Ram ChandraSekar, Founder & CEO
For many enterprises, “going digital” may sound as easy as moving from point A to B. However, in reality, it paints a different picture. A recent report from Harvard Business Review states that CEOs and senior executives find "digital transformation risk" to be their number one concern in 2019. Seventy percent of today's digital transformation initiatives do not meet the intended goals. Of the $1.3 trillion that was spent on digital transformation last year, it's estimated that $900 billion went to waste. Why do some digital transformation efforts succeed, and others fail?
During digital transformation, one of the major factors that even enterprise giants tend to overlook is the "customer experience" part. Especially in the e-commerce realm, digital transformation without a great customer experience can spell disaster for companies. Most of the generic e-commerce solutions today are focused on transactions and conversions, rather than the experience. i.e., “how do I convert eyeballs and page views into a cart? How to convert a cart into checkout revenue?”
"Conversions on an e-commerce platform today are measured purely from a seller’s point of view(POV), not an end customer’s (POV)," says Ram ChandraSekar, Founder and CEO, PhaseZero Ventures. As a Silicon Valley-based e-commerce software partner, PhaseZero Ventures wants to turn this table into the benefit of their clients. “We take the POV of the end customer, the person using the platform from the front-end, and hence our product is called CxCommerce—customer experience focused commerce. That is the theme we live and breathe across every aspect of our organization,” ChandraSekar adds.
CxCommerce is a global B2B and B2C e-commerce cloud platform featuring comprehensive customer experience management capabilities to deliver digital commerce outcomes for manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and retail organizations.
Nurturing Digital Transformation from Ground Zero
PhaseZero’s customers come from the automotive, industrial, high-tech consumer packaged goods, aerospace, and manufacturing sectors. These players go to market through multiple channels: they may go directly to the consumer or through a distribution channel that consists of distributors, retailers, or resellers.
However, most of these companies are far away from being able deliver a consumer-like experience demanded by their customers. This is where PhaseZero's robust solution, CxCommerce, comes to play. The solution helps manufacturers manage the customer experience with other stakeholders in the chain, whether it's distributors, OEMs or product aggregators. The solution also helps the distributors choose how they want to manage their B2B customer experience with their retail outlets in the consumer world. While the solution offers innovative capabilities to manufacturers and distributors, PhaseZero has identified several other challenges that stand in the way of a company’s true realization of their digital transformation objectives.
The primary pain point for companies is delivering to meet the increasing expectations of next generation workforce. Today's customers span multiple generations, including millennials, Gen X, and Y that grew up with smartphones and search engines.
Whether you are a distributor, retailer or a manufacturer, whether you are running a B2B or B2C, we now have the ability to enable a global multi-channel marketplace powered by the PhaseZero EMACS platform
This means that as the customers’ shopping patterns change, sellers need to be able to evolve quickly to meet their digital experience needs.
Also, companies in the industrial sector are quite behind the tech curve, and they do not have the resources to adapting to newer technology platforms. As they move from the 1970s to 2019s tech, legacy burdens, and lack of budgets present major barriers.
Even though there are many companies today that sell technology, most of them offer generic, cookie-cutter e-commerce solutions. Then there are companies that sell advisory and consulting services. But no one can handhold clients from strategy to technology to outcome, the way PhaseZero does. PhaseZero achieves this by unifying strategy and technology under one roof.
Solving Up and Coming Digital Competition
PhaseZero’s digital transformation strategy begins with a current state assessment and future state target. The majority of PhaseZero’s clients are high volume manufacturers with a large number of SKUs in their catalogs as they deal with complex engineered products sold through multiple channels. These are not retail products such as apparel with variables like small, medium, or large. The SKU complexity is very high with respect to the subcategories and specs. This means that retailing needs to be much smarter, even to identify the parts customers would be looking for, how to search for it, identify it, and validate it. As this industry is also not keen on stocking up their shelves, real-time inventory, or high inventory costs also pose significant challenges.
To solve these issues, PhaseZero offers a turnkey solution—not just an e-commerce platform, but also an digital transformation strategy as a service—and then take responsibility for executing the strategy. PhaseZero doesn’t just tell its clients what to do for improving customer experience, but the company helps them in executing the strategy and operation. This is where the cloud-based software as a service model helps immensely. PhaseZero has invested heavily in integrating legacy systems with cloud-based technologies, while presenting an unified experience to customers.
PhaseZero approaches clients with a Silicon Valley startup mindset, comparing the clients’ digital transformation initiative to the lifecycle of a startup. Most of their clients are strong brand name companies, Fortune 500 companies, or the distributor or retailer to these brand name companies that expect a methodical approach to building digital commerce portfolio. Many of these companies have been in business for 100 plus years, and they operate in multiple geographies. ChandraSekar says, “While they are very good in what they do, they need a lot of help in defining what digital means for them. That is where the silicon valley startup approach comes in.” PhaseZero addresses this from the very first engagement, which is created via a “seed stage.”
Much like how a VC chooses to invest in a startup, PhaseZero helps its clients in choosing the opportunities to explore/evaluate their digital transformation portfolio. PhaseZero then narrows it down to a “launch state.” For PhaseZero, “the seed stage” means conducting conversations with stakeholders, understanding their markets and products, and identifying up to 3-4 digital opportunities for the client. At the end of that stage, PhaseZero will prioritize an initiative for a proof of vision to “launch with early adaptors.”
Creating Brand New Markets from Scratch
PhaseZero launches a pilot or a proof of vision (PoV), by identifying a small group of early adopter customers. The company will then run the PoV through an early adopter program (EAP) for 3-4 months or more, depending on the complexity and nature of the client's digital transformation. The EAP stage, at the end of 9 months, will deliver a validated business plan, portfolio, and a market, which will define its release into the real market. PhaseZero will then deploy the PhaseZero CxCommerce platform, which enables customers with their branding. Every client is offered a customized, configured, and fully solution. This means that the client receives every component of an e-commerce strategy—from customer branding to customer-specific domain names, search engine optimization, search engine marketing, customer experience Analytics, and more. As ChandraSekar puts it, “With a single multi-channel platform PhaseZero CxCommerce™ can launch your new digital business quickly with an average "Time to First Order" of six to eight weeks.”
PhaseZero looks at this as a digital business transformation, not just an e-commerce software project. "The PhaseZero approach is a digital transformation journey and digital business building operation" says ChandraSekar. This is precisely why they built an immensely scalable, high performing multi-tenant enterprise application platform (PhaseZero EMACS™ platform) that could integrate with legacy systems or internal enterprise systems.
Case of Excellence and a Path for the Future
PhaseZero has repeatedly demonstrated its capacity for problem-solving with their many clients. One of them is DANA, a world leader in highly engineered solutions that improve the efficiency, performance, and sustainability of powered vehicles and machinery. DANA wanted to deliver the best customer-focused experience for its aftermarket business and recognized the need to adopt cloud technologies to integrate multiple catalogs, inventory, and order systems to provide a modern customer experience. PhaseZero’s CX Commerce platform helped accelerate Dana’s digital transformation journey, resulting in increased digital sales, a 2x increase in customer adoption, faster searches and transactions, and improved customer satisfaction. “In the next 12-18 months, we will help accelerate the digital transformation journey for more companies in multiple industries. Some of the distributors and retailers that conduct business with our customers are also experiencing the benefits of PhaseZero’s platform in their day to day business, and they are reaching out to us, saying that they want the same,” states ChandraSekar. “Thus creating the value for the whole industry eco-system, not just one company.”
PhaseZero’s vision is to connect the customer experience eco-system for every industry via such a network effect. PhaseZero sees growth within the industrial manufacturing, automotive, consumer packaged goods, and the food and beverages sectors.