E-commerce Dissertation on Le6efly.com
Le6efly.com is a newly established e-commerce platform, which offers advice, ideas and insights into the market for baby products and services. It combines state-of-the-art interactive technology with the knowledge of some of Kuwait’s most dedicated parents and experts, and allow parents to know more about parenting, current products, prices and development. Moreover, the website contains a price comparison search engine and a second-hand billboard, in which Le6efly.com takes an active role in connecting buyers and sellers and providing a wide array of technical services.
The art of parenting is extremely hard to master. Every child is unique in his or her own way, and even long-time parents may experience significant challenges in the quest towards what is best for their baby. Moreover, the market for baby products is extremely wide and shows very high degree of innovation.
This may be very good news for parents, who can now enjoy products and services that improve every day. It also may, however, bring about confusion, hesitation and reluctance to adopt a product or a service, which may become outdated or even turn out to be harmful for their child.
Le6efly.com is a new ecommerce platform, which may solve many of the problems facing contemporary parents. The central paradigm underlying the business methods described in this paper perceives clients. That is, we aim to provide the means for parents to express their knowledge, opinions and concerns, to ask questions and give answers, and to choose products with a comprehensive set of decision-making tools.
State of the Company
The newly established Le6efly is a vibrant initiative, led by several young professionals in the rapidly growing Kuwaiti ecommerce sector. Though the incorporation process has not been completed yet, the founders are already working on finalizing the company’s prospective core operation, namely the parenting website Le6efly.com.
At this point in the company’s initiation phase, most of the decision-making and current tasks relate to building (rather than sustaining and/or developing) the managerial and operational frameworks needed to provide effective services. The company’s executive body is rather heterogenic, especially in terms of professional backgrounds, ranging from technical backgrounds to logistics and marketing.
With such a promising array of skills and a multidisciplinary body of knowledge, we (as the leaders of Le6efly) try to approach every decision as comprehensively as possible. Our major decisions and plans provide the major bulk of this report.
The company’s current and prospective operations raise several external challenges, which require proper consideration. As our main intention is to use ecommerce platforms to sell baby and early parenthood products, it would be appropriate to share some insights regarding the market. Such insights are highly valuable for our planning, but need to be taken into consideration by our investors and financing partners.
The success (or failure) of ecommerce activities is fundamentally inclined with the target market’s e-readiness, that is, the extent to which a given market can adopt electronic services as a widespread economic activity1. Needless to say that measurements of e-Readiness go beyond mere technological issues, as culture, psychographic factors and contextual characteristics of specific markets differ substantially even within a region or an economy. Studies of e-readiness in Kuwait show that the country’s current position is rather mediocre compared to markets with similar economic performance2. Nevertheless, this current weakness does not imply that Kuwait is a stagnant market for ecommerce. In fact, ecommerce has a significant potential in Kuwait and the Gulf region3, whereas competition is still low and allow smaller players an easier access than traditional marketing channels.
Another important question regarding the company’s business environment is the demographic state of the market. Notwithstanding the importance of other demographic and/or economic characteristics of the Kuwaiti market for baby products, let us examine one of the most significant comparisons. Recent data4 indicates that with although Kuwait’s birth rate of 21.64 births/1,000 population is ranked only 86th in the world, its extremely high GDP per capita ($54,100, or the world’s 7th) puts it in a unique position:
When comparing Kuwait’s birth rate to the birth rates of the six countries with higher GSP per capita, one will easily find that Kuwait outperforms all other countries in that measure. For example, Qatar’s GDP per capita is 2nd in the world, but its birth rate is about 30% than Kuwait. Along with many other indicators, this data shows that Kuwaiti parents do not only have one of the world’s highest disposable incomes, but their reproduction also outnumbers any other wealthy nation. Thus, we can assume that the Kuwaiti parent is among the biggest spenders (in relative terms) in the world.
Vision and Mission
In the process of defining our vision and mission statements, we have realized the enormous significance of our company, namely the premise of our contribution to nurturing the development, the well-being and the health of Kuwait’s next generation. With about 60,852 newborns joining us every year5, Le6efly.com is not only a promising venture, but also a way for us to do something for the future of our country.
Furthermore, it became evidently clear for us that we need to define three types of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) paradigms: Firstly the parents (as the majority of our target market) as clients, with whom we build a relationship of satisfying needs and wants through our commercial platform. Secondly, since the final users of the products, services and information provided on our website, we must define the parents as partners, in the light of the collaboration between the company and its clients, a collaboration that aims to help us all to grow a great generation of Kuwaitis. Finally, the parents may find our platform as a means to communicate with other users, thereby creating bonds beyond the core services we provide.
Every eight minutes, a new hope is born in Kuwait. Every eight minutes, a new hope is born for Kuwait.
By becoming each and every Kuwaiti parent’s first choice on the Web, Le6efly.com will help to give more to our children, will build a healthier and happier generation, and will make sure that the hope will come true.
Dedicated to the prosperity of Kuwaiti babies and their parents, Le6efly will redefine the role of baby products retailer. It will treat parents as partners rather than customers, and will provide products and services never seen before in Kuwait using cutting-edge technologies.
Because we see parents as partners for success, we will emphasize collaboration at the B2C and C2C levels. Le6efly.com will be at least sparkling as its staff. It will sell, but will not exploit. It will teach, but will not be patronizing. It will be the most competitive service in the business, but it will never, under any circumstances, do anything that falls short of the very best.
Company Physical Description
Online services provide new horizons for efficiency. Le6efly will try to limit overheads as much as possible. The company’s workforce will be mostly comprised from stay-at-home moms, who will provide the major bulk of everyday business activities (e.g. customer service, content management, bookkeeping and shipping) and will enrich the company with their hands-on experience. Parents will be the first choice for other positions as well. In addition, the company will try to minimize risk and costs by keeping only buffer inventory, and only in cases when the suppliers do not have their own inventories at a reasonable distance. Items stored in the company’s facilities will only be accepted under consignment agreements.
Core Competencies and Competitive Advantages
The promising business environment and the unique approach to operations do not guarantee success. In order to thrive, Le6efly must be ahead of the market, to remain innovative and to develop a favorable public image.
The Kuwaiti consumer is more sophisticated and demanding than ever before. When she looks for a product or a service on the Internet, a Kuwaiti mom is interested in a wider array of features than simply quality, price and availability. If the retailer fails to deliver those additional offerings, chances are that no sell will be made. Hence the importance of providing parents with comprehensive knowledge on different aspects of parenting, which facilitate smarter consumption behavior and allow the service to position itself as an authority in the field.
Le6efly’s core competencies focus on two planes. First, by the virtue of its virtual interfaces, the company’s price competiveness and large variety of products and product categories gives it significant advantages over physical stores. Second, the unique customer experience offered on the website (see next chapter), coupled with flexibility and market responsiveness, help to distinguish Le6efly.com from other potential competitors, who may offer fairly similar products and prices, but lack the company’s special bond with its target market.
Products and Services
Generally speaking, Le6efly.com is an online parenting portal that provides access to information, insights and products to parents, who want to do more for their babies. As described next, the website offers access to a large number of services, knowledge bases and exchange of ideas regarding every possible aspect of being a parent in the 21st century.
The major bulk of activities on Le6efly.com concentrate on educating and supporting parents as they experience the difficulties and joys of having children. Through experts’ opinions, direct consulting, blogs and an extensive articles database, parents can get information and ask specific question regarding matters such as:
- Baby products: choosing the products that best fit your baby’s needs and your abilities
- Health: identifying early symptoms, findings pediatricians and specialists, alternative medicine, etc.
- Child development: tracking normal and impaired development, learning methods to enhance cognition and language
- Safety and prevention: avoiding common mistakes that may risk your baby
- Fashion: making your baby looking like a star
- Technology: choosing and using hi-tech products for the 21st century parent
- Relationships: building strong relationships with your baby and handling interpersonal difficulties in families
Much of the content will be provided to all visitors. More advanced topics and platforms will be offered only to registered users, whereas a premium service will enable users to contact our panel of experts directly, for a fee, using emails, chats, etc.
Product Reviews and Price Comparison
This feature helps users in their purchasing decision-making by showing other retailers’ offerings and prices. It will include a search engine and lists of product categories, as well as time-efficient options to search within and between categories, prices, suppliers and brands. Once a decision has been made, the user clicks on the product of her choice and being transferred directly to the retailer’s order form (see sample image).
The retailers (who pay for their presence on the site and for a margin of their sales, of course) must adhere to Le6efly’s strict consumer protection policy. The main rules and regulations, which aim to sustain strong image to the site, include, among others:
- All product specifications, prices and delivery times appears on Le6efly.com are final.
- No extra costs will be added once the user goes into the retailer’s website.
- The retailer will offer a 30-days money back guarantee to all products.
- The retailer will ship the goods Kuwait-wide.
Le6efly’s B2B platforms were designed to meet parents’ to exchange ideas, share experiences and communicate with parents who may help to solve a common issue. Moreover, these services turn visitors/clients into contributors/collaborators, thereby enriching the website, strengthening users’ loyalty and creating a ‘buzz’ about the site.
The main social platforms will be:
- Forums/ discussion groups Blogs
- Messaging service (using an internal mail system)
- Feeding system for mini-blogs: these are short feeds (similar to Twitter, but public), in which users can greet the others, tell a brief story or share a moment of joy.
It should be noted, however, that Le6efly’s goals are to help in parenting rather than to entertain. Company’s employees will regulate the activity on the site, to make sure that the platforms are not used for inappropriate purposes. We will not allow any infringement of our users’ privacy, well-being or cultural values.
Le6efly’s Billboards will provide the opportunity for users to carry out B2B ecommerce. Potential sellers and buyers will be able to buy and sell second hand baby product, books, etc. Each ad will be charged a very small fee.
The company will offer sellers and buyers simple user-friendly ecommerce tools, such as money transfer, insurance and shipment. However, buyers and sellers will not be obliged to use these services; if they can and want, a seller and a buyer can arrange for the transaction instead.
Finally, the delivery service offers parents, who live in remote regions and/or having difficulties arriving at a physical shop, the possibility to get products directly to their homes. This service may solve some discrepancies between parents’ needs and the current state of Kuwaiti ecommerce. For example, a mother in need for a specific nutrient (e.g. lactose-free milk powder) and cannot find it in a store in her area, can ask us to buy and deliver the product directly to her.
Providing cutting-edge technology may be sometimes quite tricky, because excessive technology may reduce users’ compliance and compatibility. In order to provide as wide access as possible, Le6efly.com will be a bilingual service, will keep a simple, clean design, and will avoid plug-ins or applications which are not compatible with older and/or Mac operating systems.
All other platforms except the price comparison section will present short word-ads, which relate to keywords on the page. A discussion on bottles, for example, will be accompanied by direct links to the bottles comparison page. In addition, users’ activities in their personal accounts (e.g. the messaging service) will offer links to similar discussions, blogs, or products.
By this stage we have arrived at the most important decisions regarding the company’s structure, operation, service bundle and so on. We are now ready to go ahead and do your best for our shareholders. This section will briefly describe the tasks we intend to carry out in the near future.
First, we are going to launch a beta version of Le6efly.com within the next several days. The idea is to test the technical models, as well as to see initial public response, using patterns, etc.
Second, two business development teams are now working with providers of content (e.g. physicians and other experts) and business partners (i.e., online retailers), to build a network for the main operations. Recruitment efforts are under way as well, mainly in internal services such as translation and bookkeeping.
Third, although Le6efly is not a very capital-intensive business, we as managers must ensure that the initial stages of operations will not suffer from lack of finance. Hence, we must work closely and openly with our investors and financiers. Together with them, we are building now our financial and budgeting plans, and try to reach realistic expectations in terms of ROI.
Finally, once the beta testing period will be over (approximately one month after launch), the introduction of the full website will be coupled with a small, though effective promotional campaign.
The main promotional tools we intend to use will be direct marketing in hospitals and child clinics, online ads and banners, and a word-of-mouth (pseudo-informal) campaign on existing channels (such as parenting forums).
Le6efly’s business model enjoys the growth potential of ecommerce in Kuwait, as well as the relatively high expenditure on baby products in the country. Instead of merely competing with other retailers on offerings and prices in this growing market, we take a different approach. We offer parents to be our partners, to learn and to teach, and to improve their competencies as parents and consumers.
This novel business approach is a direct consequence of the opportunities offered by the interactive communication technologies on the Internet. In particular, we intend to use the premise of allowing consumers to express themselves and to choose their solutions from a wide range of alternatives. Thus, Le6efly will personalize user experience, educate parents, and make a good business that also contributes to the future of Kuwaiti society.
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