Frédéric Maus (WSN): "In the world of fashion, 2022 will be the key year to capitalise on B2B marketplaces and omni-channels"

Given the uncertainty in the event world today, it is difficult to predict whether B2B trade shows will be held in 2022. What is certain, however, is that digital trade shows and B2B marketplaces will bring new opportunities throughout the year. Trend analysis and advice from Frédéric Maus, Managing Director of WSN.

 

Fashion: the 4 trends that will shape 2022

1 – The COVID pandemic has already saved textile companies 7 years in their digital transformation.

This is what explained Marie Dupin of Nelly Rodi during the Role Model Day of the Fédération Française de Prêt à Porter held on December 7, 2021. Let’s also remember, as Clarisse Reille (Director General of DEFI La Mode de France) did, that digital technology impacts not only sales but also logistics and the very heart of the customer experience. Digital technology will therefore continue to grow rapidly in 2022 and for many years to come.

2 – “Think Global Act Local ” is the challenge for 2022 and future years for stakeholders in the fashion industry.

Some organisations, like WSN and Comexposium, have already succeeded in reconciling this international dimension with local management, and indeed this has already been the philosophy of Webhelp Payment Services for more than 30 years. As for Impact, WSN’s sustainable and committed trade show event launched in 2019, its international success proves its raison d ‘être.

3 – In B2B, omni-channel options are no longer an option, they’re a must.

Let’s look at what has happened in B2C: we have all adopted omni-channel options, i.e. the ability to at any time choose the sales or communication channel that best suits us (shop, brand website, instant messaging, email, phone call, etc.). This flexibility of operation and quality of customer experience are gaining vast amounts of ground in B2B practices… and we have everything to gain from it!

4 – Trade shows will develop along 2 different dimensions: physical and digital.

Of course, it would be wrong to believe that digital trade shows will simply replace physical ones in the fashion industry! But it would be a bigger mistake not to take full advantage – 24/7, 365 days a year – of the incredible opportunities and facilities provided by digital trade shows like WSN and the Comexposium platform.
It’s important to clarify that this is why at WSN, unlike our competitors, we conceptualise the physical trade show as an extension of our digital trade show (to do the opposite would be rather short-sighted!).

 

My 4 tips for taking advantage of the opportunities of 2022… and staying in the race

 

1 – Don’t choose between physical and digital trade shows: enjoy the best of both worlds.

Whether you are a buyer or a seller, it is counter-productive to see “physical trade shows” and “digital trade shows” as competitors: you do different things in each, and you do these different things at different times. Both abound in opportunities, so why deprive yourself of one or the other?
At physical trade shows, you will be able to create and maintain trusting relationships with your contacts, and of course view and touch the collections. Afterwards, outside the physical trade shows, you will be able to exploit the buying and selling opportunities that are available to you 24/7 all year round. When checking out the opportunities available on these platforms, start small and then increase your ambitions step by step.
Illustration with a typical journey for a buyer: locating a brand on the platform, organising a visit to the trade show, then finalising sales, deliveries, and payments on the platform.

2 – Move towards a sales model that makes your cash flow smoother.

Do we really need to emphasise this? Cash flow is the lifeblood of fashion. On this crucial point, platforms provide a powerful and proven solution: the complete digitalisation of financing and payments.
Let’s take an example, on the buyer’s side: I identify a brand and products that interest me; I ask for and obtain the corresponding financing; I finalize my orders and my payments on the platform; I sell my products; I pay the financial intermediary on the due date.
Just as a reminder, a payment intermediary such as Webhelp Payment Services has been providing such services for over 30 years, both nationally and internationally, and works in partnership with WSN and Comexposium.

3 – Reduce your inventory problems.

Here again, the situation has not changed: inventory management carries a major risk in the fashion sector. To protect yourself against this risk, staggering your orders and payments is good practice.
Platforms like WSN and Comexposium are designed to optimise this spread by finding the one that suits you best, all year-round.
In short, inventory is expensive and is harmful for the company as well as for the planet. But there are solutions!
Thanks to platforms, it is possible – and easy – to improve inventory management, to replenish part of your range quickly, and even test new types of products in a flexible and agile way, all with very limited financial risk and a reduced ecological impact. It is up to you to find the best mix to optimise your business.

4 – In your stores, test the “concept-storisation”.

In France and elsewhere, the trend is to expand the range of products on sale: hence the concept stores where we find fashion, food, sports goods, etc.A platform like that of Comexposium greatly facilitates the creation of a “winning mix”. Buyers and sellers of fashion items, food, and sports goods already use the platform. And in 2022 optical items, lingerie, and many other categories will be added.With the concept store, there is therefore a uniqueness of the goods on offer, at a given place. This opens up the possibility of trialling certain categories and sometimes responding to specific inventory problems.

In short, in 2022, pandemic or no pandemic, fashion buyers and sellers will be able to develop their business, sometimes at physical trade shows, sometimes on digital platforms. The latter will enable you to reduce financial risks and costs, inventories, organisational constraints, and the environmental impact of your business. Who would still want to deprive themselves of this?

 

Frédric Maus

 

In figures…

  • WSN, the global leader in B2B fashion shows with 32 years of experience, works with the top 150,000 retail locations worldwide. In 2019, WSN successfully launched Impact and in 2020 resumed the Traffic trade show dedicated to innovations and solutions for fashion brands and distributors.
  • With more than 35 years of experience in fashion and luxury goods, Webhelp Payment Services supports nearly 1,000 brands across a network of 35,000 stores in Europe and North America.

 

 

 

 

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Virtual Infrastructure: The super-car powering technology control automation

Kelvin Middleton, Webhelp’s Chief Technology Officer, outlines the benefits – and risks of virtualisation in business growth.


There is no denying the importance that businesses put on technology in-fulfilling their strategic objectives. For many industries and businesses, technology advancements have been accelerated by COVID-19 in line with the fourth industrial revolution (industry 4.0). This is coupled with cyber and resilience risk, which continues to be an increasing focus for businesses, governments, regulators and consumers.

Virtualisation is a key component for all businesses looking to advance their offering, and ensure that they have robust and modern technology to meet their user needs.


What is virtual infrastructure?

Traditionally, IT infrastructure has been made up of a collection of physical resources like servers, routers and firewalls. Virtualisation refers to the transition of these from physical resources to software, a virtual representation of its former self. So instead of a piece of hardware only performing one dedicated task you can now run lots of virtual instances on the same hardware all performing different tasks simultaneously.

Virtualisation is not a new technology – its history reaches back to the sixties – but as you look at this technology over the decades you see changes and improvements coupled with leaps in hardware manufacturing and software development. What once required significant upfront investment in decentralised and complex compute, network and storage infrastructures can now be achieved using inexpensive commodity hardware. This hardware centralises the infrastructure into modular blocks of compute, network and storage, which can be easily expanded over time. Welcome the hyper-converged revolution of the noughties.

Real world application and benefits vary, but one of the original considerations surrounded cost optimisation, allowing businesses to  fully utilise the infrastructure capacity by making it perform more than one task at once. However, as incremental improvements in hardware and software were developed over time then virtualisation came to include enhanced redundancy, security, scalability, and reliability, each with their own pros and cons. As a result, business value realisation moved beyond optimising the IT budget and into the territory of providing competitor differentiation, and therefore increased revenues. As an example, consider the reduction in manufacturing times due to shorter R&D lifecycles, owing to the increased capability that virtualisation can provide.

In more recent years, virtualisation has expanded to include that which once required dedicated and/or specialist hardware, such as a network router, firewall and even telephone system. Now, however, even these components can be deployed virtually, which can massively reduce a business’ latency in change activities without compromising on reliability.


Risk

Like any technology, virtualisation comes with risks as well as benefits. Omit upskilling and investing in your engineers to ensure they know how to support new technologies, and you risk poor implementation, downtime and compromised security.

One potential pitfall is borne from the usual budget challenges targeting technology teams to do more with less – one of the selling points to virtualisation. Push this to an extreme, however, and you risk stacking the deck too narrowly, with virtual workloads operating on too few physical points of redundancy, so the cost of failure is extreme. Businesses need to strike the right balance of cost optimisation vs. redundancy.

Another concern businesses should evaluate and plan for is the security of an environment. With physical servers your attack surface could be dispersed, difficult to find, and therefore difficult to access. In the virtual world, the command-and-control plane can see, touch and destroy it all.  Role-based access controls, multifactor authentication and data protection toolchains are the staples of today.

Cost management is another factor to consider in the world of virtualisation. People and process has traditionally always been the go-to for ensuring the controls are in place to manage growth, and therefore cost risk. But virtualisation has given businesses the opportunity to automate controls in the environment. Consider a new software development project which is able to simply, easily and programmatically create new virtual servers to provide the capacity needed to host a new project. Without the appropriate controls and governance in place, the self-serve benefits virtualisation enables can easily turn into a runaway train of infrastructure utilisation and unplanned expenditure.


The future

Old complex technology infrastructure is no longer adequate for modern businesses that need the agility and flexibility to execute change at pace. Virtual infrastructure is a key player in this space. Smart organisations will understand the need to strike a balance between investing for the future and delivering current priorities. Strategic changes to technology infrastructure must be addressed, providing businesses with the potential for scalability – making it easy to react quickly and safely deliver seamless solutions that really make an impact for their clients and customers.

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Black Friday, reliability and attractiveness the key components for your online strategy

Black Friday, known as an American consumer tradition and one of the busiest shopping holidays of the year.

This event is traditionally known for shoppers to line the streets, waiting for stores to open the day after Thanksgiving to pick-up what they hope will be the bargain of a lifetime. In recent years, Black Friday, closely followed by Cyber Monday, has now transpired and  adopted across several other parts of the world.

In the mainstream media, Black Friday is typically represented by crowded scenes of over-excited and frustrated shoppers, fighting it out for that last item on the shelf and taking items from each other’s shopping cart. Over the last few years, many retail activities have shifted online. This shift to digital platforms has steadily grown, and due to 2020 events, this has skyrocketed. Many retailers online are even starting promotions early to gain traction to their platform and the opportunity to retain customer loyalty.

According to Adobe, in 2019 US Black Friday online sales beat all previous records, at an astonishing $7.4bn, up from $6.2bn in 2018. CNBC reported that Cyber Monday was an even bigger day for online shopping than Black Friday, with sales totaling $9.2bn, up 16.9% on 2018. From 2019 to 2020, sales increased by a further 22% to a record astonishing $9bn.

Integrated omnichannel experience

It’s not hard to imagine that the momentum will persist, and Black Friday will drive even more customers onto their phones, tablets, or laptops. Businesses now attempt to avoid crowded in-store events, to safeguard their customers in the COVID era and simply follow this trend we have observed over a number of years now. Doing so without losing retail sales must go through a strong Digital Content strategy to meet customer demands and ensure an integrated omnichannel experience.

Consumers have become intrinsically used to shopping from the warmth of their home, therefore a successful Black Friday via online channels is something all retailers are hoping for. To ensure a successful campaign, it is key businesses content strategy is aligned with those ambitions and consumers expectations.

Managing content to attract and convert customers

Attracting consumers with the right content against the competition and ads that are displayed to them, requires a streamlined catalog management process. This ensures online users land on a well-managed platform, with a catalog that shows the right promotions and the right products for them. That being said, following your marketplace’s guidelines and ensuring a smooth and homogeneous experience are key challenges for conversion and retention.

At Webhelp, we are fully prepared for this event. We have a highly successful track record of managing peak demand in terms of partner onboarding for the international retail and logistics brands we support.

Case study: leading online e-commerce and marketplace platform in Turkey

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Behind the scenes, this success hinges on an incredible amount of preparation and hard work from our team of experts, and of course close collaboration with our clients, supported by our strong processes and sourcing capabilities in finding the right, specialized resources.

 

Technology and expertise combined

Every year leading up to the peak period, we create an exciting atmosphere to support and motivate our talented experts. We focus on motivation and ensure we reward people for their hard work. Along with the energy and commitment of our teams, technology and adaptability also plays a huge part to ensure we offer a smooth and seamless experience for our partners and their customers.

The skills and expertise that our teams have shown by quickly reacting in order to prepare for key events in a retailer’s calendar year, is reflected in the highly positive feedback that we receive from our client partners. This year is no exception as Black Friday and Cyber Monday will create added pressures for the retail and logistics sectors where our teams continually provide a game-changing experience. Our talent, global footprint and stable infrastructures are capable of efficiently creating success for our clients by providing their customers with an exceptional online shopping experience.


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Thomas Japy

Digital Content Services Business Analyst

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Buy now pay later

B2B - Buy Now Pay Later, a new payment standard: 4 ways to stand out

Buy now pay later

Now is the time! The opportunities offered by Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) appear to be massive for B2B. When offering their payment methods, platforms and marketplaces should choose to stand out from the rest, as recommended by Meriem Ouenniche, Client Solution Manager at Webhelp Payment Services.

This is no longer simply an option, it’s a standard: Buy Now Pay Later is experiencing exponential growth in the area of B2B. It is noted that this credit purchase option has been offered in e-commerce and B2C marketplaces for years by fintechs such as Younited Credit or Klarna, who are now transposing their solutions to B2B. Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) allows marketplace operators, sellers and buyers to access deferred payment solutions.
But is this not “merely” a new credit option? Here are the arguments suggesting that this phenomenon deserves to be looked at more closely:

– It is true that credit is nothing new in B2B commerce, but we are conscious of a new desire on the part of Buyers and Sellers for a solution that is perfectly integrated with the shopping experience. This “way of thinking” comes as no surprise: millennials represent a significant part of the workforce in companies, and 73% of them are involved in B2B purchasing decisions*. As keen supporters of B2C purchases on ultra-optimised platforms (eBay, Amazon, Cdiscount, etc.), they aren’t ready to give up this quality of experience in the workplace.

– From the perspective of Sellers and the business platform, BNPL is seen as an opportunity to increase the value of the average basket, to enhance customer involvement and loyalty, to reduce financial risks and to focus on the business and growth rather than on payments.

– From the Buyers’ perspective, VSEs and SMEs are a very receptive target for the benefits offered by BNPL, as long as the operations and formalities are straightforward and fast. These companies are looking for more flexible and less restrictive alternatives to the credit solutions offered by conventional banks.

4 ways to stand out with BNPL

In a context of rapid change it would seem appropriate to offer Buy Now Pay Later in the following 4 areas of differentiation:

1) You need to offer a highly personalized shopping and payment experience

The buyers must feel understood, listened to, and that their preferred payment methods are taken into account. Analytics and AI seem to be particularly relevant in this new purchasing ecosystem, thanks to their ability to personalise the customer experience.

2) Your payment solution should make it possible for the seller to be paid more quickly (instant pay out) and for the buyer to pay on the payment date that suits them (which may differ from the one proposed by the seller)

Scoring plays an essential role in the analysis and evaluation of the buyer’s profile in order to define the appropriate credit line and thus limit the risk of non-payment.

3) Your payment solution needs to be fully integrated, fluid and seamless

In contrast, a complex payment experience will, in the long run, prove to be a deal breaker. This shows the importance of continuous, dynamic improvement of the user experience (UX).

4) Your payment solution needs to be comprehensive and flexible

To meet new market demands, it is recommended to offer BNPL solutions in order to support B2B marketplaces in their growth and diversification of their offer.
As a PSP (payment service provider), Webhelp Payment Services covers the entire spectrum of B2B payment services through a scalable offer adapted to the client’s needs: scoring, onboarding of buyers & sellers, pay in / out, white label invoicing, dunning, debt collection, credit insurance, BNPL, etc.

 

*According to a report published by Merit.

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car_dealership

Protect dealers and buyers on secondhand car platforms

Detecting fraud requires a combination of human expertise and technology.

car_dealership

Secondhand cars have seen considerable growth since 2020. With used-car retailers using digitalization to make their offerings more attractive on their platforms: from photos to video demonstrations, states Motor Intelligence.

With car dealers and private sellers uploading content, it’s vital these platforms provide a safe and seamless journey for customers. This requires a balance of technology and human intervention to manage the journey at each step.

This paper looks at some of the pain points on secondhand car platforms, key industry insights, and how Webhelp can offer a comprehensive and game changing solution with experts in digital services.

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Author

Thomas Japy

Digital Content Services Business Analyst

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Africa

Webhelp: Setting the agenda for BPO CX in Africa

Africa: A continent of near-limitless opportunity for a range of customer experience outsourcing services – but without an informed market entry and execution strategy, a place where global brands can severely damage their reputation.  

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As the pandemic disrupts established offshoring locations in Asia Pacific, global brands are assessing and ramping up alternative offshore sourcing locations within AfricaThe C-suite recognize that the continent offers a clear route to maximizing business continuity and minimizing risk, while systematically reducing operational costs, and achieving a more balanced distribution of customer engagements associated with high quality outcomes.  

We have understood the opportunities well – having grown from a single market entry position on the continent in Morocco, to the current team of over 25,000 people working across seven African countries, serving both English and French language needs, providing CX management services in multiple industries, including automotive, e-commerce, FMCG, retail, airlines and oil and gas. We also continue to learn from these extensive engagements – using insights to optimise market entry strategies.

Webhelp is now one of the biggest customer experience management firms within Africa, but it has taken us 20 years, and a deep level of understanding of all the specific and different nuances associated with each and every country in which we operate in Africa today.  

 As the second largest continent in the world, Africa is home to over 1.2 billion people and makes up 20% of the earth’s surface. It’s home to extreme wealth, obscene poverty, and everything in between – with widely varying levels of political stability and infrastructure availability. It’s vital that brands which are now considering adding Africa to their sourcing portfolio’s view the continent as a long-term, integral part of their business strategy. Most multi-nationals recognize that while critical, the actual delivery of customer experience management is not their core business, and they need support with creating and implementing human experiences in a digital world. In our experience, brands must also balance responsible business, leveraged opportunities, and risks, in order to succeed within Africa.

Responsible Business

Within Africa, young people account for 60% of those who are unemployed, according to the World Bank. Areas hit hardest included Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal, and South Africa. As a leading global CX services provider in Africa, with an extensive global footprint, we recognize that we’re uniquely placed to offer employment opportunities and to tackle the social divides resulting from  these high levels of unemployment. So, we’ve created a bespoke and scalable Impact Sourcing Model for unemployed youth, to deliver social reform systematically through all our CX outsourcing work in Egypt, the Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Morocco, Senegal, and South Africa.

Young African man

In South Africa for example, we work in partnership with Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator – a world-renowned not-for-profit social enterprise – as well as multiple governments and customers, using a model for inclusive youth hiring at scale. Through all our contracts, we provide  formal work readiness training, including, jobs, and professional call centre qualifications, to young people aged 18-35 who are at risk of long-term unemployment and economic exclusion.  In addition, we provide bespoke programmes designed to maximize understanding of the sectors in which our clients operate, such as retail. This approach accelerates time to competence, and we are seeing young people thrive in their careers with Webhelp. We are also seeing remarkable outcomes being delivered for our clients’ customers.

So far, in partnership with Harambee, we have supported hundreds of excluded and unemployed young people into career opportunities with Webhelp, either through jobs, or work placements, and we have a firm commitment to increase numbers every year.

Having said that, as a business striving to deliver world class customer experience outcomes, we know that we can’t enter new countries with a ‘cookie cutter’ approach. We were one of the first companies to work directly with our customers in customizing and configuring our Impact Sourcing methods to meet the specific needs and objectives of their businesses.

In terms of talent management, Webhelp South Africa has also partnered with the University of Stellenbosch Business School to launch a leadership diversity programme. By combining formal education with career experience, we can create an equitable pipeline of skilled and talented future leaders. Social value aside, I cannot overstate that we won’t work anywhere in the world without first fulfilling our responsibility to carry out extensive due diligence on countries which we, or our clients, are considering as a place for new business or offshore expansion. 

Our expert team rigorously scrutinize each and every country’s standards in terms of political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal (PESTLE) criteria. We use this insight, alongside guidance from the UN, World Bank, and World Health Organisation to ‘score’ each country under consideration for new business. We then deploy a team of subject matter experts who spend time in the country surveying the local labour markets, salary levels and recruitment, before getting all our insights validated by teams of people based within the target country.  

Only when evidence shows that a country meets our high standards on ethics, compliance, and operations, will we consider designing the best way for us and our clients to work there.

Opportunities

With 60% of the population aged under 25, Africa is set to have the biggest number of consumers globally – backed by steadily increasing education levels, improving infrastructure, and a dynamic start-up business culture. Soon, brands will have access to an abundance of highly motivated and skilled people, who due to their emerging global status as consumers, have a unique understanding of the importance of CX.

Young African muslim lady

Not only that, but right now, brands considering investment in Africa can benefit from a myriad of funding opportunities. Many governments across the continent award significant grants to firms which can deliver positive social outcomes – which is one of the reasons why South Africa has been voted the most favoured offshore CX delivery location by Ryan Strategic Advisory. There is also significant funding available through organizations like the Rockefeller Foundation, and the World Trade Organization. 

We encourage competition in Africa because it drives performance. We’re not only looking to build our own business here – we’re looking to develop the whole CX industry in the regions in which we operate. As more and more brands commit to the continent as a key part of their go-to market strategy, we’re expecting to see second, third and fourth generation businesses open up opportunities for local suppliers to gain a foothold into the formal economy, driving economic growth. That means even more momentum on investment, and greater social value within African countries. 

Companies which thrive in Africa now will gain a huge competitive advantage in the long-term.  

Risk

But for every opportunity in Africa, there’s also a potential risk.  

While infrastructure is improving, it’s generally still behind more established offshoring locations, and standards vary widely between countries, so it’s smart to pre-empt potential challenges in terms of telephony and communications. Further, in a continent with historic issues relating to debt, brands may also need to be alert to, and navigate away from, potential corruption issues, as well as the potential mismanagement and misappropriation of African aid. 

It all means that Africa is not a go-to destination for any brands seeking a ‘quick win.’ Firms don’t scale here by luck – they succeed by designing and implementing robust operating models, due diligence and governance, appropriate sourcing, investment back into the available capabilities, and nurturing a pipeline of management talent.  

The operating model we use in Africa, and across the world, is Webhelp Anywhere – a system which enables clients to standardise excellence at any location in a way that’s bespoke to the needs of their business, with a focus on six key pillars – talent, engagement, performance, technology, security, and resilience. We also deploy specialist teams, comprising global and local talent, into new countries to support the set-up and establishment of new services, the combined effect brings assurance to this process. 

Finally, I’d urge any firms considering their operating model strategy, entry into new territories, and business operations, to talk to brands like Webhelp, which have already overcome these challenges and established a presence in a number of countries in Africa. Leaders can save a lot of hassle by getting advice on how and where to invest, avoid pitfalls, and fulfil social value in a country with infinite opportunity.  

About the author

Craig Gibson

Craig Gibson, grew up in South Africa, was educated at Durban Technikon in South Africa and helped to develop the first major contact centre BPO offshore model in South Africa – working across the US, Middle East, UK, Europe and Africa.

A business he started in South Africa was later acquired by Webhelp, which accelerated his work to bridge the social divide in communities in which the company makes investments with its clients, alongside delivering world-class outcomes for them.

Today Craig leads the Webhelp Group’s growth efforts, working with clients to address their customer management needs, he lives in London.

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Fashion and ready-to-wear: 3 tips to help you make the most of the economic recovery

A quick analysis of the fashion and ready-to-wear market, plus 3 tips from Bertrand Mahon, VP Operation Logbox at Webhelp Payment Services, whose credit management network covers 35,000 shops and more than 400 brands; a unique economic vantage point.

What a lovely surprise! Back in autumn 2020, who would have placed any bets on the fashion and ready-to-wear sector being back up and running? So many bankruptcies, outstanding debts, mass unemployment, disaffected consumers… the media was dominated by grim predictions. And yet here we are in autumn 2021, and the indicators are pretty positive… excellent even: at Webhelp Payment Services, we’re even breaking records – our monthly sales figures for September 2021 are the best since our company was founded, in 1984!

Without claiming to replace the pollsters, our “surface area” means that we really understand these markets: we manage more than 400 brands and 35,000 ready-to-wear shops in Europe and the United States, as well as department stores and online retailers. In 2021, we expect to manage more than 600,000 invoices, equivalent to 1.3 billion EUR.

Based on this, we can say today that wholesale distribution networks in Europe & the United States have weathered the storm – no doubt due to the exceptional financial support that has been offered, and thanks to the fact that brands have managed to restructure some of their debts. And we can attest to the fact that the current levels of debts and disputes are neither extraordinary nor worrying.

A general picture that is totally different from the catastrophic situation in 2008-2009, for example. This time, the market has been managed well – that’s our first observation.

Digital players have benefited from the health crisis

Our second observation will be less surprising: digital players have been able to take advantage of a period during which in-store stopping was prohibited or limited. In addition, many department stores – and even retailers – were able to develop their online sales channel quickly. In the end, the sector sped up its digital transformation, and so new buyers were recruited. But the wholesale market has still done well in this complicated, competitive environment.

Admittedly, overall, we are not yet seeing the same levels of activity as “before”, in other words in 2019, but everything is pointing towards the fact that there is some new momentum, and that it would be a good idea to make the most of that.

For 2021, according to a study carried out by Euler Hermes, a partner of Webhelp Payment Services, a rebound of +14% is expected in the turnover of French textiles and clothing, but we won’t be going back to pre-crisis levels before 2023. As for marketplaces, they grew by +27%, so twice as fast as in 2019 (according to Fevad).

Let’s allow ourselves to dream a little: what if 2022 were to surpass the performance we saw in 2019? If you spend some time at trade shows, and according to our clients, that idea isn’t as crazy as it might seem!

Tip #1: don’t be timid

Faced with this new momentum, it’s a good idea not to hold back. During the crisis, brands and the wholesale market protected themselves from risk, including in particular by reducing the number of models or collections.
Now, we need to turn over a new leaf and get away from this “crisis mentality” that holds initiatives back. Although some supply chains have been disrupted, a return to normal is falling into place. And consumers – who have saved a lot of money in Europe – are rediscovering the desire to treat themselves, to step out of the gloom and even to build a better world.
Brands that are more daring will win market share. This is backed up by the spectacular growth seen in ethical, second-hand and eco-friendly fashion.

Tip #2: watch out for signs of impending failure

We know that there are some warning signs before a shop or a retailer defaults. That’s why we advise our clients to watch out for “weak signals” that indicate a potential breakdown. In particular, levels of debt and disputes should be closely monitored!

To that end, we have created indicators, alert thresholds and procedures to detect and mitigate financial risks.

Tip #3: take national and international payment practices into account

Our extensive experience of national and international markets backs up this advice – the crisis hasn’t changed anything in this area: you need to take into account the specific characteristics and payment habits of each country or economic area. The desire to impose “unique conditions”, with exactly the same payment deadline for all European countries, for example, runs the risk of significantly penalising your business.

To sum up, Webhelp Payment Services has unique quantitative and qualitative information: we have local bases and have been pooling millions of pieces of data from brands and stores for more than 30 years. That means that we understand what really happens with payments, depending on the stakeholders and the countries, in real time. This customer knowledge is a key asset when it comes to making the most of the recovery that lies ahead.

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Webhelp Appoints Co-CEO of Digital Content Services

Webhelp Appoints Paul Danter Co-CEO of Digital Content Services to Lead Expansion in the Americas

PARIS — October 5, 2021 — Webhelp, a leading global provider of customer experience (CX) and business solutions, has announced the appointment of Paul Danter as Co-Chief Executive Officer of Digital Content Services (DCS). In this new role jointly leading the global DCS practice alongside Chloe de Mont-Serrat, Paul will be responsible for developing Webhelp’s digital content services business to support U.S. clients with services, including content management and moderation, digital activation, and data annotation.

Webhelp’s growth strategy includes expanding its service offerings to support new and existing clients in the U.S., where many of the leading tech companies operate. These services are especially valuable for platform businesses that are responsible for millions of customers’ data and digital experiences.

A seasoned professional with experience in software development and digital services, Paul most recently served as the CEO of RWS Moravia, the fastest-growing company in translation and localization, where he worked with many of the largest technology companies in the world. Before Moravia, Paul worked in the converging areas of content and mobile, where he joined forces with technology leaders, media companies, publishers and broadcasters, as they evolved to support their digital audiences.

Paul shared why he’s excited to join Webhelp, “I first met the Webhelp management team a few years ago and was impressed with what they were building and how they were doing it. It was clear Webhelp’s enviable culture played a huge role in driving phenomenal growth and success. I could sense the company’s spark was driven by an exciting team and strong leadership, and I knew that I wanted to be a part of it.”

“Since then, I’ve worked with companies to provide seamless digital customer journeys and look forward to using this knowledge to drive truly transformational change for our clients. I am incredibly proud to be part of the Webhelp family and am excited to design and deliver unforgettable human experiences in today’s digital landscape.”

“I am very pleased to welcome Paul to the team and look forward to co-leading the digital content services business across the Webhelp group. His extensive knowledge and expertise in the digital space will no doubt play a pivotal role in accelerating the growth of the business and especially in the U.S.,” said Chloe de Mont-Serrat, Webhelp’s Co-CEO of Digital Content Services.

“I’m thrilled that Paul has joined the team during such an exciting period as we are expanding our reach in the U.S. and continue to strengthen our digital and technology-driven customer experience offering. Paul will also play a role in developing new areas of the business to expand our offering and capability. This is an exciting step for the DCS practice, and I am truly delighted to welcome Paul into the Webhelp family,” commented Sandrine Asseraf, Group Managing Director, Webhelp Americas.

About Webhelp

Webhelp designs, delivers, and optimizes unforgettable human experiences for today’s digital world – creating game-changing customer journeys. From sales to service, content moderation to credit management, Webhelp is an end-to-end partner across all B2C and B2B customer journeys. Its 90,000 passionate employees across more than 50 countries thrive on making a difference for the world’s most exciting brands. Webhelp is currently owned by its management and Groupe Bruxelles Lambert (Euronext: GBLB), a leading global investment holding, as of November 2019.

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Disruption can and will happen: the importance of resilience by design

Anthony Sinclair, Director of Resilience & Property, and Yee-Ping Pang, Head of Design & Development, investigate how organisations can learn to not only accept the need to build resilience, but to embrace it as a way to achieve greater customer satisfaction.


Over the last 18 months, Covid-19 has taught us that disruption can come in many forms, and that just because it hasn’t happened yet, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

Disruption has many faces, from restricted access to company spaces, to the impact of isolation on productivity. One important lesson for organisations to take away from the pandemic is this –  never underestimate the importance of resilience.

A PWC 2021 Global Crisis Survey reported that seven out of 10 organisations reported plans to increase their investment in building resilience. This can only be a positive that will contribute to more resilient businesses and provide minimal disruptions for customers.


What is resilience by design?

Resilience has traditionally been backloaded, in the form of Business continuity plans and recovery. Resilience by design shifts this focus to the forefront of product and service design, and ensures that resilience is considered part of the entire change life cycle.

Using a Resilience by design model applies to everything a business does – from designing, delivering and maintaining a new telephony platform, to sourcing a new office location.


The resilience by design model

There are three key pillars that support Resilience by Design – Organisational Resilience, Cyber Resilience, and Infrastructure Resilience.

Organisational Resilience

The business can react to change from a people capability, and from a governance and agility perspective

Cyber Resilience

The business can proactively defend and react to cyber attacks

Infrastructure Resilience

The business has the ability to navigate and protect against external threats

 

All three pillars must be resilient to keep a business running effectively, delivering reliable products or services that don’t impact on the customer experience. In a world where digital transformation has been accelerated as a consequence of COVID-19, all three of these key pillars of resilience by design have been put to the test.

Questions such as ‘How can we ensure our colleagues can work from home?’ and ‘Do we have enough network capacity to enable everyone to do their roles from home’ are examples aligned to one of the resilience by design pillars, and no doubt have been asked by multiple people across different organisations.

The most resilient businesses have a lens on resilience across the entirety of their organisation, through the operating principles of resilience. The controls that are embedded in these businesses start from anticipation of potential threats and disruptions, to designing robust playbooks to react to scenarios, all the way to recovering if something does go wrong. The culture in these businesses is one of continuous observation, refinement and improvement on these controls, to ensure they are operationally resilient and work in practice, not just in theory.

Resilience by Design cannot be static – there are constant evolutions needed to adapt to changes in the environment, both internal and external. At the centre of it all is the willingness to adapt, and this starts with the recognition within your business of resilience as a key strategic initiative.


Conclusion

Disruption is an inevitability in everything we do – in this regard, the impact of the pandemic has simply shone a light on the importance of resilience. Although not many businesses would have ever anticipated such a large scale disruption, those who are able to adapt and learn from this to embed a culture of resilience by design will most successfully be able to support their clients and customers. Resilience should no longer be seen as simply a bolt on at the final stages, or as a Business Continuity Plan (BCP), but as a key cornerstone in the design of operating models and solutions across all businesses.

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Mode paiement

[Fashion] - 4 tips to make payments easier and more secure in Europe and the US

Mode paiement



For fashion brands, the European and United States markets are strategically very important. But there are some risks when it comes to payments, especially with department stores and e-commerce sites. Anke Glaser, General Manager of Webhelp Payment Services for Central Europe, offers some advice.

 

1. Fashion brands should make the most of the momentum driven by departments stores and e-commerce sites

Over the last 2 or 3 years – and especially since the health crisis – online sales have really flourished in the fashion industry, both in Europe and in the United States. This growth is mainly due to department stores, which already have a digital strategy, and e-commerce platforms.

This trend is explained by companies investing more and more in digital technology generally – in England, spending on websites and online sales platforms went up by 30% in one year. In the United States, department stores can account for up to 70% of suppliers’ turnover. We can also see this trend in Spain where the leading Spanish department store has made its digital development a major focus in its development strategy.

We therefore recommend taking full advantage of this momentum, driven by departments stores and e-commerce sites, because we think it’s one that is going to last!
However, while digital strategies are undeniably seeing a surge, we remain convinced that the physical component is still vital, and that the crisis will lead to an offering that combines human and digital solutions.

2. Protect yourself against the problem of deduction

Brands have to comply with the conditions imposed by department stores and e-commerce platforms, which generally have very strict rules, at the risk of having to deal with chargebacks. In practice, whichever country you’re in, department stores and platforms rarely make a payment for just one invoice. Usually, they send us a payment advice: a document summarising all the invoices to be paid. Added to these are debit notes or chargebacks that are deducted from the payments. For a brand, it is important to be aware that these practices, which can be for many different reasons, are widespread.

Webhelp Payment Services manages debit notes directly for department stores and platforms. We check them, as agreed with the brand, and if the deductions are not totally justified, we dispute them with the department store or the platform. Our regular contact with the stores and platforms means that we can speed up the processes and so resolve any disputes faster.

Every year, this work by our experts, dedicated exclusively to managing these key accounts, helps our clients’ brands recover substantial amounts of money, as well as giving them a clear overview of the buyer’s current situation.
The benefit: if the Order to Cash process is under control, those involved in distribution generally pay on time.

3. Know how to manage the complexity of accounting documents for department stores and e-commerce platforms and avoid mistakes

Each season, brands receive documents with a lot of items to reconcile, from department stores and platforms. This involves a considerable amount of work for their accountants!

We have developed a specific reconciliation and comparison tool for documents that come from department stores and platforms. It makes the accounts much easier to understand, and means we can analyse the source of chargebacks.

Our dedicated customer platform allows clients to find all the information and all the payments in one place. It is here, for example, that any deductions will be clearly shown. This document provides a good basis for the interaction between us, the brand, and the department store or e-commerce platform.

4. Digitise your data exchanges

The relationship between department stores, platforms, and sellers is also going digital. Implementing this digital process is really useful when it comes to optimising your cash flow with these different stakeholders. Indeed, in addition to the speed of transmission via EDI, it also means that you can check to make sure that invoices have been received, and act promptly if the invoice is rejected or incomplete. This means we can reduce delays to invoice payments, but also lots of chargebacks that might not be due.

We are currently working on setting up EDI with the many department stores and e-platforms so that we can offer our clients simple, unique access, whilst also relieving them of the technical work specific to each buyer. Why not take advantage of it?

 

With 35 years of experience in fashion and luxury, Webhelp Payment Services can be both a personal advisor and a facilitator, not only for department stores and e-commerce platforms, but also for retail distribution. We are currently working with 400 ready-to-wear brands with a network of 35,000 stores in Europe and the United States.

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