Product review: Pinduoduo

Pinduoduo is China’s second largest shopping app; the company has only been around for 5 years but is already following closely on the heels of Alibaba which dominates the Chinese market through apps like JD.com and Taobao. For me there are four aspects of Pinduoduo’s product and proposition which make it stand out: team purchase, mini games, daily check-ins, and price chopping.

Team purchase

Pinduoduo adds a new spin on ‘social commerce’ motivating customers to form teams around a desired product. Consumers from groups in order to receive discounts directly from supplier. Pinduoduo users can proactively create an audience for a product that they want to buy or join an existing team. This all happens on relevant social media platforms, mostly on WeChat which is China’s most popular messaging app. The network effect thus created around a product or brand, driven by the customer, naturally carries a great appeal for suppliers and Pinduoduo’s customer-to-merchant (‘C2M’) model.

 

From: Pinduoduo

Alternatively, customers can buy a product individually and pay a higher price for the product compared to when they’d joined a team. In the example below, the user can buy this infant formula as an individual shopper for ¥59 (about 8 USD), or they can for a team with other shoppers and get it for ¥35.5 (5 USD) instead.

 

From: Clark Boyd on Medium

 

Mini games

Another social element of Pinduoduo’s app is the heavy focus on multi-player games. Take ‘Toto Orchard’ below as a good example.

 

From: UI Sources

The inclusion of games to kill time or play with others is not a groundbreaking concept. What I find interesting is the direct link with shopping and rewards. For example, see ‘Duo Duo Orchard’ below, which feels like Farmville except that players will receive real physical products as rewards

The game is simple: A user creates and nurtures a virtual fruit tree until it yields a real box of fruit, which would then be shipped to their address. The more they shop, the more water droplets they receive to grow their tree. Duo Duo Orchard now has more than 11 million daily active users.

From: Pinduoduo

Daily check-ins

Simple but effective. By clicking on the daily check-in icon, a user starts accumulating rewards. The rewards each time are small, but like all rewards they do add up 🙂 and I can see how checking-in can become a habit for Pinduoduo users.

Price Chopping to Zero

As long as you get a big enough team it’s even possible to get a specific product for free. If a user goes to the price chop section in the app, they can select products that they want to get for free, which will set of 24-hour timer. Within this timeframe, the user must then share the product link with as many friends as possible. The way it works is that each friend who clicks on the link, the person who started the chain will get a discount, with this user only getting the product for free if the price has been driven down to zero within 24 hours.

From: Pinduoduo

Main learning point: In this brief review I’ve deliberately not explored potential downside of their product and proposition, such as stimulating addictive behaviours or promoting counterfeit goods. Instead, I’ve mostly zoomed in the social aspects of Pinduoduo’s ecommerce model since some of these aspects haven’t permeated more ‘traditional’ ecommerce models yet in my view.

Related links for further learning:

  1. https://www.techinasia.com/pinduoduo-rise-social-ecommerce
  2. https://techcrunch.com/2018/07/26/the-incredible-rise-of-pinduoduo/
  3. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/22/what-is-pinduoduo-chinese-ecommerce-rival-to-alibaba.html
  4. https://www.voguebusiness.com/consumers/lessons-on-chinese-shopper-from-discount-app
  5. https://www.sekkeistudio.com/blog/pinduoduo/
  6. https://www.uisources.com/china/pinduoduo
  7. https://blog.lengow.com/pinduoduo-chinese-ecommerce-platform/
  8. https://medium.com/@clarkboyd/pinduoduo-everything-you-need-to-know-about-pdd-chinas-third-biggest-ecommerce-site-38ac42086e47

App review: Forest

My quick summary of Forest before using the app – I think I first heard Nir Eyal, who specialises in consumer psychology, talk about Forest. Given that Nir mentioned the app, I can imagine Forest impacts people behaviour, helping them achieve specific outcomes.

How does Forest explain itself in the first minute? – “Stay focused, be presented” is Forest’s strap line which I see first. This strap line is followed swiftly followed by a screen that says “Plant a Tree” and explains that “Whenever you want to focus on your work, plant trees.” This suggests to me that Forest is an app which aims to help people focus on their work and eradicate all kinds of distractions.

How does Forest work? – The app first explains its purpose in a number of nicely designed explanatory screens.

After clicking “Go”, I land on a screen where I can adjust time; presumably the time during which I want to focus and avoid any interruptions.

I set the time at 10 minutes and click “Plant”. I love how, as the time progresses, the messages at the top of the screen keep alternating, from “Don’t look at me!” to “Don’t look at me!” to “Hang in there!” Nice messages to help keep me focus and not fall prey to checking my phone. At any stage, I can opt to “Give up” which presumably means that the tree that I’ve been planting – through staying focused – will be killed.

I’m motivated to see this through and plant my first tree. When I complete my 10 minutes of uninterrupted time, I expect to see a nice tree right at the end of it. Try and imagine my disappointment when I don’t see a tree but instead am encouraged to create a Forest account.

Did Forest deliver on my expectations? – I can see how Forest helps people to focus and avoid checking their phone constantly. Just want to explore the gamification element of the app a bit more.

App review: Vipps

I’m always on the lookout for new payment apps and I recently came across Vipps. Vipps is a Norwegian peer to peer payments app, currently only available to Norwegian users.

Fig. 1 – Screenshot of Vipps – Taken from: https://www.vipps.no/

These are the main things I’ve learned about Vipps:

  1. Use the recipient’s mobile number – Similar to the way the likes of Monzo and Uber work, with the Vipps app all you need is the mobile number of the recipient. If you need to send money to someone else, your friend needs to download the Vipps app and the amount will be sent to his/her account registered with Vipps. Select the person you want to pay from your phone’s contact list or enter their mobile number.
  2. Use Vipps to split bills – For example, when you’re eating out with a group of friends, you can ask your friends for money when splitting the bill. Create a group name – e.g. Nando’s on Friday – and add the names of the group members. Now people in your group can enter all expenses that are to be shared between the group members. Once all the amounts have been entered and everyone has confirmed that there are no more outlays, it is easy to see who owes what.
  3. Personal account registered with Vipps – Vipps doesn’t have it’s own current account. Instead, users can send money through Vipps from any Norwegian bank, provided that they have a bank debit card and a bank account with the bank in question.
  4. Getting started with Vipps – To be able to use Vipps, users need to enter a Norwegian national identity number, a Norwegian mobile number, the details of their payment card (Visa or MasterCard), their Norwegian bank account number and an email address. Once you’ve created a four digit code, you can start paying or receiving money. When logging into Vipps, you can use your personal code or Touch ID.
  5. Vipps’ charges – Vipps doesn’t charge for amounts below NOK 5 000. For payments of NOK 5 000 or above, the charge is 1 per cent of the total amount. There is no charge for receiving money.

Main learning point: Love how apps like Vipps are making it easier and easier for people to pay and receive money. The splitting bills functionality is very welcome!

Vipps 3

Fig. 2 – Vipps’ peer-to-peer payments – Taken from: http://anti.as/news/vipps-by-dnb

Vipps 4

Fig. 3 – Screenshot of Vipps’ Android app; making a payment – Taken from: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=no.dnb.vipps

Vipps 5

Fig. 4 – Screenshot of Vipps’ iOSapp; selecting a contact or a company that you want to pay – Taken from: https://www.appannie.com/en/apps/ios/app/vipps-by-dnb/

Related links for further learning:

  1. https://www.vipps.no/
  2. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/vipps-by-dnb/id984380185?mt=8
  3. https://www.finextra.com/newsarticle/30131/dnb-spins-off-vipps-mobile-payment-service
  4. http://anti.as/projects/vipps-by-dnb
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vipps
  6. http://www.lifeinnorway.net/living/money/mobile-payments/
  7. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=no.dnb.vipps&hl=en_GB
  8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Mx5lsfs2d0
  9. https://www.vipps.no/vilkar.html
  10. https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/store/p/vipps-by-dnb/9nblgggz9jv1

App review – Qapital

As my readers might know by now, I’m always on the lookout for new apps or any other technology innovations that provide a simple but great customer experience. I think I’ve found another one in Qapital, an app that enables people to “Save small” and Live large.” The app lets people make small savings in an automated fashion. Qapital makes it easy to create (1) saving goals and (2) set up rules to trigger deposits into one’s Qapital account (see Fig. 1 below).

Fig. 1 – Qapital user interfaces – Taken from: https://letstalkpayments.com/keep-lookout-amazing-pfm-app/

qapital_01-1024x501

These are the main components of the Qapital app:

  1. Choose a Goal – User can set monetary Goals through the Qapital app. Unfortunately, the Qapital app isn’t available in the UK yet, so I couldn’t set up a Goal through the app. However, once you download the Qapital app, users can set their own saving goal or select one of Qapital’s pre-selected goals.
  2. Create a Rule – Qapital users can create Rules to managing their saving habits. Rules are events that trigger the Qapial app to transfer money fro a user’s linked account to their Qapital account. For example, if you find yourself spending a lot of money on guilty pleasures like tech gadgets or trendy trainers, you can set up your own “Guilty Please Rule” (see Fig. 2 – 3 below).
  3. Connect to IFTTT – Users can link their Qapital account to their everyday (online) activities through IFTTT. IFTTT is a free web-based services that enables users to create “recipes”, which are simple conditional “If This Then That” statements. These statements are triggered based on changes in services such Gmail, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest (see Fig. 4 below).

Main learning point: I love how Qapital encourages people to save and makes it very easy to do so! Call it gamification or jusr great user experience, Qapital has created a very compelling proposition and product in my view.

Fig. 2 – Screenshot saving Rules on Qapital’s app – Taken from: http://www.tested.com/tech/android/564019-google-play-app-roundup-qapital-dub-dash-and-evo-explores/

qapital-2

 

Fig. 3 – Rules that users can create on Qapital – Taken from: https://www.qapital.com/how-it-works

  • The guilty pleasure rule – This Rule has been design to help users curb their spending habits. If you feel that you really gotta have it, you can create a Rule to save a set amount when you give in to your guilty pleasure.
  • The spend less rule – Users can decide on a cap for how much they want to spend in one place, and they can then challenge themselves to spend less than that. When you come in under budget, the remaining amount is automatically to sent to a user’s Goal.
  • The roundup rule –  This Rile lets users round up their change every time they make a purchase with their card linked to their Qapital account. Qapital’s average user saves $44 each month with this Rule.

Fig. 4 – Connecting users’ Qapital accounts to their online actvities – Taken from: https://ifttt.com/p/qapital/shared

screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-07-49-34

Related links for further learning: 

  1. http://www.advisoryhq.com/articles/qapital-review/
  2. https://ifttt.com/p/qapital/shared
  3. https://ifttt.com/qapital
  4. http://www.ourfreakingbudget.com/qapital-app-review/
  5. http://www.americanbanker.com/news/bank-technology/can-mobile-apps-prod-millennials-to-save-this-startup-thinks-so-1073121-1.html

Learning more about EdTech (2)

A few days ago I wrote about some popular apps within the educational space and I’d now like to focus more on some of the current (technology) trends within the “EdTech” space:

  1. Shift from ‘asset based learning’ to ‘continuous learning’ – We’re already seeing a shift away from the traditional educational model – where learning happens through courses or certificates and has a defined endpoint. John Seely Brown, in a talk called Cultivating the Entrepreneurial Learner in the 21st Century describes this traditional model as an ‘asset-based’ approach. Instead, we’re starting to treat learning as a lifelong process consisting of deliberate practices aimed at constantly getting better. I can imagine that this will have a significant impact on educational technology. For example, learning might become more of a ‘playful’ activity and something which is ‘consumed’ much more on ‘pick and mix’ basis rather than the more linear approach that we’re used to.
  2. Subscription learning – Some trend watchers have been predicting a model where for example universities do much more than just providing you with academic content. It’s about creating a “full stack” model whereby the education provider becomes a school, recruiter, a lender and an employer, all merged into one. This could mean that students have a lifelong relationship with their university, coming back to it as their career and their professional skills evolve.
  3. Combining adaptive learning and competency based learning – The combination of a student picking up some specific competencies (‘competency based learning’) at a pace and in a format tailored to the individual (‘adaptive learning’) is something that technology can well facilitate. I believe this will be one of the biggest trends to watch in the EdTech space over the coming years. As a simple example, I’m currently doing a UX Design course online where I can work through the modules at my own pace and go over specific aspects with my tutor, who I Skype with once a week.
  4. Gamification in educationGamification, as the concept around motivation and rewards, will continue to have an impact on education. The channel through which you access the educational content becomes secondary, it’s all about the ways in which people the subject matter is presented to people and how hooked they become. As a result, learning effectively becomes an ongoing habit (see my point about ‘continuous learning’ above). A good example is Lifesaver which is a prize winning campaign that combines interactivity, live-action film footage and time based decision making activities to teach CPR on your tablet, smartphone or computer.
  5. Enable ‘flipped learning’ – Flipped learning is an approach whereby students watch lectures and read related content online, and then go to a physical classroom to do their homework, under the personal instruction and guidance of teachers. The underlying idea here is that it will increase student engagement levels, both in and out of class.
  6. Bring Your Own Device – The ‘BOYD’ approach builds on the reality that a lot of students already bring their own devices to school and use them for their own needs. Rather than trying to constrain the educational approach and content to a single device or operating system, the idea here is that the content should be device agnostic. I’m sure that over time the technology will get better at ironing out scalability, security and compatibility issues, but BOYD taps into the reality of students having their preferred devices and ways of working.

Main learning point: It feels like there’s a lot of opportunity for innovation and transformation within the educational space. It will be interesting to see at what pace this change will take place and its impact on our education.

 

 

E-Learning-Video-img1

Image taken from: http://www.videojeeves.com/blog/e-learning-for-kids/

Related links for further learning:

  1. https://medium.com/towards-a-remarkable-career/on-building-a-daily-habit-of-continuous-learning-82ef77a8aff9
  2. http://www.fastcompany.com/3020758/leadership-now/why-deliberate-practice-is-the-only-way-to-keep-getting-better
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massive_open_online_course
  4. https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/L-and-D-Blog/2014/07/Stuck-in-An-E-Learning-Box-Try-Subscription-Learning
  5. http://blog.ouseful.info/2015/08/27/student-for-life-a-lifelong-learning-relationship-with-your-university-or-linked-in/
  6. http://er.educause.edu/articles/2015/8/data-technology-and-the-great-unbundling-of-higher-education
  7. http://elearningindustry.com/5-killer-examples-gamified-elearning
  8. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/flipped-learning-lets-talk-tech-jon-bergmann
  9. http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2015/06/iste-2015-6-tech-trends-educations-horizon-2015-2020
  10. http://www.k12blueprint.com/byod