Businesses face a constant struggle to differentiate themselves from their competitors and make themselves special to their customers.
It’s far too easy for companies to become “just another supplier” without really building a relationship with their clients. Distributors, manufacturers, and wholesalers all face this problem. As a result, business stagnates, customers leave, and companies fail.
However, more businesses have been turning to e-commerce recently, with Covid-19 being one of the biggest factors for this shift. Furthermore, selling products online means greater reach for businesses, which translates to better business.
This means that more businesses are vying for a slice of the e-commerce pie, alongside e-commerce giants that are already established in the marketplace.
But one more global brand, with Brazilian roots, is coming to join the party.
Called VTEX, it is a digital e-commerce platform and it has been dubbed the fastest-growing e-commerce platform in the world for the past two years. To date, the company has more than 2,400 customers and 3,200 active online stores across 38 countries.
What exactly does VTEX do?
The company first started out by developing software for the textile industry in Latin America.
“The founders, Geraldo Thomaz and Mariano Gomide, took the first steps with US$150,000 that they got by pooling their own savings and the investment of a former boss. That is how Vitrine Têxtil was born,” said Pablo Che Leon Sarmiento, VTEX’s General Manager for Southeast Asia.
“The first 10 years were really challenging, but it was also very important to teach the founders and establish VTEX’s culture.”
When the founders failed to find success with their original idea, they decided that a change in strategy was needed. The new idea? To pivot VTEX into an e-commerce solution with global aspirations.
Their big break came in 2007, when VTEX was chosen by Walmart to develop their e-commerce platform.
This opportunity was not only a door to go global – it also opened their eyes as to how VTEX could define itself in the e-commerce space and differentiate themselves from their competitors.
During those intense eight months, we realised that the challenges we encountered had nothing to do with generating revenue for our customer. Security, privacy, scalability, servers, deployment, testing — we tackled every issue except how to engage with and amaze the end consumer.
This complex challenge inspired us: how could a large, blue-chip company keep up with the fast-paced digital world while dealing with so much overhead? It became evident that enterprises had to find a way to move online without wasting time and resources on unnecessary complexities.
The industry needed a scalable solution. We knew that VTEX could transform technology from being a burden into serving as a powerful accelerator for enterprises’ revenue growth.
– Geraldo Thomaz Jr. and Mariano Gomide de Faria, co-founders of VTEX
From there, the sky was the limit. VTEX became the global digital commerce vendor for enterprise brands including Whirlpool, AB inBev, and other Fortune 500 companies.
Getting the most out of an e-commerce platform
The lessons that VTEX learnt from their experience with Walmart were put to good use. VTEX made their solutions and offerings unique, catering specifically to businesses — wherever they are — to truly create a world of commerce without limitations.
VTEX created a platform for enterprises that ensures businesses can focus on what matters most to them.
For enterprises that have an issue with logistics and getting products to customers, VTEX has its own shipping network to help enterprises get their products out.
For other businesses that want to better understand their customer base and expand it, VTEX allows businesses to take full advantage of data provided by their customers — to better understand and meet consumer needs, plan for the future, optimise supply chain operations, and manage their channels.
VTEX offers a SaaS digital commerce platform engineered to enterprise-level standards and features. It aims to empower customers to execute their commerce strategy, including building online stores, integrating and managing orders across channels, and creating marketplaces to sell products from third-party vendors.
In addition, VTEX also offers solutions for enterprises with capabilities that deliver unprecedented time-to-revenue, to an array of customisation options empowering businesses to build unique customer experiences while reducing complexity of onboarding.
As such, enterprises are able to personalise their experiences and focus on their core competencies.
Following the opening of its customer excellence office in Singapore in 2020 and its Initial Public Offering (IPO) last year on the New York Stock Exchange, VTEX is expanding quickly across Asia Pacific due to rising customer demand.
Enterprises are, after all, keen to bring the company’s end-to-end commerce solution to the region.
Facing challenges while entering a new market is not uncommon. We have faced challenges such as further localising our platform for the local market, attracting, hiring, and retaining the very best talents and developing a robust and broad partnership network.
We have been increasingly successful in overcoming these challenges. A proof of this is that, when engaging with new potential customers, we are able to meet most of their requests without demanding substantial development from our regional product team.
– Pablo Che Leon Sarmiento, General Manager for Southeast Asia, VTEX
VTEX’s future in the APAC region
Retail e-commerce sales amounted to approximately US$4.9 trillion worldwide in 2021, according to Statista. The figure is forecast to grow by 50 per cent over the next four years, reaching about US$7.4 trillion by 2025.
Following the growing e-commerce trend, Asia Pacific is by far the largest market for retail e-commerce – its digital retail sales are more than three times greater than in North America and nearly five times greater than in Western Europe.
So what does VTEX believe its role in the APAC region to be, and what is the future that it envisions?
For one, VTEX believes that digital is the future, which businesses agree with.
“Talking to businesses and CEOs across Asia is an interesting experience. They are convinced that digital commerce is the future of their business and the importance of having a direct relationship with consumers is a top priority,” said Pablo.
He added that the ongoing pandemic has exacerbated the need for retailers to understand their consumers better.
As the e-commerce platform of the future, VTEX is uniquely positioned to service the needs of enterprises in the region, with its many capabilities and benefits. In fact, it already has several awards to its name – VTEX has been rated a Visionary by Gartner, and awarded for its B2B Digital Commerce Excellence.
However, this does not mean that VTEX is content to rest on its laurels. There is always more to be done, and it strongly believes that e-commerce is not just about providing buyers and sellers with a place to buy and sell things.
It stressed that e-commerce is also about building relationships, understanding customers, and expanding reach. This is why VTEX has created something that will benefit enterprises significantly by cutting their overheads and allowing them to focus on what truly matters.
VTEX is also extremely adaptable to market trends, as shown by the addition of its Live Shopping capabilities.
Live Shopping is the epitome of holistic shopping — it is an online shopping experience that matches a video livestream with the capabilities of a traditional digital store, offering interactive content from which a consumer can directly make a purchase.
In particular, Nestlé saw their orders and revenue increase by 269 and 206 per cent respectively. These numbers would not have been possible if not for VTEX’s adaptability and foresight.
This (understanding of customers) is not possible if retailers are only playing their digital commerce strategy with one hand. It’s increasingly important to play this strategy multi-handed.
This means providing retailers with a robust digital commerce capability to sell their products at a marketplace, to build their own marketplace, to sell their products through social media, conversational commerce, live streaming, while also opening additional sales channels for their distributors and wholesalers.
– Pablo Che Leon Sarmiento, General Manager for Southeast Asia, VTEX
As VTEX continues its expansion and growth, enterprises can expect more to come from them.
At the end of the day, VTEX believes in making bold decisions for the success of their customers, and ensuring that customers reap the maximum benefit from e-commerce.
For enterprises looking to expand offerings, better understand customers, and streamline production, you can try out VTEX’s solutions here.
Featured Image Credit: NYSE/Disclosure/JC