In between meetings a man is eager to replace his existing mobile phone with the newest smartphone he has heard so much about. Needing to accomplish this task quickly, he navigates to an online phoneshop. After finding the correct product he begins the checkout process. But as he is forced to click through a fifth screen, he realizes he won’t be able to finish in time for his next meeting. Frustrated and disappointed, he closes his browser without completing the transaction. Now imagine if that man could complete the same transaction within just one or two screens. The possibility of his purchasing the smartphone before his next meeting increases exponentially.
The telecommunications industry has become one of the most competitive markets in today’s economy. With so many vendor, product and service options available to customers, a Telco’s ability to improve the customer experience can have a dramatic affect on conversion rates. T-Mobile understands this challenge first hand. One of the top three global wireless carriers and a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom AG, T-Mobile serves 150 million subscribers across Europe and the United States.
Eight years ago, at the request of the Marketing department, T-Mobile’s Netherlands IT group built a customized online webshop. Though state-of-the-art at the time, the system grew too inflexible to support the company’s needs, making it difficult for the Internet Marketing group to quickly and easily execute campaigns, support special offers or take advantage of market opportunities. In an on-demand world that requires companies to react almost immediately to remain competitive, it was taking T-Mobile months to develop the functionality to support new initiatives. The company needed to reduce that time-to-market down to weeks, if not days.
Though the IT department was highly skilled and committed to meeting Marketing’s needs, the time and effort required became cost prohibitive. Also, the Marketing department was looking to decrease its dependence on IT and increase its own ability to quickly define, customize and execute campaigns. According to Tessel Jarigsma, Senior Vice President for Internet and New Media at T-Mobile, flexibility and cost were the primary drivers behind the company’s search for a new solution.
“First and foremost, we needed a solution that offered the flexibility to quickly and easily meet the ever-changing, on-demand needs of the industry. Second, it no longer made sense for us to incur all of the development costs to customize a solution when there were excellent solutions on the market developed by vendors who knew far more about the subject than we do. We wanted to take advantage of that expertise and reap the benefits of future enhancements based on feedback and requests from other customers within our industry.”
And with approximately 30% of all telecom products in the Netherlands purchased online, T-Mobile concluded that a more flexible shopping platform would be a strategic step forward in its online strategy and ability to gain market share.
Flexibility, Cost, Time-to-Market and Agility Key Requirements
Jarigsma’s department was recently established within T-Mobile with the directive to combine all e-commerce-, e-business-, and Internet-related activities into one, single entity in order to accelerate the growth of both sales and services. So as she began her search for a new solution, the list of criteria included far more than just functionality requirements.
“Management requirements were just as important to us, if not more so,” explains Jarigsma. “Flexibility, cost, time-to-market, agility—those were the elements that were going to give us the business success and competitive advantage we were looking for. In most cases, you can easily add functionality, but those other elements are far more complex and dependent on the very foundation of a solution.”
According to Jarigsma, the MamboFive Commerce Suite from TIE Kinetix offered both the functionality and management requirements the company was looking for. And in addition, T-Mobile could leverage the expertise and experience of TIE Kinetix’s business partner, The Online Company, for systems integration. “Both companies were local, which was important to us. Our three companies were culturally aligned, very results driven and truly embodied the notion of team spirit. Having this kind of working relationship—both during and after a project, is critical to long-term success.”
T-Mobile has replaced its previous solution, an Oracle-based system running on eight different machines, with TIE Kinetix’s ecommerce Software as a Service (SaaS) platform, the MamboFive Commerce Suite. By outsourcing its entire platform, T-Mobile will achieve an optimal balance between technological possibilities and the ever-changing demands of the business. Based on the Progress® OpenEdge® platform from Progress Software, the flexibility of the MamboFive system enables very fast time-to-market. Some of TIE Kinetix’s customers have reported their ability to plan and implement campaigns within just one to two days. And because the entire system is cloud-based, T-Mobile’s Marketing department now has far more freedom and agility to execute their own programs.
“In modern E-commerce it all comes to generating traffic and the conversion to sales. The bottleneck lies in the conversion. For an optimal conversion, a high degree of flexibility is necessary. This enables you to respond directly to the competition and to launch new products instantaneously,” says Frank Van Doorn, Director of TIE Kinetix. “Our application offers T-Mobile a very short time-to-market, which is essential in today’s competitive climate. And we can also ensure 99.9% uptime of their phoneshop due to our stable Progress-based platform.”
The Online Company, an independent consultancy organization specialized in developing online distribution strategies, conversion optimization and e-shop implementations, was responsible for enabling the integration between MamboFive
and the other T-Mobile applications that required an interface with the system.
“E-commerce is all about speed,” says Erik van Laar, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of The Online Company. “In order to limit the time-to-market, a high degree of flexibility is necessary. An optimal connection between back office systems and the front office is essential. MamboFive is ideal to make that link seamlessly.” With the help of TIE Kinetix and The Online Company, T-Mobile’s new phoneshop was implemented in under five months—from first draft to the actual cut over.
Today, T-Mobile’s catalog manager delivers datasets through an FTP server to MamboFive. From there, the system imports all of the information, updating order status to T-Mobile’s back office systems every five minutes. The MamboFive system also provides part of the backend processing, including filtering and checks, to ensure all orders are clean before they are sent to T-Mobile’s systems.
T-Mobile is currently using its ecommerce system for consumer acquisition, but Jarigsma says they have plans to also leverage the system for business acquisition and consumer renewals/upgrades. “From a cost and productivity standpoint, it is to our benefit to have all of our sale segments running on the same platform. Our plan is to have these additional implementations complete in Q1 and Q2 of this year.”
Ease-of-Use and Richer Content Increase Conversion Rates and Revenue
Though T-Mobile just recently completed the implementation, the company is already realizing tremendous business benefits. T-Mobile has substantially improved the customer experience with new functionality, content and ease-of-use. For example, it has integrated social media and significantly reduced the number of steps and web pages customers are required to navigate to complete transactions. A series of processes that once required T-Mobile’s customers to navigate through five different web pages has been merged into a single page.
“Every time I give a management presentation about this topic, I always say ‘this is what we spent our money on,’ because it is such a fantastic advantage,” says Jarigsma. T-Mobile can also offer new upgrades that it couldn’t before, which make the shopping process more attractive to the customer. “We were looking for an easy-to-use webshop for our customers. With MamboFive we have minimized the number of steps related to placing an order. In addition, we are now able to offer richer content: customer reviews, up sell opportunities, stock information and detailed product descriptions. As a result thereof, we are able to increase the conversion and generate more revenue from our webshop.” And T-Mobile’s marketing and management teams now have access to real-time Web statistics and traffic results, and the ability to quickly and easily change or modify promotions to increase response rates.
Jarigsma says the experience of working with TIE Kinetix and The Online Company has been very positive. “We work in a very entrepreneurial, very open and proactive way with each other. That has certainly contributed to the success of our project. And I expect that our collaborative relationship will continue to serve our needs and drive results as industry and customer requirements inevitably change.”