Mamoun Benkirane, CEO and Co-founder at MarketLeap joined us in this conversation to talk about the state of eCommerce and what inspired the launch of MarketLeap:
Welcome to this SalesTechStar chat Mamoun, tell us about yourself and more about your journey in the B2B tech market. What inspired MarketLeap? Take us through its core features…
Thank you for your interest in learning more about our journey at MarketLeap.
Prior to co-founding MarketLeap, I led multi-billion-dollar Amazon expansion projects in Europe, entering countries like Turkey, Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, and Belgium. I also worked at Jumia, a Rocket Internet company that’s now publicly traded (NYSE: JMIA). There, I led the growth of e-commerce and on-demand services across Africa as Chief Marketing Officer. My interest in e-commerce started during my time as a consultant at Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company), where I collaborated with executives from leading companies and hedge funds in the retail tech space.
The inspiration behind MarketLeap began during my time at Amazon. I realized that even e-commerce giants like Amazon don’t provide enough support for brands seeking to scale and expand their businesses. Despite my efforts to conduct webinars in support of Amazon sellers’ growth, many of them encountered challenges in effectively utilizing Amazon’s features. They didn’t have the time or expertise to deal with marketplace complexities and issues, not to mention the various unpredictable issues that could arise when selling on Amazon, even when seeking assistance from Amazon’s seller support. The problem was clear: brands were capturing only a tiny fraction of their potential value in the online marketplace due to a lack of time, expertise, and capital.
At MarketLeap, our goal is to become the go-to solution for brand owners looking to expand in online marketplaces, similar to Shopify’s success in direct-to-consumer e-commerce space. We want to break down e-commerce barriers, much like Amazon did in the retail industry.
Our mission is to build the first e-commerce operating system, seamlessly connecting brands with marketplaces, worldwide, through automation and AI. Some of our core features include:
- Identifying growth levers and profitability: We help brands discover what drives their growth and profitability.
- Ensuring positive cash flow: We provide an improved disbursement model for brands that enables positive cash flow without the need to hold reserves. Additionally, we offer financing options through our service providers.
- Listing issue detection and optimization: We find and fix listing issues, improving product search rankings and conversion rates.
- Competitor analysis: We provide insights into competitors’ strategies so brands can stay ahead.
- New product insights: We offer valuable insights for launching new products.
- Dynamic pricing and marketing: We use automation and AI for competitive pricing and increased sales.
- Marketplace expansion: We expand our brands globally into new countries and marketplaces.
What is your current observation on the current state of eCommerce and what near-term thoughts do you have on the future of it?
The eCommerce industry is experiencing significant growth and transformation. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift towards online shopping. More consumers turned to eCommerce for their everyday needs, which prompted many businesses to enhance their online presence. E-commerce marketplaces remain the largest and fastest-growing retail channel globally, accounting for more than half of today’s global e-commerce sales transactions.
There is a rapid proliferation of marketplaces, most of them only launched during the last decade. It’s worth mentioning that third-party sellers now constitute more than 60% of Amazon’s sales, a substantial increase from 35% in 2010. This reflects a swiftly expanding seller base that heightens competition in the e-commerce space.
In my opinion, the future of e-commerce will be defined by three key elements:
- AI and automation: The use of artificial intelligence for catalog optimization, pricing, inventory management, marketing, and new product development will become essential for brands aiming to thrive in the highly competitive landscape of e-commerce. Only brands equipped with AI capabilities will likely emerge as leaders.
- Global expansion: An increasing number of businesses will seek to expand into international markets, driven by the potential for growth and access to new customer bases.
- The rise of digitally native brands: These brands will continue to gain market share in the total e-commerce business, currently growing 3x faster.
With the growth of online marketplaces today, what do you feel brands need to focus on to build differentiated buying journeys and experiences? Can you talk about some key brands that have done this well so far?
Brands must prioritize several key factors to develop distinctive buying journeys and experiences. Customer obsession is at the forefront, where tailoring product recommendations, content, and marketing to individual preferences can significantly enhance the customer experience. Additionally, an omnichannel approach is crucial, ensuring a seamless and consistent experience across various channels including online marketplaces, direct-to-consumer (D2C), mobile apps, and physical stores. Finally, a seamless delivery experience, efficient returns processes, and exceptional customer service are essential for building trust and fostering customer loyalty.
Some exemplary brands include: Apple, Philips, Sony, Nike, Nest, Lululemon, On Running.
Can you discuss a little about the impact of AI in this segment and how it will impact the future of online business?
Today, AI plays a central role in personalization, customer support, user engagement, pricing and inventory management. It also plays a crucial role in fraud detection and security, effectively safeguarding online businesses and their customers against various threats.
In the future, AI will keep evolving and becoming even more crucial for online businesses. It will improve customer experiences, streamline operations, and boost e-commerce competitiveness. AI’s data analysis and learning capabilities will drive innovation, helping companies stay ahead of market changes and customer preferences. As AI advances, it will make online businesses more efficient and customer-focused
Can you give us five fundamentals you’d like to tell every business owner of a digital / eCommerce business before we wrap up?
Here are five fundamental pieces of advice I’d like to share with every business owner of a digital/eCommerce business:
- Customer-centricity is key: Be obsessed with your customers, and place them at the center of your business strategy. Understand their needs, preferences, and pain points. Provide exceptional customer service and strive for customer satisfaction. Happy customers are more likely to become repeat buyers and advocates for your brand.
- Data-driven decision-making: leverage data analytics to gain valuable insights on your customers, product performance, and inventory management.
- Expand your reach: Don’t limit yourself to a single channel. Establish an online presence on both local and international online marketplaces to reach a broader audience. This will help you gain market share and outperform some of your competitors.
- Leverage automation and AI: Utilize automation and AI to manage some of your core functions such as pricing, marketing, and inventory management to remain competitive in today’s highly competitive market.
- Stay agile: The e-commerce landscape is dynamic, with evolving technologies and changing market dynamics. Be prepared to adapt quickly to new trends, emerging technologies, and shifting consumer behavior.
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