In the latest in our ‘Platform People’ series, we talk to Jozef Wallis from Booxscale, the ‘marketplace of marketplaces’. Booxscale is a B2B middleware layer, aggregating marketplaces from every sector together and connecting them with leading publishers like eBay and Bing and emerging technologies like voice and chat bots.
“I am serial entrepreneur with a number of exits under my belt from quite diverse technologies and sectors, such as weather, AdTech and dentistry. My last exit was Toothpick.com a two-sided marketplace booking dental appointments online. Here the team learned a huge amount the marketplace model, challenges and growth hacks helped scale. From Toothpick I went on to consult some of the world’s largest and smallest marketplaces before setting up Booxscale to address the challenges that we identified from our work in the space. The three key value propositions are as follows:
The Marketplace – There are new channels opening almost every day. It can be expensive, time consuming and suck up valuable resources to continually integrate and update your marketplace to be compliant. Many large publishers won’t engage with small to medium size products and services although valuable mostly considered too niche. A single integration with Booxscale, integrates the marketplace with all the publishers and technologies up the funnel where we are already live.
The Publisher – Marketplaces are not all the same, adopting different booking flows, payment options and UX. This can be challenging to integrate with and manage numerous relationships, technologies, data and payments. The publisher gets access to a firehouse of data and SME’s covering many different sectors in one go, one invoice and one cheque at the end of the month. Booxscale also connects with multiple marketplaces in the same sector often providing the richest data and number of suppliers in the market.
The user – Users get access to far greater choice of suppliers in the same vertical or others from the Booxscale integration. Users can also connect with marketplaces through an ever-growing list of emerging technology like Cortana with Amazon Alexa coming soon.
Just as there are efficiencies by Booxscale aggregating marketplaces, the same can be said for SMEs in their relevant sector. Market forces are easier to tap when you can present choice. Many of the businesses that join marketplaces are hyper local and the cost to efficiently position the business on the various technologies and platforms can outweigh the benefits.
- Marketplaces are typically performance only, reducing the risk on advertising.
- Market forces allow marketplaces to advertise to a broader audience through channels like TV which are usually out of reach for an SME.
- SMEs don’t need to invest into booking engines, referral and review systems as these features are usually packaged into the service and can focus on providing the best service possible to the customer.
A typical day for me? Network, network, network. This is still what I spend most of my time doing. I typically divide my day between calls and meetings. I try to do as many calls in the morning as possible so that if I am out on engagements I am not distracted. With today’s international business calls flow into late evening, but most of my meetings are in central London so at least for this part of my life I have a great carbon footprint, and I’m not flying anywhere near as much as I used too. My wife often refers to the term “Startup Widow” as long hours can often be involved.
My favourite quote relating to this world is from Ev Williams, Twitter co-founder, who said ‘The internet makes human desires more easily attainable. In other words, it offers convenience. Convenience on the internet is basically achieved by two things: speed, and cognitive ease. If you study what the really big things on the internet are, you realize they are masters at making things fast and not making people think’.
I went to the Yext conference Explore 19 in London where their founder Howard Lerman talked about back when Google first started it was all about the speed in which they could get you off the search engine to a website. Now this is quickly being reversed, with the advent of voice I think we are going to see some paradigm shifts in user behaviour when connecting with local businesses and interacting with search engines, marketplaces or SME’s directly.
We recently, with our partners SayItNow (Voice, chat and conversation experts), won the UK Amazon Alexa Cup and the European Amazon Alexa Cup. Presenting our proposal to connect marketplaces and small businesses at scale with Alexa and will be in the finals in Newark USA late July 2019. Let’s make millions of marketplaces and businesses voice enabled!
What’s next? We are experiencing a couple of really interesting trends. One of these we have termed a ‘cloud booking’, where a user is communicating with a marketplace about the same transaction across multiple channels, e.g. booked a takeaway on Bing on the laptop, checked it on the mobile phone and then wanted to update the order using Cortana or Alexa: multiple devices and channels used with the same account and in many cases the same order.
Secondly, chatbots and voice search are going to play a massive part in the next phase of a customer’s experience with marketplaces and SMEs. This technology is being adopted faster than any technology before and will revolutionise the space. Best get ahead of the curve and give us a ring…”