Making Life Easier for SMEs in France Through a Mobile App

Explora by EDHEC project

1. Introduction

La Poste joined the private sector five years ago. Currently, the La Poste Group employs about 260,000 people through their various branches, one of which is SOGEC, a marketing company that processes all the coupon flyers you receive in your mail box. Their partnership allows for fast and easy delivery. As the digital revolution forces companies to be involved in the smartphone market SOGEC decided to develop Quoty — short for “quotidien”, which means daily in French. The goal is to assist shoppers in the entire shopping process: shopping lists, looking up products, searching for discounts, comparing prices, digital folders, sampling and research recipes. It’s an omnichannel platform that includes an app and website. Quoty not only allows brands to learn more about their customers but also allows them to be able to differentiate between shoppers and consumers thanks to smart data collected by the app.

2. Purpose

But what now? The goal of Quoty is to assist all shoppers during the shopping process, not just for FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods). In France, 99% of Companies are SMEs, which happen to also be leaders in job creation, and contributed close to 40% of value-added to the economy in 2013. The French SMEs market survived the 2008 economic crisis but this doesn’t mean that they aren’t still facing challenges. For our Explora project we chose to expand Quoty to the B2B sector by creating a go-to tool for SMEs and startups to purchase discounted goods and services through an app: Quoty For You/Quoty For Pro.

Quoty upholds three values: Inspirate, Engage, Facilitate, which we took into account while creating our five objectives:

  • The omnichannel platform will make it easy to find new service providers, discounted goods and employee benefits.
  • The app not only saves SME employees money, but also time by integrating all their needs in one place.
  • The app will create fairer distribution at all points of the value chain, which is currently stacked in favour of wholesalers who make a big margin.
  • The app will contribute to the shared economy by creating a network through which B2B sartups can launch their products or services, increase their visibility and crowdsource ideas for innovation.
  • The app fits well into Quoty’s current business model which relies on revenues from commissions and the sale of media space.

Our audience is two-fold: our end-users and clients. The end-users are split between regular employees of SMEs who would use Quoty For You and employees who have purchasing power in their company who would also use Quoty For Pro. The former want discounts and fringe benefits and the latter are looking for ways to save time, money, and foster a sense of belonging among their employees. Clients on the other hand are interested in increasing their visibility, customer-base, and customer knowledge. Quoty will boost their consumer loyalty and implement requirements (minimum number of people, limited timeframe) to guarantee that they will reach their target sales.

SMEs are a crucial part of the French economy and there are currently no other companies that combine all our features in one place for businesses. Discount wholesalers such as Metro offer discounted goods and some raw materials but they can’t provide smart data to clients and aren’t involved in the shared economy. Digital work councils (Comités d’Entreprises en ligne) such as Kalidea offer cultural and leisure ticketing as well as discounted purchases to CE and employees but they don’t include training or other services that SMEs need to operate. Discount providers such as Groupon, TF1 Conso and Plyce have a strong consumer base but they don’t cater specifically to businesses.

3. Project description

3. a) User persona

Quoty For You
Meet Jean Roquefort. Jean is 34, married with one child. He works for a small company of only 15 employees as the Purchasing Manager, and he enjoys good wine, good food, sports and some cultural events (usually when his wife is around). It’s the weekend and he is out with his family in a French provincial town to discover the artisanal crafts of the country side, thanks to some tickets that his wife obtained through the Work Council of the multinational she works for. Jean Roquefort usually looks for deals on Groupon, TF1 Conso, Ma-réduc.com, but it takes up a lot of his time and he begins to wonder if he should not simply leave his small company to join a larger one in order to get the same great benefits. Quoty For You will enable him to get the same deals while staying at his job. Positive testimonials from current users of the app, as well as our “refer a friend” program, will convince him to download the app in no time.

Quoty For Pro
While out on the weekend, Jean ran into Paul, a colleague of his wife’s who works in the Purchasing Department of their big multinational. They talked and shared best practices, and Jean was amazed at the kind of deals Paul gets on his indirect expenses, as he usually makes huge bulk purchases of stationery and office furniture for the whole head office in Paris. Compared to him, Jean is always struggling to meet his budget and wastes time negotiating over the tiny orders he makes for his office of 15. Quoty For Pro has been designed to solve this problem by helping him find deals on his office purchases in no time at all.

3. b) Value proposition
3. c) User acquisition

In order for Quoty For You to be attractive to brands, it must have a great number of users. Our user acquisition plan will focus on methods such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), social, advertising and emailing — the goal being to engage with the users in order to retain them for as long as possible. A key competitive advantage will also be to leverage the La Poste Group and its 13 brands capabilities (in non-digital areas as well).

i. SEO and ASO (app store optimization)
1st step = optimizing the content
- Inserting a link and QR code taking people straight to the app store from the Quoty website
- Building a landing page specifically for Quoty For You and For Pro (www.quoty.fr/foryou, www.quoty.fr/forpro)
- The description on the app stores will include as many relevant keywords as possible, clear pictures, a video, and links to Quoty For You social media pages. Keywords will be found by browsing forums and using a keyword finding service. For Quoty For You, they will include: “reductions”, “promotions”, “bon plan”, “coupon”.

2nd step = using internal and external links
- Internal links will link to content within the Quoty website or blog, and external links will link to relevant, trustworthy outside content (e.g. an article about the brands issuing coupons most often).

ii. Social
1st step = identifying our followers
- Look on “good deals” forums where users exchange tips (e.g. www.clubpromos.fr/forum), social media groups (mainly Twitter and Facebook which engage more men than Pinterest and Instagram).

2nd step = identifying our influencers
- Use Followerwonk to find Twitter influencers (e.g. Takabox, Mes Bons Plans…), and engage with them to reach their audience.

iii. Advertising
1st step = implement retargeting
- Retargeting can be used with Display advertising to convert “dormant users” (have downloaded but never taken an action on the app) into active users. They will receive Quoty For You banners on websites they visit frequently (e.g. weather forecasts, news…). Retargeting needs to be implemented from the beginning as it is complementary to other types of ads.

2nd step = implement Google Text and Facebook ads
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Bid on keywords such as “bons plans”, “réductions”, “promotions”, “coupons”. Text advertising is useful when the user is in a buying intent (ready to take action), so it should be a quicker way of acquiring users than display advertising.
- Facebook allows for very specific segmentation in terms of location, interests, relationship status, age and profession. We will therefore be using it to increase our visibility within our target audience.

3rd step = investigate affiliation
- to implement affiliation, partnerships need to be set up with influencers (bloggers, social media users) who will advertise our app, in return for a commission on each user that they help to convert. In our case, Quoty For You only acts as an intermediary between brands and users, and is not likely to play a role in negotiating commissions. We could however investigate the matter further, and implement “free affiliation” in the meantime, based on an exchange of visibility rather than commissions.

iv. Emailing

Emails deliver 22% of excellent ROI (as compared to display advertising which delivers 5% of excellent ROI and 39% of average ROI) and are therefore a cost-effective way of engaging with users.

Notification emails — “Refer a friend” a friend programme
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Personalised notification emails, which pop up after a specific action by the user, create more value for the user than generic marketing and transactional emails. Finding the right balance in the number of notification emails, as well as effective wording, will be key to avoid flooding the user.
- Among others, we want to implement the “Refer a friend” programme through notification emails. Once the user has signed in, they will be able to participate in this programme which gives them access to 5 exclusive deals each time they refer a friend.

Please click here for more examples of notification emails we will be putting in place.

v. La Poste Group capabilities and network

Through its 13 brands, the group has access to all companies and all consumers in France, and we are planning to use their digital and non-digital capabilities to acquire users.

Digital means: emailing and social media
- We will be using the group’s database of companies to send cold emails to as many SME Purchasing Managers as possible, and introduce them to Quoty For Pro.
- The group has 13.4K followers on Twitter and 150K on Facebook. These are huge communities that we can leverage to spread awareness of Quoty For You.

Non-digital means:
- Sogec has strong capabilities and experience in the use of printed flyers and other brochures which we can leverage.
- The La Poste group has access to all consumers in France thanks to its network of mail men and women, which we can also leverage.

4. Goals and objectives

We want the app to be both company and employee-oriented.

Quoty For Pro

Goal: We want Quoty For Pro to become the reliable and easy-to-use tool for SME Purchasing Managers’ indirect expenses such as office equipment, hardware, software, furniture or business services. In terms of user experience, Quoty For Pro will be a “subset” of Quoty For You.

Target Objectives: In order to achieve this goal, offers posted by partners must clearly describe the product or service, its state (new or second-hand), the value of the discount and delivery conditions (pick it up yourself or delivery included), and the timeframe of the offer. The app will have to provide the following features :
- Only the Purchasing Manager can create and access the account using their professional company identification number (“SIRET” number)
- They will access this account from the Quoty For You homepage, using a password which protects their account and restricts it to their personal use
- The Purchasing Manager will access personalized deals by filling in information such as the sector of activity and age of the company.

Quoty For You

Goal: Through Quoty For You, employees should be able to look for deals on services and products they are interested in, mobilize their colleagues in order to gather enough people to reach a certain threshold, and thus obtain a discount on their favorite products or services. The company will need to have registered an account on Quoty For Pro to be able to give its employees access to Quoty For You.

Target Objectives: In order to achieve this goal, offers posted by partners must clearly describe the discount, state the minimum number of people required to obtain it, whether there is a “capping” (maximum) number of people allowed, and the timeframe. The app will have to provide the following features:
- Employees will have to be identified uniquely and join their company account which has previously been created on Quoty For Pro.
- The app will have to propose offers to the employees according to their preferences
- Employees will be able to show interest on certain offers, and they will be informed as the offer reaches the threshold number of people required to obtain the deal, or as it nears its closing date.

5. Methodology and timeline

5. a) Methodology

- To elaborate an acquisition plan, we are using growth hacking tools such as: followerwonk, similarweb, keyword generators to analyse the market and make sure our app is visible to the people we care about.
- To fine-tune our user persona and find out how best to design the app in terms of layout and content, we have sent out surveys which will help us understand what our users want.
-We are also using competitor benchmarking, market research and value chain analysis to benefit from best practice and make sure we are not missing or ignoring any key issues.

5. b) Timeline of deliverables

6. Benefits/Ancitipated outcomes

Quoty For You
Employees will benefit from special deals, previously reserved to big companies. Thanks to the collaborative approach Quoty For You will be based on (similar to a social network), an enterprise spirit is likely to be created and grow quickly. Furthermore, the app will be useful for recruiting as it makes the company more attractive.

Quoty For Pro

The company-oriented part of the app will allow sellers (Brands) and buyers (SMEs) to build a closer relationship. It is likely to lead to cost and time savings on both sides and reduce the power of wholesalers, thus integrating the value chain. Through Quoty For Pro, La Poste will act as a facilitator between different stakeholders, thus leveraging a capacity which is already in its DNA.

Quoty business model

The existing Quoty has two different revenue streams:
1. Sogec takes a commission on every transaction taking place thanks to the app
2. Sogec uses the app as a media and thus sells advertising space to its client brands

Our app will support these two aspects of the business model by creating a virtuous circle: becoming the digital work council (Quoty For You) for all SMEs and lowering indirect expenses (Quoty For Pro) will increase the volume of transactions supported by the app, thus increasing the number of commissions received by Sogec. Furthermore, attracting more and more users through high quality offers will push the brands to buy advertising space, thus creating a second source of revenue for Sogec.

Finally, the app will bring value to the shared economy as a whole by creating a way for small B2B startups to reach clients and increase their visibility in a cost-effective manner.

7. Support needed

Throughout this project, our team will require support from the Sogec team, in order to develop the best app possible, but within the limits of Sogec’s experience and capabilities. We will also be needing technical assistance with the development of a prototype through Sogec’s current partner.

8. Team roles and contacts