Mom’s the Word: edamama Growth Story So Far

Moderator: Saurabh Madan – VP, SEA, ANZ & Japan – MoEngage

Bela Gupta D’Souza – Founder – edamama

Bela Gupta D’Souza: How is everyone doing today? I hope you’re looking forward to today’s session. I’m here to share a little bit about edamama, our growth story and how we actually work with MoEngage. As an e-commerce omnichannel retail brand that’s about two and a half years old in the Philippines, I wanted to start off by saying, we work with a lot of different partners in the ecosystem, as is the case with most retail businesses. And one of the things that truly makes me proud to be here today is, we really do feel like MoEngage is a very strategic partner to our business. It gives me a lot of pride to see your success in this market. So congratulations to Saurabh and the MoEngage team. We’re really happy to see your growth here.

I’m here to talk to you a little bit about our journey. My journey as a founder, how we got started, what were the pain points really that we were solving for. I wanted to quickly start by seeing how many parents we have in the audience, show of hands? Okay quite a few, that’s great. So a little bit about edamama, right.

02:10 – The Journey of edamama

Our mission is quite simple. We’re here to help mothers simplify decision making and find everyday joy in parenting. The way we want to do this is really by simplifying their lives as when it comes to consuming content, whether it’s purchasing services and products online, or it’s building community experiences for mothers that makes their lives a lot simpler.

And my story in building this company started with a personal pain point that I experienced. So I’ve been living and working in the Philippines for a decade now. I have two children, a nine year old and a four year old. I’ve been in the tech space for a long time, building startups for other people.

But the inspiration for edamama really came knocking at my doorstep quite literally. This would be early 2018, I was looking to purchase a tricycle for one of my kids. I went onto one of the online platforms here in the Philippines. I looked at my options, I typed tricycle and I looked at the different listings there and I found something that looks quite similar to this item here on the screen.

It seemed like a legitimate seller and so I checked out, paid a good price for it and waited for my order to arrive. I was really looking forward to this experience but lo and behold, this is a rendition of what really showed up at my doorstep.

I exaggerate a little bit, but really what I got was a box of nuts and bolts. There was no manual, it was thrown out because clearly it wasn’t a language that I would not have understood. It was upon me as a customer to assemble this product, figure out how to do it and then use it.

I got there eventually, took a few more people to assemble this product and when I saw the final product, I felt it wasn’t actually safe to put my child on it. So I decided not to continue with the product and I wanted to return it. I tried to contact the seller, I tried to contact the platform, no response. I just wasn’t able to return this, so it became a bit of a write off for me, so I just decided not to use the product. But it dawned on me in that moment, how underserved we are as customers. If you think about the Filipino landscape, mothers are really at the heart of a household.

This is a matriarchal society. We, at the center of decision making when it comes to products and services, we are really trusted by our own family members to bring the right products into our home. And we really care about safety and product and all of these considerations, trustworthiness of products in addition to the price.

04:52 – Identifying the Pain Points

We’re super users of the internet. When you have a baby for the first time, the time and money that you spend online really makes you a very active digital consumer. But the journey online is really broken and it boiled down to these four things, right? Firstly, a very fragmented experience, and this is not just my experience with shopping online, but in general when it comes to accessing content, community commerce experiences online, it’s really fragmented. You go to multiple platforms to get everything that you’re looking for. Quality and trust concerns, I mentioned this already, you want to make sure that the products that you’re buying for your children are not just safe and trustworthy, but you also get a good price for them.

The third is, search led shopping. The assumption is that we will all go to a search bar on a shopping platform and type what we need. But parenting is really a discovery led experience. Deciding what product you want to buy is a function of a problem or a pain point or a symptom or information that you’re seeking, which actually leads you to the product that you’re looking for.

And finally, customer service. Those of us who have lived in the Philippines know, probably through our own experience as customers. We’ve all had those frustrating moments with businesses and brands, customer facing brands where service is really lip service and there’s a lot more that can be done to really understand the pain points and needs and preferences of customers and going out of your way to really delight your customers.

And so keeping those things in mind, I realized I wasn’t alone. Hundreds of thousands of mothers feel the same way. And this really came to light when we launched our platform. So, we took edamama live in May of 2020. It just so happens that this was at a time where Philippines was experiencing one of the world’s most strict lockdowns.

We’ve all been there. So it was a time where mothers were already feeling quite insecure, worried about the future, trying to protect their homes and their families. So we were really able to offer an essential service to parents at that time. We definitely feel very fortunate in a way that we could build our company and our brand at a time where there was a great need for it.

But you know, really taking a step back and thinking of this opportunity more broadly. I talked a little bit about the pain points. It’s a fragmented experience, product safety, quality concerns, but really juxtaposing against that is the opportunity that we see for the Philippines.

So firstly, we are one of the fastest growing e-commerce markets, not just in the region, but in the world today. It took a pandemic perhaps to trigger that inflection point for the Philippines. But if you look at the stats, the internet economy in the Philippines is going to be about a $40 billion industry by 2025. And e-commerce as a contribution to that is at about 65%. So $26 billion, right? So very high potential for e-commerce in the Philippines given that we are the second most populated country in Southeast Asia. Very young, very digitally savvy, very social media savvy market. So it was only a matter of time before e-commerce really caught up.

You see a lot of homegrown e-commerce brands around the region for e-commerce. There’s none in the Philippines today. You just have sort of the large marketplaces, but a very exciting opportunity for e-commerce as a whole and the pandemic has meant that a lot of customers have come to trust online for their purchasing decisions. Also very exciting for us is a market in which there’s still a strong growth rate in terms of families having children. Many countries around the world are experiencing negative population growth. The Philippines actually has amongst the highest baby and under 14 population in the region.

We definitely were very excited about not just solving for the problems and pain points of mothers in the Philippines but we also recognize the big opportunity that we have to serve this market. So the way I really like to think about it is that mothers are not only really powerful consumers, they are incredibly powerful influencers and storytellers. For the moms in the audience or the dads, you would probably relate to this. We increasingly look to online to seek out answers, informations. We are befriending a virtual tribe of mom friends or dad friends to help us make product and purchasing decisions.

So, we’re not only really shifting to online to make purchasing decisions, but we’re very comfortable even sharing our own journey, our own problems, our own sort of stories in the field of parenting with each other. So, recognizing both the consumption potential as well as the contribution potential of parents, we set out to build at edamama.

So this is a quick overview of what our platform looks like. We’re really trying to reimagine online shopping from the perspective of mothers, so that meant we had to really take away all of the assumptions we had about what it means to build an e-commerce business that is truly customer focused.

So we wanted to build something firstly that was not very cluttered. We wanted to focus on safe, reliable, authentic products only so much so that every brand that we onboard on the platform today is personally vetted by our merchandizing team. The philosophy for us is if we wouldn’t use it on our own children, we won’t sell it on the platform.

We have a lot of focus on curation and personalization. So from the time you create a profile on the app, you see a personalized feed for product recommendations. We really believe in the power of personalization and I’m gonna come back to talk about this point in particular and how we’re actually using a platform like MoEngage to actually serve that purpose.

A lot of innovations on the platform that were first for us in the Philippines – we were the first to launch diaper subscription in this country. We also have a gift registry feature, we have a rewards and loyalty program. So it’s really a very customer driven approach to product development, recognizing what it is that our customers are really looking for in their browsing experience.

So this is a quick overview of our traction. As I mentioned, we went live in May of 2020, we’re now a toddler in the market. On the back of the pandemic, we were able to really grow our business a hundred X in top line growth. Since we launched, we have over 60,000 products today on the platform.

We’ve delivered 2 million products across doorsteps in the Philippines and counting. We continue to grow very strong. We’ve seen no slowdown in demand, even though the pandemic has subsided and we’re very excited to continue to bring our value added services to our community of mothers.

So hundreds of thousands of mothers across the country today have come to trust and love our personalized shopping experience, supported by our strong focus on content and community. My background is actually in digital marketing. So prior to doing edamama, I was the founder and CEO of AdSpark Philippines.

I don’t know if some of you have heard of AdSpark. So I got to ride that wave when the Philippines was just starting to adopt digital marketing spending. A lot of marketers in the room, you will remember that around 2011, 2012 is when a lot of ad budgets started shifting towards digital.

And I think we all recognize the pandemic has made paid marketing even more expensive. It is still an essential part of building a brand, acquiring customers and building loyalty. But we have come to recognize that for our platform, content and community are more powerful tools that we can use to really drive that discovery led approach to shopping that I was talking about, as well as building trust and loyalty and retention in our business and I’ll talk a little bit more about how we’re doing that.

12:55 – The Power of Personalization

So I want to come back to what I was mentioning earlier about the power of personalization. This is so important, to show our customers that beyond saying hello Saurabh, as he was talking about earlier, we have understood what they’re looking for, what their history is, what they might be interested in next.

And if we are to stay true to our mission to help mothers simplify decision making, then personalization is a very key aspect of that. So this is just a quick overview of how we personalize both from a product standpoint as well as from a merchandizing content and community standpoint.

We make personalization the heart of a lot of decision making that we do, as a business, both from a product standpoint as well as how do we build out our CRM, our merchandizing, as well as the content that we’re serving to our community. This is so important because it’s a lot more cost effective in the long run to invest in personalization than it will be to just constantly focus and depend on paid marketing as a strategy to retain customers. Because at the core of personalization is going to be very strong retention in your business. It’s a lot more cost effective to retain a customer than it is to acquire one. So if you’re thinking about personalization, our experience with it is that it’s really powerful.

We’re only getting started, we’re scratching the surface ourselves in terms of how deep we want to go with this. We’re really excited about leveraging tools like MoEngage to really drive that home for us.

The second part, which I was mentioning earlier, is content and community.

14:36 – Investing in Content and Community Pillars

We really believe that parenting is a discovery led experience to shopping and so we have been investing a lot in not just doing promos and discounts and sales and focusing on just the shopping aspects of our platform. But if you have the edamama app, you will notice we really invested in content and community pillars.

So it looks like a one stop platform for mothers to not just find products and services, but also to be informed, to be educated, to be inspired through content and community experiences. We have a private social network now on our app. We’ve launched it just a couple of months ago. We’re already seeing incredibly high engagement, within that of moms seeking and helping each other out.

Going back to my point about moms being very powerful storytellers, there’s a lot of sharing in this network that we find is really helping us build our brand and our loyalty. We also have a very strong focus on content. We have a lot of articles, videos that we create on a daily basis to help moms at every stage of parenting. Not just pregnancy, actually all the way up to even preteen years.

And we are also investing a lot in user generated content. Every mother has a story to share and is keen to build journals or keepsakes where they can record stories from their parenting journey. And so we’re actually also building out a pregnancy tracking feature and a journal which will allow our users to really document all aspects of their journey.

So these are really about investing in tech and product, features that allow for the flow of information, ideas and inspiration for your community. And I think for any customer facing brand, this is not just for us. I would say for any brand in the room that is focused on being consumer focused, invest in content, invest in community and that will really pay off in the long run. Think of the SEO potential if you’re really invested in content and on the community side, one of the really interesting aspects of building this out is it really serves even as a customer support channel for you.

It allows you to experience network effects in your business. So really, a lot of reasons to go deep in content and community as well.

16:56 – Partnership with MoEngage

Moving on to MoEngage, we recognized when we started out that we definitely were investing in personalization, we were investing in different marketing tools.

I really want to talk firstly about all the things that we tried before we got to MoEngage. I’m truly up here because I genuinely feel we have found a partner to work with that really understands the importance we place on personalization and driving a very analytics driven approach to marketing that has a very robust solution.

We tried out, I would say two to three platforms and we were quite frustrated with that process. We felt like we had fully utilized the offering of that platform and we were still not finished in terms of what we were looking for. To reach and better connect and communicate and retain our customers.

And so what MoEngage has really allowed us to do is firstly bring all our data together. Because e-commerce, for us at least, is a very data metrics driven business. At the heart of what we do is being able to execute on the data that we have about what it is that people are looking for.

So I think consolidation of data and then being able to analyze it and then customize marketing messages from there was a really key aspect of what we set out to do. What makes it really convenient for us is that all of these different channels and outlets are possible through one platform. So we don’t have to work with multiple vendors to integrate everything for us.

We sort of have this one stop solution for the business. We hope that MoEngage will give us Messenger as a platform soon, because WhatsApp is not so big in this market. Viber and Messenger are two things that we’d love to see on the platform for us. So we came on board maybe I’d say about three to four months ago.

We’re quite new to the partnership, but we’re already seeing really great traction. We’ve done about 250 campaigns already on MoEngage and we’re already seeing really strong uplifts in terms of traction. So over 100,000 new active users on the platform, a 27% increase in engagement on our platform and a 70% increase in new customer growth.

And we’re really only getting started. The thing about this platform is that we’re still learning so much. We’re still scratching the tip of the iceberg. We’re actually having to educate ourselves on the full scale and potential. That’s how deep really, the extent and depth of the platform really is for us.

Just to summarize, as we think about making personalization at the core of what we do and given our focus on driving discovery led shopping experiences for our business, we’re really excited to be able to partner with a company that really understands that.

So, that’s it. I hope that was helpful in whatever way and I’ll be happy to answer any questions. Thank you.

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