I’m happy to announce three major changes including turning into an API-first company, enabling pay-as-you-go pricing and solidifying our position as a two-sided marketplace
If you’re reading this, you have a connection to Bllush — as one of its employees, customers, investors, partners or fans. This post will explain what we have improved in our latest launch — and more importantly, why.
What have we changed?
We’ve made changes in three areas, as shown below. These changes align with our vision to democratize the content world, delight users with rich-content experiences and build a customer-centric B2B company. Every interaction we have with our customers should be as frictionless as possible. This is only achievable through high levels of transparency and alignment. Here we go!
#1 Content API — How retailers integrate our content
As a startup, speed is the most valuable resource we have. We’ve always strived to launch projects with new partners as quickly as possible. The fact that the standard duration to sign, integrate, and launch with a new client is 9–12 months never sat well with me.
Why the move to API-first will benefit both us and our customers
- Time-to-market — by using an API, project development time can be reduced from months to weeks. In addition, additional resources will be saved by freeing up the time of both project managers that need to communicate back and forth with their teams. This will allow customers to launch pilots much faster.
- Focus on our core technology — we started seeing that UI personalization tasks were utilizing approximately 40% of our R&D resources. While needed, these are low-value, repetitive tasks that take resources away from our core value proposition, building out the best content marketplace. On the other hand, retailers know their users better than us. A team from the retailer should be the owner of the user experience, not “outsourced” to us.
- Flexibility and more implementation options — by offering our content via an API, we can support experiences that exceed simple web pages — mobile apps, email newsletters, category-pages, product-detail-pages, and anything else. This will now allow us to deliver a consistent user experience for the end-users. Bllush’s full suite of APIs will allow teams to easily develop tailored, content-rich discovery experiences that delight and convert.
Introducing, the Bllush Content API
Our customers will be able to order content through our marketplace and access this content through a direct API. Then they will be able to build content-rich user experiences on top of this API. They will have the full control to test, experiment and make tweaks. They will be in full control of the frontend & UI, being able to personalize the experience for their users, who they are the expert on.
Many retailers we work with often come up with their own ideas on how to use content to provide a new user experience. Many meetings I’ve been in have ended with the client wanting to use our content in more touchpoints. Under the previous model, these requests would take us months or even years to complete. By offering our content via API, we can allow our customers to take control and build new experiences without waiting for us.
This pivot to an API-first company was done after first trying with several of our design partners, such as Zalando. These partners have been using our beta API for the past year. To help retailers understand and implement our API, we have launched a Developers section with guides, API documentation and best practices on how to measure success.
#2 Pay-as-you-go — how we charge money
Pricing is always a challenging issue where misalignment is common. Although everyone has good intentions, the actual contracts and pricing strategies implemented say a lot more about “customer-centric” vendors.
The subscription economy — what’s good for vendors
Vendors are typically trying to generate the highest contract value for the short-term, today. By locking-in clients with multi-year contracts, they can guarantee clients staying at least one year, which masks churn nicely. In addition, many vendors require upfront payment to strengthen their cash flow. These goals are fueled by the financial industry’s questionable obsession with subscription-based business models, measured by MRR/ARR. While these tactics are good for the vendor, do they create a good buying experience for the customer? Usually not.
Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Customers, especially retailers, are understandably wary of vendor promises. The average e-commerce executive hears dozens of pitches a week to increase her conversion rate. They often sound too good to be true — which they often are due to misleading stats published about best-case situations.
Furthermore, for many, this is the first time they are implementing new cloud technologies. They aren’t entirely confident their teams will be able to implement these new technologies — let alone determine in a data-driven way the success of the projects. But yet, retailers are forced to bite the bullet, sign the annual contract and hope for the best.
Pay-as-you-go — what’s good for customers
If you look at the business model of the world’s most successful B2B companies, you see a similar theme — transparency and simplicity. Although these companies offer completely different products, they all allow their customers to try their products without committing. They support the pay-as-you-go model, allowing customers to start small and later grow together with the customer’s future needs.
This is a fundamental requirement of offering a friendly buying journey. It favors showing true impact and receiving value over locking-in clients to annual contracts.
I’m proud to announce that today, we too can allow our customers to try our product without committing to long-term contracts. Under the new model, retailers can order content directly from creators around the world using our platform. We charge only for delivered content, allowing retailers to launch pilots with minimal upfront costs. They can later scale the content at any moment, which is the smart way to experiment.
We have published our pricing chart, based on the unit prices of each content component we offer. This gives the retailer a fixed cost which can be used to easily calculate ROI and scalability options after a first pilot. Over time, with further R&D investments into automation, we will be able to reduce internal costs, lowering our prices to pass the savings to our customers.
As a bonus, we will now be able to offer an incentive to retailers we especially want to work with. Similar to AWS and other cloud providers, we will arm our champions with credits. This will allow retailers to run several experiments truly free of charge and see the value for themselves. If you are a retailer and interested in this, reach out to a Bllush representative.
#3 Creators network — how our content is created
Since we started the company, content creators were the core of our value proposition. These fashion experts, who are actively creating content on social media, are our natural partners. In the past, we have experimented with different methods of working with creators through two platforms branded as Smize and Rubistock.
Being a content creator is a relatively new type of occupation that does not yet have a strong ecosystem to support it. Creators are typically expected to create content for free, until the point they receive brand endorsements, which may be free, gifted or paid. Due to the campaign-based model brands work, creators do not have a steady income stream. The result is that very few creators can work on what they love full-time — and need to support part-time jobs on the side.
I’m happy to announce that our creator program is leaving it’s beta status and getting the attention it deserves. It will now be branded as Bllush Creators. We are offering creators two ways to work with us and earn money:
1. Bllush Creator — listing their fashion outfits on our marketplace
Creators often have thousands of images saved on their phones and social media accounts. By joining our creator marketplace, they can license their outfits to fashion retailers, having their photos published and earn royalty fees. This is a passive role where creators get paid for existing images they have created. An average creator can earn between €50-€200 a month. Creators can signup through our website.
2. Bllush Creator Premium — curating content for our partners
This program allows creators to take a more active role in curating content. They can complete fashion tasks, such as selecting outfits, reviewing product recommendations and writing editorial text. These creators are given the responsibility of making sure the content delivered by the platform is production-ready. Creators earn approximately €10–€15 an hour and can decide how much they want to work — from 5 hours a week to a full-time job. This program is currently still in beta and you can join the waiting list.
These programs are our way to give this new occupation the recognition it deserves. By giving creators that work with Bllush more stable and passive income, more will be able to move to full-time creators. This will strengthen our platform and the industry itself.
Brand Improvements — We’ve taken the opportunity to make some brand improvements and upgrades to our digital brand appearance. All the new offerings, experiences, pricing and generally “vibe” have been incorporated into our new website. We’re hoping a clear and transparent website will reduce confusion and inspire retailers that browse our offering to get started.
This post was inspired by Lemonade’s transparency articles by founders Daniel Schreiber and Shai Wininger (my favorite — Zero-to-100 Million in 3 Years). The level of public transparency they are demonstrating is inspiring and sets a new standard for private companies.
Thanks to our entire team, customers, advisors, investors, and friends for providing feedback on these changes over the past few months:
Peleg Aran, Noa Bergman, Niv Namer, Mor Palgi, Lilian Krumholz, Leon Siggelkow, Joanna Cohn, Matan Gidnian, Yoav Earon, Boaz Omanuti, Nitzan Gal, Bonita Dean, Daniel Silverburg, Adam Kaplan, Ran Alter, Asaf Moses, Adam Segal, Guy Shachar, Noam Ackerman, Omri Peled, Eugene Kreinin, Dennis Levien, Aviv Garten, Maayan Yaazdi, Yoav Artzi, Yoni Elbaz, Or Brigga, Liat Aaronson, Markus Grundmann, Gilon Miller, Nir Benita, Hakan Soğukpınar, Irem Yilandil, Holger Stripf, Martin Storz, Hubert Matschek, Mareen Kerling, Martin Soucek, Zara Evren, Marc Lamik, Alex Chachava, Eli Sternheim
Extra thanks to our board members and advisors for countless hours reviewing and helping define our strategy: Sergey Toporv, Ofer Egozi, Hans Ohsoon, and Ofer Vilenski.