COLLABORATIVE EXPORTING ? WHAT’S STILL TO ACHIEVE @LaFabriqueDeL’Exportation
This is a translation of a French article (Explorer le potentiel de l’économie collaborative) by La Fabrique de l’Exportation
We are witnessing the rise of the collaborative economy, a new production system where economic actors, which are intelligently connected through trusted platforms, cooperate to increase efficiency and reduce costs of production. There have been multiple applications: car pooling, apartment rental for holidays, housekeeping services, training, software and engineering products in open source, etc.
Export activity is essentially collaborative. Each exporter must be fully integrated into an ecosystem to optimize sales, including: distribution, transportation, financing, foreign business and commercial insights as well as recovery of all related economic actors. Academic research also proves that the more an exporter cooperates with his distributor, the more effective his activities are. So, exporters should consider the relationship with their distributors as a way to achieve commercial objectives together (by sharing resources, capacities and information). A talented exporter is one who knows how to build business relationships (and contracts) that generate trust, facilitate and stimulate cooperation.
Some platforms are starting to facilitate the collaborative economy. For example, the Mocity app helps you find other exporters or Prestashare to find companion companies. Beside those online communities, there are also “collaborative export” operations initiated by Medef, OSCI and ADEPTA, which aims to help exporters join forces in the conquest of international markets by pooling commercial information, marketing/commercial actions to build more comprehensive offers to international customers or traders.
A platform for crowd-exporting is to be invented. Imagine that you want to distribute your cosmetics in Australia. You do not know this market but the platform (let’s call it TheHub) will help you create a skillful team and a trusting relationship with them. Via TheHub, you can interview Pierre, a former L’Oréal Australia Director, who explains the Australia market to you and gives you advice on marketing strategy. Then you recruit Eamon, a freelance designer who will generate an ad hoc packaging and your “Australia special” samples on his 3D printer. You will also find John, a former Beiersdorf Australia salesman who wants to be your local account manager. Smart contracts can be signed among you, your selected personnel and your distributors. These electronic contracts, deposited on the block chain, collect the money from your sales and automatically redistribute a percentage to Pierre, Eamon and John. The whole process is guaranteed by TheHub.
The day when an on-cloud platform is able to create trust between economic actors, the possibility for international development will be unlimited. Remember the struggle of renting a holiday apartment before AirBnB or hitchhiking before Blablacar. A tool for exporting at zero level of organization is waiting for you to create!
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Inspired by a desire to connect people, Roger Wu, cofounder of Cooperatize, created a powerful platform where brands and agencies get in contact with influential bloggers to write about touristic destinations. Check out his exclusive interview to Beeleev.
Roger Wu started his entrepreneurial journey by creating Klickable TV, an interactive application to interact with ads and programs watched on TV. In 2013, he founded Cooperatize.
Cooperatize is a B2B (business to business) platform that connects thousands of micro-influencers and content creators to brands wishing to tell stories. Through articles and stories written by influencers, brands craft their message to drive word-of-mouth awareness.
In 2013 Roger had an office at WeWork. Asking companies around him how they got people to learn about their business, the usual answer included Facebook, Google ads and “reaching out to bloggers”. As connecting to bloggers proved specially problematical, he started to look for a better way to do it
“That was the first seed of what got us thinking about creating a better way to connect. Today, we’ve fallen into the travel space and connect tourism boards and travel brands with travel writers, bloggers, and influencers. The interesting thing about travel is that we are talking about specific places, not competitive products.”
Another reason for Cooperatize creation was his desire to bring people together. “I love connecting people. But how to turn that into a business? The personal and friendly way I introduce companies to bloggers help them to see each other in a positive manner”
Around a decade ago, a story about New York published in the USA Today, for instance, could create a trend of families adopting this travel destiny. Today a conventional newspaper achieves a small audience fraction. “We’re so spoiled with personalization that a generic story doesn’t mean anything”, says Wu. Cooperatize comes in to connect one brand with a multitude of bloggers able to tell unique versions of their own experience.
A little help from AI
Cooperatize uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to connect brands with writers efficiently. The process follows this order:
- Picking & choosing: Having an affinity for the destination is the most important criteria for choosing a blogger. Once all the bloggers apply for a job, the brand selects the most appropriate profiles.
- Data analysis: Data and statistics for each blogger are visible on the platform, such as the number of followers and level of engagement.
- Identification process: “A surprising number of people don’t realize this because they see a person and assume their following look the same. This is where our identification process comes in.”
- Content creation & scores: The content goes through an AI platform that reads and comes up with a sentiment analysis, engagement and quality scores, in addition to the reputation of the blogger.
Once the content is approved, each story gains a tracking code. With that, bloggers know how many views are needed to reach their goals. “It’s great if they can achieve their aim with only one tweet, but it is more likely they are going to publish on Twitter and Facebook a bunch of times, add the topic in newsletters etc. “Let’s say that a story is not getting engagement, but an article about museums gets many clicks. Then, it’s possible to understand what drives engagement.” This kind of data is effective and complements the “click through rate”.
“In today’s world of infinite content, simply creating content doesn’t mean anything anymore. You need to be constantly pushing your story out or people won’t see it.”
On average it takes 120 days after reading an article for a person book a trip, according to Wu. Because of that, after the content is created and the tracking code is put in place, Cooperatize uses retargeting. They retarget the audience through cookies, displaying ads on banners or social media. “Even though most people exhibit banner blindness, you notice when you get retargeted.”
Finally, a conversion company analyses conversions and trace them back to the original story. “Before, destinations would run a bunch of different ads that would result in an increase in bookings of hotels or flights, but would not identify the exactly reason for the trend. Now we can say we know the exact story driving the movement.”
Founded in New York, Cooperatize has customers on every continent except for Africa and Australia. “There are cultural norms, the challenge of dealing with currency exchanges, but it has been very interesting. During Web 1.0 there was a German eBay and Japan eBay. Now there is just Pinterest.com or SnapChat.com. Sites launch globally instead of being localized.”
Tips for Entrepreneurs
No matter what language you speak, where you live or what religion you practice, everybody has similar motivations, hopes and dreams. We need to get people to their destination and to do that by telling the place’s history. Everyone understands the power of a story and it’s the same across the board. What is special about the travel sector is that every product or destination has a different story.
Everyone understands the power of a story and it’s the same across the board. What’s cool about the travel space is that every single product, or destination, has a different story.”
A second advice is to stay humble. Admitting you’re not familiar with something and asking for help will take you much further. Many entrepreneurs see this as a weakness. Asking for help is hard, but you need to be humble and not afraid of ask when necessary.