Marketplaces are here to serve you

Marketplaces are here to serve you

Changes in consumer behavior are driving the change in marketplaces. New players will solve narrower user needs, but far more conveniently and smoothly than before. All based on machine learning and data.

Rapid growth in new marketplace models such as Farfetch, Rebagg, Glovo, and Frontier Car Group are great examples of this quick change. These models demonstrate how convenience and flexibility are shaping our attitudes towards spending and how easy it is to switch to a new player in today’s competitive landscape. New marketplaces are moving away from owning unique supplies of goods and content. Instead, by using machine learning and data, they can easily find what we need in a specific niche, where it is available for immediate shipping. This will happen whether we’re looking for a car, for real­ estate, jobs, home appliances, education or any other segment. This is why there is a verticalization of marketplaces. High relevance is the new black in the market. Medwing is a great example of this in the health area, as is Zenjob for job search, helping students get jobs.

Immersive marketplaces

Usually this kind of approach means higher risk, since it involves handling transactions and logistics, getting temporary workers on the payroll, financing the deal, providing warehousing and relocation services. But the aim is to remove unnecessary friction and barriers to make good deals happen. These new marketplaces do not only sell leads and visibility anymore, they help users to transact and fulfill their needs end-to-end. As an example, a student using the Zenjob app can work whenever it’s convenient between exams, classes and on holidays without the hassle of applying for a job at Zara or H&M. These new models are still at an emerging stage but major VC funds and investors are betting billions to make them dominant in major markets in Europe.

We used to think that you need to build a strong brand to become a destination for certain needs. This still applies, but there is no room for many apps in people’s phone habits anymore. Therefore, we can also see new immersive marketplace models popping up inside mobile apps where we engage on a daily basis. Tomorrow’s winners use machine learning to identify and match patterns in our behavior, learn our purchase intents from P2P communication and integrate themselves seamlessly into communications platforms we engage with every day. We have already seen social network based marketplaces, such as Threads, without a destination site, just living in Messenger apps, and popping up at a relevant moment. I bet these models will appear in social channels like Slack in the coming quarters.

A new era for cars

Car manufacturers are already testing out sharing services based on flexible subscriptions to access a car you need, making it clear that the era of electrical cars will be quite different from the combustion engine cars we know today. There are also new kinds of aggregation services launched for micro-mobility, using bicycles and e-scooters. Behind this is the fact that more than half of our car rides tend to be less than five kilometres. The era of new network based transportation market­places has started giving us easy ways to access a vehicle. Mobility companies like Tier, Bipi, Drover and Cluno are great examples in Europe, similar to their US based peers like Uber, Lime and Fair.

The tech needs to mature

The boom of blockchain and cryptocurrencies motivated many teams to discuss how the trust in marketplaces could be solved in a new way. Companies like Listia, Open­bazaar and Origami Network have been leading the way and protocols such as INK have collected capital to develop the technology. However, as always the new technology needs to mature and become more scalable to win over older models. But in three to five years time, the development around blockchain will probably pass the threshold of convenience, speed and scalability, making it a viable technology for decentralized marketplaces for mass markets. The underlying blockchain based models will help build highly scalable marketplaces and solve how we transact across different transaction cultures, taxation models and payment structures. It is yet to be seen which protocol will win, but it is evident that the benefits of a fully transparent and trackable marketplace are there.

Reduce, reuse, rethink

Reduce, reuse, rethink

Is it the next economical evolvement or a part of the fourth industrial revolution? Circular economy is even called a necessity if we want to survive.

The concept, which is built on reduce, reuse, repair and recycle, has no founder or date of origin. But it has gained momentum since the late 1970s, led by academics, thought-leaders, NGOs and businesses. The biggest driving force, however, is Mother Nature and how she reacts to the fact that an increasing population is draining her.

The global population will reach close to nine billion by 2030 and is expected to reach eleven billion by 2100. We all consume natural resources as if we had 1.7 planets. As we’re running out of resources the logic of circular economy is indisputable. It aims to keep products, ­components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times so that waste is minimized and natural resources will be used more efficiently.

“The circular economy can support businesses”

Translating the rate in which we consume the world into a personal level means basically that you and I need to halve our consumption or start to consume with twice the intelligence… It’s either that or facing the consequences that already are upon us such as water scarcity, air pollution and natural disasters where nine out of ten are climate-related.

This is nothing new. We’ve been warned for decades about the effects of our unsustainable lifestyles. But it is not until now that new intelligent ways of consuming are emerging at high speed, primarily thanks to technical and digital innovations. 3D printing revolutionizes manufacturing by reducing waste and emissions. Blockchains enable more efficient ways of pricing and selling, clean power and machine­2machine systems can monitor, control and optimize lights, heating and cooling of buildings – just to name a few.

A new business model

Some people urge business to support a circular economy, but when you think about it – it’s really the other way around. The circular economy can support businesses as we’re moving towards what many predict as an unstable global market with limited access to water and energy, scarce agricultural and mineral inputs resulting in increased prices, surcharges and taxes on emissions and waste.

Since the circular economy not only aims to ensure the survival of the planet but also the survival of businesses there are innumerous cases of companies who explore and innovate within this field. Thanks to the circular concept sustainability has become a potential for reducing costs, strong competitiveness and making money. The circular economy is a USD 4.5 trillion opportunity according to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development in their CEO Guide to the circular economy.

Going from a linear economy to a circular one is of high interest, not only among companies, but also among nations such as Finland, Scotland and Japan which are in the forefront of the sustainable road­map. Sweden is another country which is early and active. The government has recently set up an inquiry to analyze and propose policy instruments to promote increased utilization and re-use of products in order to prevent waste and to overcome barriers in the transition to a circular economy. Some of the suggestions ahead are increased access to car pools, tax deductions for rental goods, secondhand goods and repairs and increased legal rights within secondhand trade and sharing.

And the timing is right. More and more customers are becoming environmentally aware. Reports from different countries indicate that consumers prefer sustainable brands. For instance, a survey from Blocket in Sweden shows that four out of ten Swedes choose brands that actively contribute to a sustainable society. Many actors see business opportunities in the fact that the customers are waiting for corporations to enable circular consumption. According to Sustainable Brand Insight 33 percent of the Swedish population expect companies to make it easier for consumers to buy secondhand, rent and borrow things from each other.

Consume intelligently

And here is where Schibsted plays a role. With 22 marketplaces for secondhand trade all around the world and approximately 200 million users globally, we empower consumers in their daily lives to act more environmentally friendly. Secondhand trade is an important contribution to sustainability as it avoids exploitation of natural resources, reduces waste and emissions. Let’s all agree that consuming with twice the intelligence is more likely in the nearest future than cutting back.

The heart of France

The heart of France

Set up in 2006, Leboncoin is a true online success. The marketplace has become a reflection of French society and a social phenomenon.

Leboncoin’s stats are impressive: 27 million classifieds posted and 26 million monthly unique visitors, making it the fourth most visited website in France, competing directly for audience figures with the giants of Silicon Valley (Google, Facebook and Youtube). When the team behind Leboncoin set up shop in France, it comprised all of two people, Olivier Aizac, former director, and one developer. “I was the director of…myself,” Olivier says ironically, remembering the infancy of a company which now counts more than 500 employees.

In order to recreate the Swedish website, Blocket, in the French style, they adopted a free listings model to stand out from the competition and aim for popular success by insisting on simplicity. “We didn’t want any barriers to entry,” Olivier explains and tells another story from the beginning: “Leboncoin was nearly called ‘chez Georgette’, after my grandmother, because I wanted to remind the team that we needed to come up with a website that even older people would be able to use.”

Proximity and popular appeal, then. The aim was to design a site that would appeal to every French family, and this is still the main priority today. Listings snowballed because they were free, user figures grew very quickly, and the site listed products that couldn’t be found elsewhere (ideally, local to the user) – the basis for long term success was in place. In 2008, already had four million monthly unique visitors; in 2017, there were 26 million unique visitors in total, 37 percent of the French population. “It’s one of the rare Internet success stories to have come from the grass roots, a site with mass appeal that has spread to all social strata,” says to Antoine Jouteau, current CEO. A bottom-up revolution, as opposed to a trend imposed “by geeks, mostly ABC+ and North American” as Antoine puts it.

A social phenomenon

Leboncoin became a reflection of French society, and turned into a vast public marketplace, which the big dailies had no hesitation in calling a social phenomenon. This did not escape the notice of politicians. When the company celebrated its tenth year in business in 2016 and moved to new premises (a splendid art deco building in the heart of Paris), President François Hollande was the guest of honour.

With its enormous user base, the site holds up a mirror to French purchasing habits, in a way that sometimes gives rise to new solutions. For example, in the depths of the economic crisis, users came up with a jobs section. In 2014, the team noticed that 60,000 businesses were recruiting up to 200,000 people on an ongoing basis. Since then, a dedicated category has been created, and last year 800,000 people found a job through Leboncoin, a fact Antoine Jouteau considers to be very empowering.

“Leboncoin became a reflection of French society”

Users are Leboncoin’s lifeblood and top priority; indeed, they are the cornerstone of the site’s economic model. These days most of the revenue is generated by paid options, known as freemium content. A business plan which has proved its worth, since it has now been adopted by the site’s other ­international versions. “Le bon coin means ‘a great place’ and it ­really is a great place for users,” Antoine points out. He smiles as he recalls users complaining that they couldn’t find a “hybrid” filter in the automobile category (one of the platform’s success stories, with 7.9 million visitors per month, making it the top car sales site in France). The team reacted fast and the missing category was created within a fortnight. Vocal requests for in-app instant messaging and a way of paying for transactions on the website? The former was one of the new features for September 2017 (following seven months of work, no less), and the latter is in development for 2018.

Today, Leboncoin has become part and parcel of new consumption trends, where secondhand is a purchasing choice. According to a 2016 study, 89 percent of its users choose it in order to make more responsible purchasing decisions. For Oliver, this is clearly an essential part of its success: “We no longer live in a disposable society, people have more awareness of transactions involving other individuals, they have woken up to mindful consumption.” As a knock-on effect, the secondhand trend has a positive impact on the environment (in terms of carbon dioxide savings), but also provides access to products that people can’t necessarily afford to buy new, such as smartphones. A virtuous effect, according to Antoine, which also plays a part in the site’s success.

All in all, Leboncoin has fulfilled its original ambition by becoming a meeting place like the village bistro after which it is named, where everyone stops by for their daily shot of caffeine.

Meet our people

Meet our people

Schibsted has more than 7000 employees all over the world, working in different areas and exploring new fields. Meeting some of them, will give you a closer idea of what Schibsted is all about.

“My colleagues help me learn and grow”

When she arrived in early 2016 she started from scratch, building a team working with natural languages processing (NLP) and image recognition. Now they’re part of realizing Schibsted as a tech-based company.

”It’s been a great experience doing this from start, and I get to work with exceptionally talented colleagues, who gives me the opportunity to learn and grow,” says Atelach Alemu Argaw.

The team builds state-of-the-art models and services, using data from users, and makes them available within Schibsted. “These reusable models, components and services can easily be plugged into various applications and relatively easily extended to new use cases and data.”

NLP is an AI-based technology aiming to get computers to understand how humans speak, or write. Atelach’s team has built a model for labeling the intent of a message. This means that you can understand when buyers at a marketplace are interested in an item that already has been sold, and assist the seller in answering them. When it comes to image processing the team has, for instance, made it possible to show similar items to buyers (turn the page to find out how it works).

“The really exciting thing will begin when we build models that combine text, images, meta data and user behavior. Then we will be able to improve the user experience, for example by making it easier to upload ads at our marketplaces.”

Name: Atelach Alemu Argaw. Position: Engineering director.
Years in Schibsted: Almost two. I’m excited about: Using our data and machine learning to enable our products which in turn empower our users.

Clicks turn into real user profiles

Delivering a good advertising experience, for both users and advertisers, is a tricky business. Tim van Kasteren and his team are building predictive data models, to help advertisers target the right audience.

“Let’s say we know the gender of a couple of thousand users. The predictive model uses machine learning to learn the correlation between the behavior on our sites and the gender of the user. We can then use that model to predict the gender for all of our users.”

At the moment the models are able to predict gender, age, location, interest and intent to look for a job.
“It’s really satisfying to see how individual clicks on our website end up being a complete user profile that helps us to connect advertisers and users in a relevant way.”

Name: Tim van Kasteren. Position: Senior Manager, Data Science.
Years in Schibsted: 3. I’m excited about: Getting the entire organization involved in using data about our users.

Young people want the device to do all the work

A simplified and quicker service, adapted to the modern user. This is what Kufar will become with the new Schibsted marketplace platform.

“Young people want the product and devices to do all the work,” says Tanya Lemesheva, product owner at the Belarus site. Bit by bit Kufar is transferring users to a new product, based on the new platform, and as they go along they give feedback to the developing team.

“Ad insertion will be easier, quicker and more intuitive. For instance you don’t need to choose category – it’s automatic, based on the photo. We will also use machine learning to detect users’ preferences, which means that we can give really good recommendations.”

Name: Tanya Lemesheva. Position: Head of Product, Kufar.
Years in Schibsted: 4. I’m excited about: Virtual reality and its potential.

“It’s great to build a new business”

In December 2016, Italy got a new service for comparing prices – Pagomeno. Tiziano Barbagallo is the new Country Manager, and he has reasons to be happy. We reached more than 500,000 visits when we launched and traffic is growing constantly each month.”

Word of mouth has been a big help to get consumers to know the new brand, Tiziano and his team get proof of this every day, following users’ comments in forums and blogs. Being a new player in Italy, there’s still things to work on, like defining a mobile and native app strategy and building a motivated team.

“It’s great to work with a new business from scratch and touch all the aspects of a company, like strategy, sales, marketing and customer support. And to be able to help people buy the right products and save money.”

Name: Tiziano Barbagallo. Position: Country Manager, Pagomeno.
Years in Schibsted: 4. I’m excited about: The opportunity to make a change in Italy’s competitive arena of price comparison industry.

”It’s like everyone owns the brand”

Avito has become a role model in Morocco. The marketplace is an inspiration to push market economy and for its culture, and not least, for reaching 6 million users each month in a country where people didn’t really sell old things. Zakaria ­Ghassouli became General Manager in July 2017, but he joined the company in 2012.

”Even though I’ve been here for quite some time, I started out as GM talking to everyone. I wanted to learn about their motivations and frustrations.” This is what the Avito culture is all about – openness and transparency, which has created engagement and involvement.

”It’s like everyone owns the brand.”
When he started, Zakaria got a classic question from his mother: ”When will you get a real job?” Marketplaces weren’t a known phenomenon and Moroccans were in the habit of keeping their stuff. Luckily they also like making good deals.

Avito is also driving change in a wider perspective.

”Large companies visit us to learn how to build a strong culture, be more agile and market-orientated.” At the moment Avito is implementing the new Schibsted marketplace platform, which will help them grow and control more of the value chain to reinforce their leading position.

”But just as important is to keep developing our offers. Right now we’re looking at vertical opportunities such as real estate and jobs.”

Name: Zakaria Ghassouli. Position: General Manager, Avito.
Years in Schibsted: 5. I’m excited about: Leading more than 100 inspiring colleagues in revolutionizing the digital ecosystem and help companies and individuals do business.

Blogging for advertisers

A blog with content for advertisers has been a great tool for Tori to build their B2B brand among Finnish advertisers and other target groups.

”Our brand is strong among users but we’re not that well known by advertisers, so we are working with content marketing to get in contact with them”, explains Laura Kuusela”. For instance Laura and her team made a handbook for digital marketing that has been very appreciated and that has worked as a tool for this B2B marketing.

“The most important thing is to know who you are doing it for, to follow your target group and then produce what is interesting to them.”
And it works. Advertisers like to discuss what they’ve been reading. “That’s a really good start for a conversation in a sales meeting.”

Name: Laura Kuusela. Position: Marketing Manager, B2B.
Years in Schibsted: 4. I’m excited about: Tori’s high-speed development.

An app to find your wine

Przemysław Potocki has learnt a lot about wines. As a software engineer he helped building an app that will enable Swedes to find the perfect wine to go with their dinner. The app was created for the Swedish company
Vinguiden and has a database with more than 500 parameters to describe the different wines.

“I had no idea that wines could be described in so many ways. And how important the soil is to the taste”. Przemysław is working in the so-called SEAL team at Schibsted’s tech hub in Gdansk, who has specialized in realizing different Schibsted projects fast and in a flexible manner, providing cross tech competences.

“The most challenging thing with this project was to make it easy for users to search. We had to combine all characteristics for each wine category into a database model.”

Name: Przemysław Potocki. Position: Software engineer.
Years in Schibsted: 1. I’m excited about: Technologies that have an impact on our daily life.

“We need to prioritize and experiment”

In September 2017 Schibsted made a re-organization where the two main businesses were turned into two divisions – ­Marketplaces and Media. Laila Dahlen is new Head of Product and UX Marketplaces and she is set on delivering good experiences for users and customers.
“People’s expectations of our products are increasing fast. We really need to understand our users and customers, prioritize their biggest problems, and experiment rapidly. Only then, can we create products that people love.”
Laila has been working at the Norwegian marketplace Finn for several years. Together with her extended new “family” she will focus on getting everyone on track with the common goals, by clear prioritizations and execution as a team.
“I will also bring quite a lot of energy – and some fun.”

Name: Laila Dahlen. Position: Head of Product and UX, Marketplaces.
Years in Schibsted: 6. I’m excited about: Creating marketplaces that help millions of people!

In May 2017 Frida Kvarnström was named one of the female leaders of the future, by the Swedish organization Ledarna. To her, transparency is crucial and she believes that engagement is contagious.

“You can be a leader without being a boss”

“I’ve always tried to be open, even in hard times. And to make sure that people around me are having a good time at work. It’s important to find motivation in all situations. But, in sales, where I come from, that can sometimes be a challenge.” Feedback from her teams has helped her develop as a leader.

“I think it’s important to dare to ask your team and colleagues about your achievements. It sets the culture. But you also have to make sure you’ve got the time to reflect on the input, to take the right actions.” Since being named a future leader, Frida has changed jobs, from Schibsted Sales and Inventory where she led a large team, to being part of team of seven people as Head of New Business Media in Schibsted Sweden.

“You can be a leader without being a boss. It’s about pushing collaboration and communication at high speed.”
She’s really enjoying her new job, ­although it’s also a bit scary. But perhaps not as scary as what’s awaiting her the day after we speak: to swim 3,000 meters in cold waters, as part of a challenge called

“A Swedish classic”.

“I’m bullheaded, it just needs to be done. And I love a challenge.”
There’s another trick:

“To smile a lot! Things happen in your body, when you do.”

Name: Frida Kvarnström. Position: Head of New Business Media.
Years in Schibsted: 7. I’m excited about: Being able to fly anywhere on earth in less than 60 minutes, in Elon Musk’s rocket ships.

Employees help solving customer’s pain points

In Spain customers’ input is improving the Schibsted sites. The Customer experience training program has led to that actual user pain points are addressed and fixed.

”The best thing is when I can tell a customer that we have solved his or her problem. That’s why I’m here,” says Hèrenia Casas.
In the program, employees in Schibsted Spain learn why people usually take contact, they listen in on customer service conversations and then they try to help solving issues.

”Almost 300 employees have been through the program and so far more than 50 improvements were made from input form users. Now other Schibsted companies are interested in following and Toyota and Ricoh have paid us visits too.”

Name: Herènia Casas. Position: Customer Experience Manager in Customer Care, Schibsted Spain.
Years in Schibsted: 13. I’m excited about: Providing a great customer experience in a customer-centric organization.

Connecting with the millennials

In Hungary Jófogás has made students’ breaks more comfortable – while at the same time making millennials realize that buying secondhand can be a good bargain.

“Millennials need very different communication, they absolutely ignore the regular communication tubes,” says Lilla Varju, Brand Manager at the marketplace.
To get to know and to reach younger users Lilla built really good relationships with some universities and as a result Jófogás installed living rooms at the campuses, decorated with furniture bought on the site. All the stuff had price tags comparing the secondhand cost with the cost of the same things new.

“I totally believe that personal connection is a great way to communicate with young people and I’ve experienced that they appreciate the care.”

Name: Lilla Varju. Position: Brand Manager, Jófogás.
Years in Schibsted: 3. I’m excited about: I would love to see Jófogás as a love-brand and the youth is the key to that.

Safe meeting points for marketplace users

Everything isn’t digital. Corotos in The Dominican Republic is improving the user experience, by offering 16 secure meeting points – in real life.

“According to our users, safety and reliability are huge factors when deciding if they will buy or sell on Corotos,” explains Coral Sánchez Camilo, Head of Marketing at the marketplace.
The idea is to offer sellers to drop off their items and store them at a convenient and secure location where buyers can pick them up.
The seller pays for the service and the item is stored for up to five days. To make this happen Corots is working with a courier.
This will also mean a new source of revenue for Corotos and hopefully even more items on the site will find new owners.

“Most importantly, we are addressing a real need among our users.”

Name: Coral Sánchez Camilo. Position: Marketing Manager, Corotos.
Years in Schibsted: 3. I’m excited about: Our cool and up-coming app!