is you train your model on a new personalization on will have a big consequence on your business directly in terms of ROI and Money, but also indirect in terms of behavior that you push towards your users. So for me, Commerce websites like ours don’t have much of a cultural impact like “YouTube”. So if we sell more beauty products than restaurants, it’s okay. Could you ready speaking of society the king but it has this kind of impact so you have to choose your “KPI’s” carefully and know that It can increase engagement it can increase conversion rates, but it’s not”

Miguel(Host):  Considering the potential and basically the results that personalization has shown us. Do you believe marketing will ever sort of go back to let’s say a traditional means of marketing or is personalization really the surviving or really the strategy that everyone should be doing moving” 

Jullian: “I think traditional marketing is, Marketing is really about what is a brand. What is the product to the market? And now do you make these things go inside? Like what is the positioning of the product? What is the target market of the product personalization is a way for you to optimize this Market fit and instead of talking about a segment of customers you are talking about each customer. But if you don’t understand, what is your brand in the first place? It’s a tool that is tremendous that can really be a game-changer. But it is just a marketing” 

Matthias:  “I think it’s all about the right marketing mix that suits the specific company needs and the business model. Right? 

Miguel(Host):  “Essentially. I think it’s quite a balancing act of some kind it’s sort of finding as you said finding at the right fit for the right Market For the Right audience to be able to effectively communicate with everyone and I think that’s a wonderful way to end our podcast and I thank you guys so much again for attending”.

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