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December 15, 2018
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Changing consumer behavior is the key to unlocking billion dollar businesses

in Airbnb/Amazon/Business/business models/Delhi/driver/e-commerce/Economy/Facebook/Getty-Images/India/Lyft/market/MySpace/online advertising/online shopping/Politics/sharing economy/social media/social networks/TC/transport/Uber by

In the summer of 2012, I had just learned of a new service where a driver would pick you up in their own car, not a taxi or licensed town car. You’d be able to recognize the car by the pink mustache strapped to the front. I quickly downloaded the new app called Lyft and, intrigued, started to share it with others around the Airbnb offices.

Almost everyone gave me a same response: “I would never use it.” I asked why. “Well, I wouldn’t feel comfortable getting into someone else’s car.” I said, “Wait a minute, you are comfortable allowing others into your home and staying in others’ homes while you travel, but you don’t want to get into someone else’s car?” The reply was always a version of “Yeah, I guess that’s it—a car is different than a home.”

I was dumbfounded. Here was a collection of adventurous individuals — who spent their days at Airbnb expanding the boundaries of what it means to trust another person — but they were stuck on the subtle behavior change of riding shotgun with a stranger. I then had another quick reaction: this product was going to be huge.

Behavior Shifts in Consumer Internet

Truly transformative consumer products require a behavior shift. Think back to the early days of the internet. Plenty of people said they would never put their credit card credentials online. But they did, and that behavior shift allowed e-commerce to flourish, creating the likes of Amazon. Fast forward to the era when Myspace, Facebook, and other social networks were starting out. Again, individuals would commonly say that they would never put their real names or photos of themselves online. It required only one to two years before the shift took hold and the majority of the population created social media profiles. The next wave included sharing-economy companies like Airbnb, Lyft, and Uber, prompting individuals to proclaim that they would never stay in someone else’s home or get into their car. In short order, times changed and those behaviors are now so commonplace, these companies are transforming how people travel and move about the world.

The behavior shifts were a change in socially accepted norms and previously learned behavior. They alone don’t create stratospheric outcomes, but they do signal that there could be something special at play.

Build an Enhanced Experience

Still, just because a product creates a behavior shift does not mean that it will be successful. Often, though a handful of loyal users may love them, there is ultimately no true advantage to these products or services.

One prime example comes to mind, the product Blippy. In late 2009, the team built a product to livestream a user’s credit card transactions. It would show the purchase details to the public, pretty much anyone on the internet, unlocking a new data stream. It was super interesting and definitely behavior shifting. This was another case where many people were thinking, “Wow, I would never do that,” even as others were happily publishing their credit card data. Ultimately there was little consumer value created, which led Blippy to fold. The founders have since gone on to continually build interesting startups.

In successful behavior-shifting products, the shift leads to a better product, unlocking new types of online interactions and sometimes offline activities in the real world. For instance, at Airbnb the behavior shift of staying in someone else’s home created a completely new experience that was 1) cheaper, 2) more authentic, and 3) unique. Hotels could not compete, because their cost structure was different, their rooms were homogenized, and the hotel experience was commonplace. The behavior shift enabled a new product experience. You can easily flip this statement, too: a better experience enabled the behavior shift. Overall, the benefits of the new product were far greater than the discomfort of adopting new behavior.

Revolutionary products succeed when they deliver demonstrable value to their users. The fact that a product creates a behavior shift is clearly not enough. It must create enormous value to overcome the initial skepticism. When users get over this hurdle, though, they will be extremely bought in, commonly becoming evangelists for the product.

Unlock Greenfield Opportunity

One key benefit of a behavior-shifting product is that it commonly creates a new market where there is no viable competition. Even in cases where several innovative players crop up at the same time, they’re vying for market share in a far more favorable environment, not trying to unseat entrenched corporations. The opportunity then becomes enormous, as the innovators can capture the vast majority of the market.

Other times, the market itself isn’t new, but the way the product or service operates in it is. Many behavior-shifting products were created in already enormous markets, but they shifted the definition of those markets. For instance, e-commerce is an extension of the regular goods market, which is in the trillions. Social media advertising is an extension of online advertising, which is in the hundreds of billions. Companies that innovated within those markets created new greenfield but also continued to grow the existing market pie and take market share away from the incumbents. The innovators retrain the consumer to expect more, forcing the incumbents to respond to a new paradigm.

(Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Shape the Future

A behavior shift also allows the innovator to shape the future by creating a new product experience and pricing structure.

When it comes to product experience, there are no prior mental constructs. This is a huge advantage to product development, as it allows teams to be as creative as possible. For instance, the addition of ratings in Uber’s and Lyft’s products changed the dynamic between driver and rider. Taxi drivers and passengers could be extremely rude to each other. Reviews have altered that experience and made rudeness an edge case, as there are ramifications to behaving badly. Taxis can’t compete with this seemingly small innovation because there is no mechanism to do so. They can’t enhance quality of interaction without taking the more manual approach of driver education.

Another benefit to the innovator is that they can completely change the economics of the transaction, shaping the future of the market. Amazon dictated a new shopping experience with online purchasing, avoiding the costs of a brick-and-mortar location. They could undercut pricing across the board, focusing on scale instead of margin per product. This shifted the business model of the market, forcing others to respond to follow suit. In many cases, that shift ultimately eroded the competition’s existing economic structure, making it extremely challenging for them to participate in the new model.

Expect Unintended Consequences

It can be difficult to imagine at the outset, but if your product is encouraging massive behavior shifts, you will undoubtedly encounter many unintended consequences along the way. It is easy to brush off a problem you did not directly and intentionally create. But as the social media companies are learning today, very few problems go away by ignoring them. It is up to you to address these challenges, even if they are an unintended byproduct.

One of the most common unintended consequences nearly all behavior-shifting companies will run into is government regulation. Regulation is created to support the world as it is today. When you introduce a behavior shift into society, you will naturally be operating outside of previously created societal frameworks. The sharing-economy companies like Airbnb and Uber are prime examples. They push the boundaries of land use regulation and employer-employee relationships and aggravate unions.

I want to emphasize that you should not ignore such matters or think that their regulation is silly. Regulation serves a purpose. Startups must work with regulators to help define new policy structures, and governments must be open to innovation. It’s a two-way street, and everyone wins when we work together.

What’s Next

My advice is to start by thinking about existing categories that represent people’s biggest or most frequent expenditures. The amount of money you spend on your home, transportation, and clothes, for example, is enormous. Is there an opportunity to grow and capture part of these markets by upending old commercial models and effecting a behavior shift?

Scooter networks are a real-time example of a behavior-shifting innovation that is just getting going. It has the same explosive opportunity of prior game-changing innovations. There are still many individuals who state that they will never commute on scooter. But applying this framework tells me that it is just a matter of time before it is more widely adopted as the technology keeps evolving and maturing.

There is no magical formula for uncovering massive, behavior-shifting products. But if you come up with an innovative idea, and everyone initially tells you that they would never use it, think a little harder to make sure they are right…

News Source = techcrunch.com

Instacart expands a pickup option for grocery orders across the US

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Online grocery delivery service Instacart has expanded the availability of a ‘click and collect’ pickup service it’s been trialing for a few months in the U.S. — now offering it in stores across the nation.

It says the collect in person Instacart Pickup option is now available in nearly 200 stores — across 25 “key markets” near Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Minneapolis, Nashville, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.

The Pickup service is intended to offer customers more flexibility by letting them choose a time to drive by and grab their groceries, rather than wait in for a delivery.

Customers are offered a range of partner stores to choose for collecting their order. While pick ups can be made on the same day.

Instacart says it’s expanded its partnerships for the now expanded Pickup service — saying it’s working with the likes of ALDI, Cub Foods, Food Lion, Price Chopper, Publix, Schnucks, Smart & Final, Sprouts, Tops Friendly Markets and Wegmans.

To access the Pickup service, customers can use Instacart’s website or mobile app, selecting their city and store. After they add groceries to their cart they get to choose either a delivery window or pickup window before they check out.

If picking up, they’ll get an in-app notification when their groceries are ready to collect.

But that’s not the end of the process; Pickup customers are supposed to send an in-app notification to their Instacart personal shopper to let them know they’re on the way.

Then, once they arrive, Instacart says one of its shoppers or a retailer employee will bring the groceries out to their car. Assuming the car has been described accurately enough in the app…

Instacart says the service is free for its Express members.

For non-members there is a cost involved — though Instacart says this is lower relative to paying for delivery (which also varies depending on factors like location/time of day etc). The Pickup cost can also vary depending on the retail partner selected.

For its main grocery delivery service, Instacart says it’s currently accessible to more than 70% of U.S. households, in all 50 states, and more than 50% of Canadian households — available in more than 15,000 different grocery stores across 4,000 cities overall.

While it has partnerships with more than 300 retailers at this point.

On the gig economy side, its service is powered by some 70,000 personal shoppers.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Sam’s Club to offer same-day grocery delivery via Instacart at over half its stores by month end

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Fresh off its $600 million round of new funding, grocery delivery service Instacart is expanding its relationship with Walmart, the companies announced this morning. The two first joined up in February to offer same-day grocery delivery at select Sam’s Clubs locations in the U.S. Today, Walmart says it plans to offer Instacart-powered grocery delivery in over half of Sam’s Clubs stores by the end of this month.

That expansion will make Sam’s Club grocery delivery via Instacart available to nearly 1,000 new ZIP codes and more than 100 new stores, including those in markets like New Jersey, Indianapolis, Houston and others, the company says.

In total, customers will be able to order from nearly 350 clubs by the end of October.

The partnership was first piloted in Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin and St. Louis, then reached San Diego and L.A. in more recent weeks.

The deal also allows consumers to shop Sam’s Clubs stores without a membership, including shopping its sales. However, Sam’s Club members will receive lower, membership-only pricing, Walmart says.

Deliveries are offered in as little as an hour, and may include non-grocery items, the retailer also notes.

“To help the holidays run smooth, we’re offering a wide product assortment available on Instacart so shoppers can now get household goods delivered,” said Sachin Padwal, Sam’s Club’s Vice President of Product Management, in a statement. “We’re excited that last-minute gifts, small appliances, extra pillows and towels – just to name a few things – are just a few clicks and minutes away,” he added.

The partnership between Sam’s Club and Instacart is significant in terms of Walmart’s larger battle with Amazon, which offers grocery pickup and delivery through its Whole Foods division, as well as grocery delivery through AmazonFresh and Prime Now.

Sam’s Club parent Walmart also offers an affordable curbside pickup program for groceries – which, unlike with third-party services, sells items at the same price as they are in stores. In select markets, Walmart offers grocery delivery, too.

In Walmart’s recent fiscal year 2020 guidance, it said that it expects to offer grocery pickup at 3,100 Walmart stores by 2020, and delivery at 1,600 locations. Currently, Walmart’s grocery delivery is on track to reach 100 U.S. metros by year-end.

Same-day delivery for Sam’s Club isn’t the only change Walmart’s warehouse membership club has made in recent months. Also in February, the club began to offer free shipping on orders, with no minimum purchase, and simplified memberships to two tiers, Savings ($45/year) and Plus ($100/year). Both of those options are cheaper than Amazon Prime, now $119/year.

Sam’s Club shoppers can visit samsclub.com/Instacart to see if their local store is supported.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Shopify opens its first brick-and-mortar space in Los Angeles

in Apple/apple store/Business/Chief Operating Officer/Delhi/e-commerce/Economy/India/Los Angeles/Marketing/online shopping/Politics/Shopify/TC/toronto/vend by

Shopify, the provider of payment and logistics management software and services for retailers, has opened its first physical storefront in Los Angeles.

The first brick and mortar location for the Toronto-based company, is nestled in a warren of downtown Los Angeles boutique shops in a complex known as the Row DTLA.

For Shopify, Los Angeles is the ideal place to debut a physical storefront showing off the company’s new line of hardware products and the array of services it provides to businesses ranging from newly opened startups to $900 million juggernauts like the Kylie Cosmetics brand.

The city is one of the most dense conglomerations of Shopify customers with over 10,000 merchants using the company’s technologies in the greater Los Angeles area. 400 of those retailers have each earned over $1 million in gross merchandise volume.

In the Los Angeles space, which looks similar to an Apple store, patrons can expect to see demonstrations and tutorials of how Shopify’s tools and features work. Showrooms displaying the work that Shopify does with some of its close partners will also show how business owners can turn their product visions into actual businesses.

Like Apple, Shopify is staffing its store with experts on the platform who can walk new customers or would-be customers through whatever troubleshooting they may need. While also serving as a space to promote large and small vendors using its payment and supply management solution.

“Our new space in downtown LA is a physical manifestation of our dedication and commitment to making commerce better for everyone. We’re thrilled to be able to take our proven educational, support, and community initiatives and put them to work in an always-on capacity,” said Satish Kanwar, VP of Product at Shopify, in a statement. “We know that making more resources available to entrepreneurs, especially early on, makes them far more likely to succeed, and we’re happy to now be offering that through a brick-and-mortar experience in LA.”

Kanwar and Shopify chief operating officer, Harley Finkelstein, envision the new Los Angeles space as another way to support new and emerging retailers looking for tips on how to build their business in the best possible way.

“The path to being your own boss doesn’t need to be lonely or isolating,” said Finkelstein, in a statement. “With Shopify LA we wanted to create a hub where business owners can find support, inspiration, and community. Most importantly, entrepreneurs at all stages and of all sizes can learn together, have first access to our newest products, and propel their entrepreneurial dreams.”

News Source = techcrunch.com

Deep-linking startup Branch is raising more than $100M at a unicorn valuation

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Branch, the deep-linking startup backed by Andy Rubin’s Playground Ventures, will enter the unicorn club with an upcoming funding round.

The four-year-old company, which helps brands create links between websites and mobile apps, has authorized the sale of $129 million in Series D shares, according to sources and confirmed by PitchBook, which tracks venture capital deals. The infusion of capital values the company at roughly $1 billion.

In an e-mail this morning, Branch CEO Alex Austin declined to comment.

The Redwood City-based startup closed a $60 million Series C led by Playground in April 2017, bringing its total equity raised to $113 million. It’s also backed by NEA, Pear Ventures, Cowboy Ventures and Madrona Ventures. Rubin, for his part, is a co-founder of Android, as well as the founder of Essential, a smartphone company that, though highly valued, has had less success.

Branch’s deep-linking platform helps brands drive app growth, conversions, user engagement and retention.

Deep links are links that take you to a specific piece of web content, rather than a website’s homepage. This, for example, is a deep link. This is not.

Deep links are used to connect web or e-mail content with apps. That way, when you’re doing some online shopping using your phone and you click on a link to an item on Jet.com, you’re taken to the Jet app installed on your phone, instead of Jet’s desktop site, which would provide a much poorer mobile experience.

Branch supports 40,000 apps with roughly 3 billion monthly users. The company counts Airbnb, Amazon, Bing, Pinterest, Reddit, Slack, Tinder and several others as customers.

Following its previous round of venture capital funding, Austin told TechCrunch that the company had seen “tremendous growth” ahead of the raise.

“[We] have been fortunate enough to become the clear market leader,” he said. “There’s so much more we can accomplish in deep linking and this money will be used to fund Branch’s continued platform growth.”

News Source = techcrunch.com

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