Meaningful choice of a “box” solution
Below is a quote from a correspondence that took place in the early fall of 2023: “About the marketplace, I want to say that you were right. If a person has decided to start a “box”, then this idea cannot simply be blown out of his head. As a result, the guys rolled out a marketplace for him, which does not work.” Let’s explain what they mean: the customer was deployed a ready-made marketplace out of the box, but it had no effect on sales.
And now the story first and the conclusions about it. There were so many such stories that it was not even funny. The general scenario looks something like this:
The company successfully trades in B2B.
Decides that in B2C it is also necessary to trade.
He sees that their products are sold on large marketplaces, where the commission is quite large and there are certain rules that must be followed when working on the marketplace.
Understands that they can also deploy their system and trade in B2C, that is, make direct sales to buyers of their products.
To do this, he buys a boxed solution, that is, a ready-made marketplace and deploys it on his resources, where he fully controls all the logic of work and conditions.
The result is a negative result in the form of spending money and time with zero sales in B2C.
The first approach to the task from the perspective of the Hypothesis Map looks like this:
In this map, the customer has the goal of entering the B2C market. There is an invented solution – to buy a system for the deployment of the marketplace. But in the “gray” zone remains the answer to the question: how should the task affect the goal? In other words, there is no formulated hypothesis. It turns out that business acts randomly, without a plan.
If the business draws this map, then there will be a chance to highlight that there are no ideas and that the purchase of a boxed solution by itself may not affect the goal in any way. As a result, it is possible to highlight the risks associated with the implementation of the task, for which there is no hypothesis.
In a situation like this, there may be different spheres of activity and directions of transitions, but the essence is always the same: the “box” will solve our task, we just need to buy it, everything is already there.
And now attention! A boxed solution can automate an existing business process, but cannot create that process and a business model that will generate money. In other words again: a boxed solution fixes what you have, not creates a new one. There is even a well-known rule: if you have chaos in your processes, after automation, the best you will get is 1 automated chaos.
If you decide to go from B2B to B2C, then you need to first create and check the economic efficiency of all the processes that are related to attracting traffic to the site, logistics, the work of filling and updating product cards, and so on in a very long list. For these processes, it is necessary to hire the right people, to establish their joint work. After that, when you have everything ready and you have actually seen that the business can be profitable, only then can you fix the processes by buying a box solution or creating an IT product for yourself.
Buying a boxed solution to creating business processes that bring in money is like buying a car, but not getting the license. As a result of such a purchase, the money will be spent, the car will be parked at the entrance, but you will not be able to go anywhere, because you do not even know how it works, and you do not have the necessary skills to manage the city. After the disappointment of spending money on a “useless car”, you will be surprised to learn that it turns out that you need to invest time and money in six months of training for the license, then pass the test, and only then drive the car.
This example appeals to you as customers or people who influence customers. Its purpose is to convey the opinion that the customer must first “get the rights”, that is, form a Hypothesis Map, check the main ways to achieve the goal, calculate the economy, build processes, and only then invest in “buying a car”.
Why does this error happen every time, although everyone seems to understand the problem? Methodologically, the miscalculation is that customers try to apply the tools of a simple domain according to the Kenevin model to a complicated domain:
Simple: everything is obvious, we take and do. Complex: approximately clear, expertise is required, we analyze, choose and act. Confused: it is not clear what will work, you have to come up with hypotheses and test them in practice.
In other words, entering the B2C market may seem like a simple task with a ready-made solution. And if it is, then it is enough to apply it to the problem, and it will be solved. For example, if you cut your finger, put a plaster on it.
In the case of transition from B2B to B2C, the task is definitely not in the area of a simple domain. It is confusing, with unclear approaches to the solution. When you don’t know anything about the B2C market, you need to strategize first – for example, with a Hypothesis Map. Next, see the opportunities you have for entering this market. Understand what minimum actions are necessary to confirm your hypotheses. And only then invest money and act.
Consider an example of how this story would unfold if we applied the Hypothesis Map. In this example, we will not invent and detail the goal – let’s assume that we have it and have described it.
To begin with, you need to understand why customers will come to our marketplace and want to buy from us, because similar products are available on popular platforms. In addition, popular marketplaces have a lot of traffic. So what are we going to offer on B2C? Perhaps we, as the main suppliers of these goods to the country, have an advantage of scale, due to which we can offer a more attractive price. Let’s write it down as hypotheses:
After this approach, we have two tasks that have an idea. We decided to monitor prices and give tasks to marketers for a reason. We have a hypothesis of how we can use our advantage to achieve a goal. At the same time, both tasks are for the organization of business processes. To solve them, we will not need to buy a “box”, but a lot needs to be done to create a business in a new direction.
It is worth waiting and not immediately deleting the task of buying a boxed solution. It is not yet attached anywhere, but it is desirable to keep all thoughts on the board. It often happens that during the creation of a map, these “hanging” thoughts are integrated into the overall picture and attached to one of the branches.
We continue to think further. What else do we have that can attract buyers?
At this stage, subjects are described as precisely as possible in an abstract example. In fact, you should describe the subjects in more detail, that is, with many parameters.
For example, it may turn out that we have an excellent network of warehouses throughout the country and well-established logistics between warehouses, on the first and last mile. Let’s write this advantage as a hypothesis:
All tasks and all possible hypotheses are deliberately not listed here, so as not to clutter the map. The goal now is to show the workflow through the Hypothesis Map. For this task, you can also add hypotheses about product warranty, ease of product returns, forecasting product purchases, getting traffic through our B2B clients, and much more.
Please note that we do not rush to generate tasks, but first try to understand how and whom we will influence in order to reach our goal.
At the same time, we note that the task of purchasing a boxed solution continues to “hang”, because no hypothesis has yet been found for it. For making a card, it is normal that the elements can “fly in the air” for a while. Perhaps they will never join any chain, then we simply will not take these elements into work.
A situation is possible when we will reach the point where it will be necessary to buy a “box”. For example, if hypotheses appear that cannot be tested without creating an electronic channel from our side, that is, we will need our own marketplace for tests.
This, of course, does not mean that it is necessary to buy a boxed solution. But the state of technical maturity of competitors in the market may be such that you will not have the opportunity to start at a lower technological level of the channel.
In other words, you may end up buying a boxed solution to get started with something. But the sequence of thought development is important here. If we go through hypotheses, then the movement of thought looks like this:
Let’s come up with ideas and describe hypotheses.
Let’s see on the Hypothesis Map that we need a “box”.
We will buy and implement a “box” on which you can quickly and cheaply test hypotheses.
If we proceed directly from decisions, as described at the beginning of this section, the path looks like this:
We need a “box” because it has a ready-made marketplace.
We will buy and implement the “box”.
(no sales) …we are trying to “tighten up” the decision and are waiting for a sale, but we still do not know at what expense they will take place.
The first option is a conscious choice with a clear idea. The second is waiting for a miracle.
Don’t buy into the attractive offers of sellers of boxed solutions ahead of time. Their goal is to shout the loudest that their vacuum cleaners suck harder than their competitors. You should first deal with your business model, and only then choose a solution.