Subscription Economy Ushers in Age of Relationship Commerce, Rendering Legacy Commerce Applications Built Around the Shopping Cart to be Obsolete
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – September 19, 2013
- Today at its annual Subscribed 2013 conference, Zuora, the subscription commerce, billing and finance leader, announced its latest release of the Z-Business platform. This release includes Z-Commerce NextGen, the next generation of Zuora’s Z-Commerce application, built upon a new foundation that powers relationship commerce in the Subscription Economy.
- Since its invention in 1937, the shopping cart has remained a long-standing symbol of commerce around the world. Even digital e-commerce – which today represents 8% of all commerce – is centered on delivering a shopping cart experience online.
- But, as more and more companies across different industries shift to a subscription business model, their success depends on building and nurturing customer relationships.
- In this age of relationship commerce, the shopping cart experience does not meet the complex and changing needs of subscription companies, which now require new ways to build relationships built around consumption, time, and the dynamic nature of transactions.
- Z-Commerce is a core part of Zuora’s Z-Business platform, the backbone of the most innovative subscription companies. Z-Business includes Z-Commerce, Z-Billing and Z-Finance.
Subscription Economy Ushers in Age of Relationship Commerce
For almost a hundred years, the shopping cart has been the defining symbol of modern commerce, serving as the tool used by consumers as they purchased things at physical stores. The rise of digital commerce over the past few decades simply took the shopping cart experience and recast it online. Buy once, check out and leave.
This paradigm is breaking as consumers are shifting more of their purchases to subscriptions. Unlike in a product economy – where the success and growth of a business depended upon producing and shipping more SKUs – in the Subscription Economy, the success and growth of a business depends upon building and nurturing valuable customer relationships through offering access to services. Subscription services offer businesses new dimensions upon which to build relationships that create value for the customer and value for the business, including:
- Consumption: The ability to monetize levels of consumption so that consumers only pay for what they use.
- Time: In the product economy, consumers owned products forever, whereas in the Subscription Economy, consumers want the opportunity to access services for varying lengths of time, depending upon their needs.
- Change: In the product economy, a sale was the only kind of transaction possible. The Subscription Economy offers subscribers the ability to constantly change their subscriptions to suit their needs, resulting in additional kinds of transactions like add-ons, upgrades, downgrades, suspensions, renewals, and so on.
- Channel: Businesses in the Subscription Economy increasingly manage subscriber relationships across multiple devices and channels. These channels create new opportunities for them to increase the value of the services they offer.
Commerce Engines Built Around a Shopping Cart Don’t Work in the Era of Relationship Commerce
Traditional commerce applications built upon a shopping cart foundation are prone to break down in this new world and face serious limitations.
- Since the relationship with the consumer ends at checkout, these systems can’t monetize post-sale consumption such as pay-per-use models;
- These systems were designed with the assumption that a transaction was one-time and ownership perpetual, and do not work for time-based offerings of subscription services;
- These systems were only designed for an initial sale, return or exchange; however, the changing nature of subscriber relationships involves continual upgrades, downgrades, renewals, cancellations, etc.;
- These systems are typically designed for a single channel (i.e., for web-based or B2C sales), and fail to enable commerce in a multi-channel B2Any world.
Legacy Commerce Applications Curtail Growth in Subscription Businesses
The limitations of commerce engines built on a shopping cart foundation place barriers to growth for businesses in the Subscription Economy. Just a few examples of the impediments include:
- Lost revenue opportunities: businesses are unable to monetize time, consumption or access levels;
- Expensive IT projects: businesses struggle to retrofit traditional commerce applications to meet the complex demands of commerce in the Subscription Economy;
- Exponential increases in time to market: businesses launching new pricing models find that they heavily dependent on IT resources;
- Disjointed customer experiences: Traditional commerce applications built on a shopping cart can only handle single channel commerce, whereas subscription businesses need to offer true multi-channel commerce experiences.
Z-Commerce NextGen Displaces “Shopping Cart Commerce” with Relationship Commerce
Zuora today announced the release of its Z-Commerce NextGen, the next generation of Zuora’s Z-Commerce application, built to power the commerce of relationships. Built on a new foundation that overcomes the limitations of traditional commerce engines, Z-Commerce NextGen includes:
- Relationship order management to manage the subscriber lifecycle
- Ability to manage the complete commerce lifecycle, including upgrades, downgrades, add-ons, renewals or cancellations across any channel;
- MRR and TCV calculations to track the changing value of relationships through the customer lifecycle.
- Multi-channel enablement to support both B2B and B2C commerce across multiple channels, platforms and devices
- Native integration with salesforce.com to enable assisted selling and web commerce across all salesforce applications;
- REST APIs for rapid deployment of storefronts and customer self-service portals;
- Java and Ruby SDK libraries to accelerate web deployments.
- Configurability tools to enable rapid deployment of tailored commerce experiences
- Ability to add or remove fields, rearrange page sections, change lists and tables, and control page layouts by leveraging reusable components with just a few clicks;
- New components like product selector, billing account selector, and list components that can be deployed on any page within salesforce.com;
- Secure payment capture screens to accelerate cash collections and decrease DSO;
- Discount overrides to enable multiple discount levels and discount periods.
- A subscription pricing engine that supports infinite models of subscription monetization
- Multiple charge models that support creative monetization strategies that drive growth.
- Zuora for Salesforce to manage all aspects of relationship commerce on the salesforce.com platform, including:
- Subscription quoting tools that enable a seamless quote-to-cash experience from the sales front office to the billing and finance operations back office;
- Visibiliity into subscriptions, invoices, payments and refunds in salesforce.com to power lists, dashboards and workflows;
- Access to subscription metrics like MRR, DMRR, TCV, DTCV in salesforce.com;
- Configurations tools to enable rapid configuration of new and existing pages with clicks not code;
- Turbo Sync: 20-50X improvements in sync times for customers that sync large amounts of data from Zuora to salesforce.com.
Z-Billing and Z-Finance: Market Leading Engines Keep Getting Better
Along with Z-Commerce, two other applications Z-Billing and Z-Finance complete Zuora’s flagship subscription management product: Z-Business.
Z-Billing is the revolutionary market-leading billing engine that has enabled over 500 subscription businesses to run lights-out billing and payment processes over the past five years. With this release, the best subscription billing engine extends its lead with significant scalability improvements, additional invoice presentment options, additional payment exception handling tools, and more visibility and insights into billing data.
In 2012, Zuora announced the availability of Z-Finance. Z-Finance includes accounting close tools, revenue recognition management, summary journal entries and role-based security. In the Subscribed 2013 release, Z-Finance emerges as a” subscription subledger” with new features that deliver deeper accounting alignment, additional revenue reporting and enhanced revenue recognition tools.
“Commerce has become a largely impersonal and transactional experience, becoming a roadblock to deep customer relationships and long-term growth,” said Tien Tzuo, CEO, Zuora. “As buyers shift more towards subscription models, the shopping cart becomes irrelevant. Today, we’re empowering companies to go beyond the shopping cart with the launch of Z-Commerce NextGen, a modern-day commerce engine that brings the relationship back to the experience.
“The flexibility and ease-of-use of Z-Commerce NextGen has allowed us to launch breakthrough reporting features and a new pricing model for our online employee training platform in record time,” said Donna Wells, CEO, Mindflash. “We were able to keep our developers 100% focused on enhancing our product because, with Zuora, we could shift our pricing plans virtually overnight with no engineering work required. As a result we launched the new value-added offering months earlier than we otherwise could have… and started capturing significantly higher revenue sooner as well.”
“It is crucial to our business that we keep large volumes of data in sync between Zuora and Salesforce, giving our front office staff complete visibility into key subscriber data and metrics within Salesforce. With the release of Z-Commerce NextGen, we’ve seen our sync times drop from 5 hours to 5 minutes. This is a significant gain for TripAdvisor and a clear indication that Zuora is committed to delivering enterprise-grade scalability and performance,” said Steve Moran, Senior Director of Operations, TripAdvisor.
“The new Z-Commerce NextGen REST APIs now give us a simpler and faster way to connect Zuora to our online commerce experience and business intelligence engine. REST has quickly become the de facto protocol for web APIs,” said Ned Bryant, Vice President of Application Development, FireHost. “It’s great to partner with a company like Zuora that is not just a leader in cloud billing, but also recognizes this trend and has responded to it.
Zuora will demonstrate its new Z-Commerce NextGen at the Subscribed 2013 event September 19 and 20 in San Francisco. To learn more or register to attend, please see www.subscribed.com.
About Zuora, Inc.
Zuora is the global leader in subscription commerce and billing, helping companies in every industry transition to the Subscription Economy. Enterprise leaders and high-growth companies alike use Zuora’s multi-tenant cloud platform to launch, scale, and monetize their subscription services. Zuora’s applications work where traditional ERP applications fail: subscription pricing, quoting, orders, billing, payments, and renewals. Built from the ground up by SaaS industry veterans from salesforce.com, PayPal, and Netsuite, Zuora services innovative customers like Informatica, Tata Communications, Box, Xplornet, Ustream and Reed Business Information. To learn more about Zuora, please visitwww.zuora.com, Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, join us on LinkedIn, hang out with us on Google+, or visit Z Blog.