Big Trends in eCommerce (episode 416)

Raphael Thiolon is an Executive Director at Verlinvest a global family backed evergreen investment company with offices around the world. Raph leads the global Verlinvest Consumer Technology practice, with investments in eCommerce stores, marketplaces, and digitally-native brands, past investments include Who Gives a Crap, Lazada, Chewy, and Purplle – an Indian beauty site.

Raphael Thiolon Verlinvest on eCommerce MasterPlan Podcast

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Raph’s eCommerce Journey

Raph shares that his first experience with eCommerce was purchasing books on Amazon when they launched in France.

As a professional, however, he began his eCommerce career around ten years ago when he joined Verlinvest. At Verlinvest, they support entrepreneurs who want to make an impact on the planet and on consumers by offering better products and better experiences.

The two opportunities that Verlinvest got into when they first entered the eCommerce space were the following:

  • Looking at locations with no eCommerce experiences yet 
  • Identifying mature markets that can offer a different experience than Amazon

They backed Lazada, which was the first eCommerce platform in Southeast Asia, and have also worked with companies such as Purplle and Who Gives a Crap

The Big eCommerce Trends Today

Raph says brands need to engage with their customers and be available throughout the purchase journey, both online and offline.

For brands that are not multi-brand retailers, being present on different channels, including wholesale, is important. This strategy means having brand visibility and driving the right acquisition metrics.

When talking about offline, it’s either having your own stores or having a presence in multi-brand concepts. But regardless of the set-up, having this means driving customer acquisition costs lower.

The Importance of Sustainability in eCommerce

Sustainability is at the heart of Verlinvest, and they back entrepreneurs whose mission is to have a positive impact on the planet.

For Raph, one way everyone can help is by reducing returns. Returns are not sustainable and are also very costly. Solutions such as developing your own branded delivery fleet, similar to what Australian company Who Gives a Crap is looking to do, are available but not without challenges. However, Verlinvest helps brands become better incrementally every day. 

Encouraging Consumers to Make Better Decisions

Brands must be engaging and relatable, and they must be able to develop genuine relationships with their customers. When they do this, the customers themselves will be drawn to the value proposition of sustainability.

It can be a daunting mission, so begin with incremental impact. Break down your supply chain and logistics and find out where you can implement improvements that will get you closer to your sustainability goals.

eCommerce Book Top Tip

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • Well done personalized emails to your existing customers for retention and content for driving acquisitions, SEO, and differentiation.

Tool Top Tip

  • Aside from Slack and WhatsApp, Raph recommends stepping away from your gadgets and devices and having a focused discussion with your team, even for just 15 minutes, because this can drive the best decisions you will make.

Growth Top Tip

  • Focus on making every consumer touchpoint perfect and memorable because that’s going to drive repeat purchases, referrals, and word-of-mouth marketing. But because you can’t perfect everything all the time, make sure to invest time and effort into customer service.

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