Over a period of 36 months, Fredrik guided Visable through the ideation, conceptualisation, prototyping, and launch of a new digital service product; Connect simplifies the B2B-sourcing process by providing a semi-automated process connecting purchasers with suppliers that match their requirements.
In 2018, I was hired to provide strategic UX support on an innovation project initiated to boost customer retention rates. There was already an outline of a solution, a “Message Center” for communication between Purchasers and Suppliers. However, I wasn’t convinced about the impact this would have and engaged the Head of Product and Product Owner in a couple of brainstorming sessions. It quickly became clear to us that “Messages” as such was neither the solution nor the mission with the project. There were so many steps before communication between parties would take place that could be optimised and provided as a service. In the next weeks, we reframed the challenge as “accelerating the sourcing process”.
This new domain felt bold and relevant. It could drive collaboration between product and other teams, and allowed room to tackle other pressing issues on the path to Retention, such as purchaser engagement, data quality, etc. Our mission statement quickly set a direction not just for the Connect product team, but for a cross-discipline collaborative effort across the company.
The core product provides an end-to-end service
Other stakeholders contribute and benefit
The first iteration of Connect was an entirely manual process to figure out if the service we envisioned was attractive and feasible at all. We contacted professional purchasers on the wlw platform and asked them to provide us with product requests/specifications. We then used this data to match suppliers listed on the platform, who in turn we contacted and asked about their interest in and capability to address the request in question. Connect today works very much the same way, but with a scalable, semi-automated product to handle request creation, matching, and supplier responses.
Through a combination of both radical and incremental innovations, allowing multiple teams to contribute meaningfully to the mission, Connect quickly proved to deliver insights into the mechanics of the wlw eco-system that were previously not available to the company. It has sparked various additional initiatives across the platform, such as a the setting up of a whole new team dedicated to quality assurance and matching, an internal request administration tool, new sales initiatives based on insights gathered through Connect, the creation of new tools for matching keywords and categories to companies that extend the purpose of a parallel “ontology” project, and so on.
The litmus test
Retention is a “wicked problem” and addressing it through Connect has revealed and created other problems. There is, however, clear evidence of a strong correlation between customer (supplier) retention and the number of received Connect requests, further underlining the perceived value of the service and supporting our original hypothesis.
The success of Connect has been achieved through multiple, bottom-up solutions. And by shifting focus from ‘product’ to building real tangible service value attached to – and enhancing the perception of – the Visable brand.
Product Owner: Alexander Karidas
The team in our Hamburg studio in 2018