Recent Brand Stories
The internet is running the television ad industry out of business. A recent study showed that 84% of its respondents wanted to fast forward through ads they watch, while 60% even recorded their TV shows just so they could skip commercials. Recent Super Bowl ratings is another example of this, while it once was the ideal television event to have your ad run, studies now show that 80% of ads ran during the game actually don't increase any sales. It's because of the findings like these that many companies, like Quantified Commerce, are looking to social media platforms like Facebook to build the next generation of brands. Facebook allows companies to create ads and then market them directly to their target audience at a significantly lower price than traditional campaigns. To put things in perspective, one company with a budget of only $250, ran an ad on Facebook that reached 106,879 people that fit the description of their perfect consumer. Of that 106,879 people, nearly half of them actually engaged with the video. An astounding number, when comparing that to the engagement rates on television. "A lot of advertisers today are still looking to the television to sell their products," said Ryan Andreas, managing partner of Quantified Commerce. "They haven't yet realized how to sell through social media." A major factor in getting such high engagement on Facebook is how shareable the post is. Facebook's algorithm works by rewarding advertisers with highly shareable content, putting their posts at the top of people's news feeds. Quantified Commerce is a vertically integrated company that builds direct to consumer brands using social media. By creating attention-grabbing content in collaboration with social influencers, they have managed to grow by 100-300% in the last 4-5 years - but how should these Facebook ads look? In a word? Short. Six to 15-second video ads are starting to become the standard for Facebook. The reason for this being that as the length of a video increases so does the viewer drop-off rate. So, the main idea is to put your best content in the first 5 seconds of the video. The Huffington Post recently published an article showing the time people spent watching ads of different lengths from the same major national advertiser. With a 30-second commercial, ⅔ of the viewers dropped off by the 10-second mark. Even more surprising, the average attention span of an online user is only about eight seconds. So an advertiser's job has now become trying to stop your thumb from scrolling and get you to pay attention to their ad, long enough to understand what you're seeing. It's also crucial to abstain from making your ads heavy on sound. Nearly 85% of online views now happen with the sound off. The main reason for this being that the viewer is likely in an environment where it's not practical to have sound playing: at work, in public, etc. Although many companies are struggling to make the change into the internet-heavy advertising world, failure to do so can lead to downsizing or bankruptcy. Larger brick-and-mortar brands have been dying out in recent years as a result of this inability to adapt. But, this has led to some very startling success stories; for example, Dollar Shave Club, a digitally native razor company founded in California, saw sales skyrocket in their first few years of business. The start-up grew from nothing to making 200 million dollars in annual sales in under five years. Major companies saw this sudden success as the investment opportunity that it was and scrambled to buy the start-up. In an unheard of deal, Unilever eventually came out on top and acquired the company for an astounding 1 billion dollars. Companies are gravitating to Facebook as the new stage of digital marketing as we live in a time where people give more attention to their phones than to their television screens. Even while watching TV, they are looking at their mobile phones during commercial breaks. With the changing of the playing field though, the game is still the same. Where companies have in the past been used to television ads that run from 15-30 seconds long, now they're pressured to create even shorter ads but for a more specific audience.
It seems obvious at this point to say that a lot of aspects of our lives are changing because of the internet. Some of the things being replaced in our day-to-day life are more apparent than others, like email replacing snail mail, or websites replacing newspapers. There is one thing that the internet is changing that may seem a little less obvious, but is creeping up quickly, and that is the retail distribution of consumer goods. That change is coming and has already taken a foothold in countries like the United States, whereby 2022 more than $638 million of retail sales will take place online, but the United States is just the tip of the iceberg. India is fast becoming the next economic behemoth, and with this economic explosion, a booming e-commerce market will take place. The Indian digital economy is estimated to be a $1 trillion a year industry by 2022. That's an insanely high number, but it makes sense when you consider internet usage is skyrocketing in a country where some areas still lack running water. What makes India such a lucrative e-commerce market? And why is it in a company's best interest to pursue an e-commerce model over traditional distribution, particularly when it comes to a country like India? For one there is a huge disparity in terms of urban versus rural populations, as 70% of Indians live in rural areas. While the urban population is growing, most of the country's 1.324 billion people live outside of cities. That doesn't necessarily preclude them from internet use, however. While the number of internet penetration is at 20.26% in 2017, that number is up from 18% in 2016. Internet use in the rural areas of India is growing, and even if it stayed where it is right now that 20.26% still accounts for 184 million people. That's 184 million more people a company can reach by choosing to go with an e-commerce model over traditional distribution. Not only are you able to reach your customers in terms of having them buy your product, but you're also able to reach them in terms of advertising. By having your entire business comprised online you're able to advertise directly to the consumer and convert them all in the same breath, and if you take into account that 2017 was the first year digital ad spending beat out traditional television advertising, it seems like advertising directly to the consumer and then converting them into a customer quicker is becoming the norm. Now all of these trends so far have been global, but what about India specific advantages? "Indians love deals," says Agam Berry, co-founder of the company Quantified Commerce, which looks to build e-commerce brands in India, "using an e-commerce model we're able to offer them lower prices, while not sacrificing quality or variety." Berry's right, e-commerce companies are able to forgo the traditional costs of doing business, like checkout counters and retail employees. Those savings can be passed on to the consumer. Lower prices are important for any customer, regardless of geographic location, but Berry points out another advantage e-commerce distribution offers which are unique to the Indian market. "Most small cities in India don't have a choice in terms of the products they can find in a store, but obviously the internet makes their number of choices virtually limitless." While in countries like the United States you could walk into a store and see a ton of different brands, most small cities in India don't have the same luxury, "only a few companies monopolize the fast-moving consumer goods space, and there are not that many small boutique homegrown brands in the fast-moving consumer goods space in India," said Berry. This is something companies like Quantified Commerce are taking advantage of and bringing to the fertile digital market of India. While e-commerce has its benefits wherever you are in the world, the benefits to a country like India are clear. With companies like Quantified Commerce making inroads into the economically booming country it may only be a matter of time before traditional distribution goes the way of snail mail.
The term 'gig economy' has been thrown around a lot in the past few years, but it's no fad. The gig economy is beginning to take over how people work and what is considered a job. It's also changing the way that businesses run and more specifically how e-commerce companies run. As e-commerce grows alongside the gig economy, the two are going to share a symbiotic relationship which may allow both to succeed. If you don't know what the gig economy is, here's a quick rundown. It is mostly an economy wherein temporary and flexible jobs and contracts are commonplace, and companies lean toward hiring freelancers or independent contractors. An example of a company based in the gig economy is Uber. Uber's drivers are all freelancers who choose when and where they want to work. The benefits Uber sees from this type of business model is enormous savings regarding doing business. Uber doesn't need to hire managers to manage their drivers, because their drivers are the managers. The gig economy allows for companies to cut an enormous amount out of the cost of doing business by avoiding having to hire the same amount of employees that a standard taxi service would have to hire. Now it's one thing for Uber to freelance drivers, or for Airbnb to freelance what amounts to hotel rooms, but how can e-commerce companies take advantage of the gig economy, and what benefits would they see from incorporating temporary freelancers into their workforce? Amazon is an example of an e-commerce company that is utilizing the gig economy. In 2015, they introduced Amazon Flex. Drivers are paid anywhere from $18 to $25 an hour for delivering packages for Amazon's Prime Now delivery service, which promises one-hour delivery. This is part of Amazon's obsession with offering customers faster delivery services, which is crucial for e-commerce brands as IBM found in a recent study that claimed post-purchase and delivery experience could have a tremendous effect on customer retention. "They are more and more starting to confirm for themselves that for them to be such a big online retailer, having some capabilities of their own [for] distribution is a core competency, and not an outsource one," Satish Jindel, president of logistics advisory firm SJ Consulting Group said about Amazon. This core competency is essential, especially if Amazon wants to maintain the one-hour delivery their Prime Now delivery service promises. The quick delivery time that Prime Now promises, and Flex fulfills is vital for customer retention, and it is also cost saving. They do not need to hire a third-party service that would cost more, and most likely do a poorer job. They also do not have to bring on any full-time employees that would be necessary to build their delivery infrastructure, which saves them money. If you think that the gig economy is not global, it is, and it is going to be crucial for companies to take advantage of the gig economy especially when it comes to India. India is the largest freelancer market in the world and is set to grow even more. Companies would be keen to take advantage of this growing gig economy, and some already are. Quantified Commerce, a company focused on building e-commerce brands in India has thought about how to best leverage freelancers to make deliveries for them, "it's pretty much a win-win for everyone," Ryan Andreas, co-founder of Quantified Commerce said when asked about how his company is planning to take advantage of the booming gig economy in India. "We get faster deliveries, better customer service, and lower costs, and our freelancers will get good wages and the ability to be their own boss." That last point is one worth noting. The benefits of the gig based economy aren't one-sided. People, especially young people, prefer to be there own boss, and the gig based economy allows them to pick their hours and earn extra money or a living when they want to. It seems like the gig economy is, as Andreas says, a "win-win." As more and more people start to forgo traditional employment or make more money on the side, the gig economy grows. Companies can take advantage of these trends to further their success, especially in markets like India. And who knows? Maybe in a decade, we'll all be working for ourselves.
In the past, part of Google's management philosophy involved the incorporation of something they called "innovation time." This is free time was allocated to an employee during their regular work week. This time could be spent however the employee saw fit, even if it was out of the parameters of the employee's regular job responsibilities as long as it had something to do with Google or Google related products. This sanctioned free time birthed its fair share of innovations. Gmail, Google Maps, and Adsense are all children of the 20% innovation time that employees received. However, Google clamped down on this 20% time in 2013. Google's CEO Larry Page cited alignment as one aspect of the business that suffered under the initiative that gave employees free reign to work as they liked. Page said that Google wanted "more wood behind less arrows," meaning more focus on the company's core business. Although Google has slowed their 20% initiative down, other companies may be able to take cues from the world's leading search engine. While the 20% of the time Google allowed employees to use however they saw fit, as long as it was somewhat work-related, could have been used to further the aims of the company, it could also have been used to not do any work at all. If we're being honest, no employee spends 100% of their work time being completely efficient. Giving out breaks and allowing employees to do other things is ultimately good for business. If employers are going to choose to attempt and adapt Google's 20% model to their own business it might be better to focus that free time on education. Just as Page said, more wood, less arrows. Giving employees time to focus on things besides work is a good idea, just as long as it is focused. Education may be a good use of that focus. Research suggests that employee engagement is incredibly important to the success of a business. In a recent Dale Carnegie survey, companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%. By giving employees the skills and opportunities to grow their careers you are able to keep them engaged and working towards the common goal of a successful company. Still think employee engagement isn't important, well here's another number for you. Over $500 billion is lost every year due to disengagement. Why do companies lose so much money due to a lack of employee education? One statistic points to 40% of employees who receive poor job training leaving their positions within the first year. Turn over accounts for a lot of a company's expenses, as rehiring and retraining are often times more expensive than educating current employees and keeping them engaged with their work. By taking an interest in its employee's career development and education companies are able to receive a significant return on their investment. Now, these initiative don't only benefit employers. Employees see the obvious benefit of better education and career opportunities, and 76% of employees are looking for career growth opportunities. It seems like if you want to attract the best and brightest, you need to invest in making them better and brighter. We spoke to co-founder of Quantified Commerce, Agam Berry about how his company is focusing on education, particularly in India. "The Indian education system is not on par with world standards, there's no way around it," said Berry, "we can't find enough qualified candidates because of it, so we have to focus heavily on internal promotions and development." Quantified Commerce is using technology and dedicated employees to do just that, "we have an entire team dedicated to our learning management system, and creating content for it," Berry said, "employees spend at least an hour a day on education." The world is moving quickly. With technological advancements like AI and machine learning advancing at a blinding pace, if companies are not constantly educating their employees and retraining their workforce will be left behind. Therefore companies need to take an aggressive and progressive stance on the education of their workers. Not only does this benefit the employee, but also the company. A company's success is measured in many ways, and one of those ways is employee education. With progressive companies like Google and Quantified Commerce leading the charge it seems like employee education is becoming as essential and important as a company logo.
As the population of India continues to skyrocket, easily blowing past China as the most populated country in the entire world by 2024, Indians will increasingly need to purchase goods and those goods will need to reach them quickly (and cheaply) enough for them to be able to comfortably purchase them. And as the number of Indian Internet users plans to reach 829 million by 2021, Indians will increasingly need to purchase things online. But many traditional retail and E-commerce companies rely on India's transport infrastructure to get their materials and products from point A to point B. This may be problematic, especially if they're relying on India's railway system which is in desperate need of an overhaul. We spoke to Quantified Commerce about how they get around the problems associated with poor railway infrastructure. India has the world's fifth largest railway system, with 62,658 km of railway. In 2013, India joined the billion ton club along with China, Russia, and the United States, for achieving freight loading of 1010 million tonnes. Despite this, roads still took the majority of all goods traffic in the country, because of how shoddy the railway system is. The government-run Indian railways are Asia's oldest rail network, and it shows. Years of underinvestment in the country lead to poorly maintained railways, that are not only inefficient but dangerous as well. As India's economy booms thanks to the influx of Internet users, investment is pouring into the country from E-commerce hopeful investors. "Apart from energy, transportation infrastructure is probably the biggest economic growth driver that India can depend on," says professor G Raghuram from the Indian Institute of Management. "If you want 7% growth, we have to improve our railways." Investors believe that hundreds of billions of dollars of dollars will need to be pumped into the railway system to have it working at peak efficiency. While the extra cash flow has some plans for railway structure improvement over the next few years, including investments foreign companies like General Electric, these will take years before we will sense any real improvement. "Right now, it takes cargo 10-15 days to get from one part of the country to the other via railway," says Agam Berry, co-founder of Quantified Commerce, a vertically integrated company that builds digitally native vertically integrated brands within the beauty space. "We completely avoid using the railway system altogether. We source the exotic ingredients for our beauty and wellness brands from outside of India, but since infrastructure like ports and railways are so unreliable, we bring everything in through air freight. While more expensive, we can afford to do this because we are vertically integrated, so we don't have to pay third-party manufacturers or distributors. This is all done without added cost to our products " And the price is the most important factor when it comes to Indian consumers. Recent reports have unanimously shown that Indians are statistically more price-sensitive than consumers in other countries. While consumers in some countries are loyal to brands, it seems that Indian consumers are much more fickle and likely to go with the lowest price available for the products that they need. Couple that with the fact that the average Indian defined as 'middle-class' makes only ₹250,000 per year and the inherent problem of running a profitable organization in India is clear: "...if a company's products, or the raw materials used to create them, are expensive to transport, they're going to have to pass those exorbitant costs onto their consumers, and those consumers will reject their products for cheaper alternatives," says Berry. "When we founded Quantified Commerce, we saw how other Indian companies had failed and we knew that in order to succeed, we couldn't repeat those same mistakes. By controlling every step of product production and distribution, and then bypassing traditional wholesale and retail outlets, we sell directly to the customer and provide them a product that they both want and can afford. We're tackling these 20th-century logistical problems with 21st-century solutions." What are these 21st-century solutions you may ask? Well, that answer is multi-faceted. While Quantified Commerce is currently using air transportation as its primary method of moving goods, they can only do so because they have been able to cut costs as a vertically integrated business. As Quantified Commerce continues to grow, they've also begun to invest in ground solutions, recently purchasing their first set of trucks and have even taken steps towards utilizing drone delivery services, as recently covered in Gizmodo. While the latter might be a few years away in terms of implementation, Berry is confident that as drones become more affordable and the laws surrounding them are drafted, mass adoption is sure to quickly follow.
India's transportation industry is enormous and growing. It is worth around $160 billion and is projected to grow to $215 billion in the next two years according to an economic survey. This is an industry that provides employment to more than 20 million people and it's only getting started. However, there does remain a problem with this growing industry that could possibly be preventing it from unlocking India's true potential as an economic powerhouse. That problem is unorganized and highly fragmented logistics. One issue is within the trucking industry. In India, the trucking business is highly unorganized and does not have any standards in regards to industry practices. Only 10% of Indian truck operators own a fleet exceeding 25 trucks, and most drivers own single trucks and rely on third parties to handle their orders. This poses a problem to businesses entering the Indian market, "there are a ton of small trucking companies in India and there are no big players who control most of the market, which would offer cost advantages of scale," said Agam Berry, co-founder of Quantified Commerce, a company focused on building e-commerce brands in India, "this obviously poses a problem for companies because the cost of transportation is high." There are other inefficiencies when it comes to India's logistics. India spends around 13% of its GDP on logistics, which is higher than the United States, Europe, and Japan. While more spending would seem like would mean improved logistics, inefficiency is actually what causes the increased spending. "There are several reasons for the high spend on logistics in our country," said Vikas Anand, Managing Director of DHL Supply Chain India, "the condition of roads, the road network itself and vehicles that are not fuel-efficient add to the supply chain cost." There are other aspects of the transportation industry in India posing big problems for businesses. The Indian rail network, while the fourth largest in the world, has some issues that pose problems business and contribute to the country's fragmented logistics. The Indian railway suffers from a lack of manpower. 16% of posts lie vacant across India's rail industry. And while the rail system is only behind the United States, Russia, and China in terms of size, it incurs huge losses every year. Many of India's regions aren't viable for railways, which is another problem that the railroads in India face. Transportation issues aren't the only ones contributing to India's logistics problems. Warehousing presents works in conjunction to compound the problems that plague the already shakey trucking and railway issues. "Multiple warehouses exist creating several points of stock transfers, leading to inefficient distribution channels," said Anand. Some companies that own their own warehouses are able to circumvent this problem. "We have warehouses in four cities, with plans to have them in forty by the end of the year," said Berry. The government is stepping up to solve the logistics problem. In June of 2017 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Goods and Services Tax. This revolutionary new tax would ensure that movement between states becomes cheaper by eliminating small border taxes. This would aid businesses which produce bulk goods and allow for companies to get over the high costs that are incurred as a result of fragmented logistics. But while this historic new tax will greatly relieve the logistics problem many businesses in India face, it will still take time for the logistics problem to be solved completely. However, some companies are finding ways to fix the logistics problems internally. Quantified Commerce's Agam Berry said, "we are looking into owning our own trucks, which would eliminate a lot of the costs and problems India's fragmented logistics present." With the government taking steps to fix India's fragmented logistics through tax reform, and companies like Quantified Commerce taking an active approach to countering the problems that fragmented logistics present, it seems like businesses in India may be able to get around the issues of fragmented logistics, and it seems like those logistics may soon become more cohesive.
Scrum is a managerial iterative process that involves quick daily meetings where organized teams announce to the group their pending tasks, what they're working on, and what they've accomplished since the previous day. It is a way for team members to be held accountable for their key performance in KPIs and each other. Ultimately, the goal of the daily scrum is to keep the goings on of the company transparent to all members and to let employees know they're working collectively towards the desired outcome. We spoke to Quantified Commerce, an Indian vertically-integrated company with a flat organizational model, about how scrum has helped them achieve their goals. The term 'scrum' originated in rugby. It involves the players on opposing teams packing closely together, heads down, in a forceful effort to try to regain control of the ball after it got thrown out of play. The first time it was mentioned in a business managerial sense was in the 1986 Harvard Business Review article, "The New New Product Development Game," where the authors likened innovation to the high-impact sport. But, then for many years, scrum was associated with software development and the Agile manifesto, developed by Jeff Sutherland, Ken Schwaber, and Mike Cohn. While the concept of scrum advanced in software management, it's basic principles can be applied to any type of business. The scrum meetings should be held at the same time each day (preferably at the start) so that team members can become accustomed to the process and plan out the day ahead. There are three basic questions that each member should answer in each scrum: What was worked on yesterday? What will be worked on today? And what has been accomplished? While members can state problems they've come across to impedes them from finishing their tasks on time, scrum meetings should not be used for problem-solving, as it just wastes time for everyone else, and those issues are dealt with in separate meetings. They are simply so that team members can see where they are on the path in moving towards an ultimate goal. Teams that were able to successfully implement scrum reported productivity gains of 200 to 400 percent. Because of the very principle of scrum, where teams hold themselves accountable to each other and not just report tasks completed to an immediate manager, it works best within a flat organization. "When you try to embed scrum as a project management framework within the larger setting of a traditional management of hierarchical bureaucracy, there are inevitable tensions. Usually, the prevailing culture of hierarchical bureaucracy is triumphant," writes Steve Denning, author of The Leader's Guide to Radical Management. Scrum was developed as a catalyst for innovation and proficiency. Companies that work in the fast-paced digital environment prioritize innovation, and for that reason, many of them are flat. Processes move faster in a flat organization because they don't have to move through middle management for approval. Problems are able to be solved quickly, and tasks are able to be completed efficiently because the decision-making fully resides on the employees. That's why Quantified Commerce, a company that builds digitally native vertically integrated brands within India's beauty and wellness sector, is a flat organization that holds daily scrum meetings. "Both at our headquarters in Times Square, New York City and at our warehouses and factories in India, employees have 15-minute scrum meetings every day to see that everything and everyone is moving in the right direction," says Ryan Andreas, co-founder of Quantified Commerce. "On top of that, we have weekly WIG (Wildly Important Goal) meetings. This ensures that everyone is also moving ahead on tasks that fit into Quantified Commerce's larger goals." "On top of automating our manufacturing, we're also automating our workflow," Andreas says. "This reduces any lag on approval processes, by streamlining the workflow, we can move assignments more quickly from pending to having them approved. We can also see how well each item performs, to see what is working and what isn't for our company."Daily scrum meetings help each team member visualize how and where their tasks fit into the company's greater overall process. This type of transparency helps boost productivity within the company, as the team propels itself forward as a unit towards conquering their goals. This is one of the reasons why companies like Quantified Commerce have been able to see extraordinary growth ( 100 to 300% per year over the last four years). When everyone fully understands their position and the position of the other employees, it's easier to win as a team.
Vertical integration is a business buzzword that's been thrown around a lot over the past few years. But, what does it actually mean? It's said that vertical integration helps companies trim the fat and keep more revenue within the business instead of paying outside sources. But, how is it benefiting the customer? We spoke to Quantified Commerce, a vertically integrated company that builds digitally native beauty brands in India, about how vertical integration helps companies succeed and consumers save. In a vertically-integrated business model, the company owns two or more parts of the supply chain. The further back a company moves in merging the supply chain to manufacturing is called backward integration. An example of backward integration would be if a Levi Strauss owned its own cotton farms in Uzbekistan (one of the world's major suppliers of cotton). In forward integration, a company would move down the chain of distribution closer to the customer. For example, if a fishery opened up a chain of seafood restaurants with their own delivery trucks, it would be integrated forward. One of the major advantages of vertical integration is that a company increases its efficiency. In an emerging major E-commerce market like India, vertical integration is the way to best way to maximize efficiency, as outsourcing various parts of the supply chain can lead to major delays and high-costs to both the consumer and the company. India's E-commerce market is the fastest-growing in the world. According to the financial firm, Morgan Stanley, the Indian E-commerce market is expected to grow 1,200% to $200 billion by 2026. This is in comparison to just $15 billion in 2016. This is in part compounded by increased Internet penetration and smartphone adoption, which is set to skyrocket in the coming years. In such a fast-growing market, it is ineffectual to depend on third parties for manufacturing and distributing, as it will just make the process of getting the product to the consumer move at a snail's pace. This is especially true in India, a nation with extremely fragmented logistics. That's why Quantified Commerce owns its own factories and is looking into buying their own trucks. "Outsourcing to a trucking company means that it takes an average of seven days to move products from one part of the country to the other," says Ryan Andreas, co-founder of Quantified Commerce. "Owning our trucks means that the job gets done in two days. This also means that inventory is transported out of our warehouses at a quicker rate. We only hold inventory for about 24 days, as opposed to most companies that are forced to have working capital stuck in inventory for an extra 7-10 days because of poor logistics." But the major benefit of vertical integration is its reduction in costs to the consumer and to the company. "Since we own everything, we are able to standardize everything," says Andreas. "We can have faster loading/unloading, and have a quicker turnaround in comparison to most companies, which lowers our capital requirements." "Also, by owning more than one part of the supply chain, we reduce the overall cost of the product without sacrificing quality," Andreas continues. "In most retail businesses, the cost of goods cannot exceed 8%, as 40% goes to the distributor and another 30% goes to advertising agencies. By owning the distributing and marketing, and selling directly to consumers online, we can spend more on the actual product by selling directly to the consumer." In a country with an emerging middle-class, a high-quality product for less is crucial to the Indian consumer. "Vertical integration is for India, in that the consumer is provided with the best possible product for the lowest-conceivable cost," Andreas says. "This is a nation that is still very price sensitive within its fast-emerging E-commerce market. Vertically integrating our company has allowed our customers to develop brand loyalty with our products. It also lets us cut out any lag time that comes with outsourcing distribution. With increased overall efficiency we are able to build a consistent base of customers that return to us for their E-commerce needs." Indeed, the vertically integrated model has worked well for Quantified Commerce. Within the last three to four years, the company grew 100%-300% per year. This is thanks to their efficiency and customer satisfaction that is created through a direct-to-consumer approach that cuts out unnecessary third parties, streamlining the entire process from manufacturing to distribution. India is currently going through an E-commerce boom, and as it is developing at such a fast rate, a traditional model of manufacturing and distribution simply won't be able to keep up with the demand. Vertical integration is a way for companies to make themselves leaner and create the best consumer experience possible.
Humans are lazy. We want what we want and we want it right now. Companies have always known this, and tried to make it easier for us to get products, and as new technology begins to emerge there may come a day where we never have to leave our home to go shopping again. With the rise of subscription-based services, companies are taking advantage of that all-encompassing human trait of laziness. But while customers may benefit from signing up for a subscription service and never having to worry about where they're going to get their razors from again, advertisers are being left in the dark in terms of just how to advertise in the coming age of automated delivery. It used to be that when you wanted to buy something like razors online, you went to Amazon and typed "razors" into the search bar. Companies would compete for your razor money by hoping that you would find them on Amazon, or from viewing a banner ad. No longer will you be reminded by a banner ad to buy razors, or even buy those razors by searching Amazon. New subscription-based services will make it so you don't even have to think about who or where you're getting your razors from. This makes advertising harder, but some are beginning to figure out new ways to reach customers through unconventional means that are quickly becoming conventional. Facebook is quickly becoming the new TV. It's the world's most popular social media site, with over 2 billion monthly active users. Along with Facebook, Youtube is becoming a more popular way of consuming content than ever before. People watch 1 billion hours of Youtube a day. Advertisers are taking note of consumer's viewing habits as 2017 was the first year that digital ad spending beat out television ad spending. These mediums are going to be used by advertisers more and more as search engines begin to fade into the background. Facebook has a time on site of 6 hours and 20 minutes. People stay on Facebook, they watch videos on Facebook, and therefore can be advertised to on Facebook. And that 1 billion of hours of video that are being consumed on Youtube daily? That's the perfect place to advertise and get around the fact that the search engine is fast becoming a dinosaur when it comes to advertising. The problem with search engines isn't just the subscription-based services mentioned before, which is why Youtube and Facebook can't be the only solutions. The death of advertising through search engines may come through a little talking tower that you can find on your kitchen counter. Yes, you read that right. A stunning prediction places 30% of consumer browsing sessions being voice conducted by 2020. This obviously places great importance on advertisers leveraging personal AI assistants like Siri and Alexa, as well as newer iterations like Apple's HomePod and Android's Essential Home. How do companies leverage these new technologies? The answer may come in a form of entertainment many people thought long dead. Radio, once thought to be an ancient, almost prehistoric form of entertainment is making a comeback in the form of podcasts, and with the advent and integration of home AI assistants like Siri and Alexa the number of podcast listeners will only increase. The rise of audio entertainment reasserting itself as a new and major form of advertising is backed up by numbers. Recent data from an IAB study showed that 65% of podcast listeners are more likely to purchase products they learned about through a podcast. If executed correctly marketers can seamlessly integrate their advertisements into customer's day-to-day lives and will be able to reach more customers in authentic and non-intrusive ways. Companies like Quantified Commerce, a company focused on building e-commerce brands in India are starting to take note of the rising prevalence of personal home assistants like Siri and Amazon's Echo. Ryan Andreas, the co-founder of Quantified Commerce told us that, "people are no longer going to be turning to Google to search for products, or even information, instead of typing something into the computer, they're going to be saying 'hey Siri,'" Berry continued, "that means advertisers are going to have to find ways to work with these new technologies, which is something we're focusing on a lot." Companies are going to need to focus on working with devices like Siri and Amazon's Echo as the industry for personal AI assistants is going to grow by $14.2 billion by 2021. But with companies like Quantified Commerce focused on keeping up with this new technology it may not be the worst thing for advertisers, and they may even find themselves say "Hey Siri, can you help me acquire customers?"
In a recent and shocking prediction, the World Economic Forum predicts that by 2020, 5 million jobs in fields like manufacturing and customer service will be lost. India will not be able to escape this shift towards automation. The country produces 3.8 million cars a year, and BPO (or business process outsourcing) which includes customer service jobs sees millions of educated applicants competing for positions every year. There's an economic revolution taking place, and these sources of employment are not going to remain safe. This means that it is going to be imperative for companies to retrain and re-educate the scores of employees who are going to have their working lives upended by this shift towards an automated and digital age. If this sounds depressing it's not all that bad. The silver lining is there is no shortage of jobs. In a recent Deloitte survey, 39% of large-company executives said they were either "barely able" or "unable" to find the talent their firms required. This clearly points to a thirst for new workers who are skilled in the new digital technologies that are emerging as the main way companies do business. Companies are beginning to take note that re-education and retraining are imperative to competing in a new economic world where automation is taking over and digital skills are necessary to thrive. AT&T, the large U.S. phone company, is one example of how companies are retraining employees to compete in this new world. Since 2013, they have spent more than $250 million on employee education and professional development, and provide their workers with more than $30 million in tuition assistance if employees choose to re-enroll in university. This initiative is beginning to show results. From January to May 2016 employees who had been re-trained filled 50% of all the technology management jobs at the company, and had received 47% of promotions in the technology organization. This isn't just a benefit for the employees, but also for the companies that employ them. AT&T has seen a 40% reduction in their product-development cycle and accelerated their time to revenue by 32%. But as with anything, there is no pay off if companies and organizations are not forward-thinking, Claudia Crummenerl, head of executive leadership and change at the consultancy Capgemini says, "There are pockets of good… Generally, the focus is very much on the current demand for data scientists and not so much on technologies, such as AI, that are coming up." What she's saying is that if companies aren't progressive in their views towards the automation and need for digital literacy that is looming on the horizon they are going to be left in the cold. Companies who do look towards the future don't see only the retraining of staff for new digital jobs as a goal, but the restructuring and rethinking of workplace environments and social structures as necessary initiatives to increase productivity, revenue, and success. Quantified Commerce, a digitally native company is looking to make waves in terms of the retraining and re-education of employees."We found it impossible to find and hire good managers," said Agam Berry, co-founder of Quantified Commerce, "that's why we have our own learning management system, and an entire team devoted solely to creating content and testing people on the content that has been put on to the learning management system." Berry cites underperforming Indian education as an example of why retraining and educating employees, particularly in India, is so important, "the Indian education has not been able to keep up with the times," said Berry, "we have built programs internally to teach our management and staff how to stay relevant in the digital age, which has machine learning, AI, and automation as a part of everything. Continuing education is extremely important for employees, and for a business to succeed in India, it's absolutely imperative." AT&T and Quantified Commerce are examples of companies that are looking to buck the trend of automation by retraining and re-educating their employees. This isn't just for the benefit of the company, however, as the re-training of employees has lead to increased job satisfaction and morale, which leads to increased motivation. Re-training and re-education efforts by progressive companies are a win-win for both the company and its employees. Entering into the digital age is going to present problems, problems that are not going to be solved overnight. It's going to take forward-thinking companies like AT&T and Quantified Commerce to solve those problems.