Interview

Exclusive interview with 2Checkout's CEO on what makes a good digital commerce platform

Tuesday 11 February 2020 09:58 CET | Editor: Andra Constantinovici | Interview

Alex Hart, CEO of 2Checkout, offers an insightful take on what makes a successful digital commerce and payments solution and what the future holds for B2C and B2B commerce

Online payments solutions and monetization platforms (especially for ecommerce) are surely frontrunners in the industry when it comes to an innovation-oriented attitude. What are the most relevant disruptors in the market today? 

Digital commerce continues to grow and evolve at a rapid rate. Consumers and businesses alike are buying more and more of the products and services they want and need through digital devices. The growth of digital commerce is creating previously unimaginable convenience, efficiency, and value, while also fuelling the need for an increasingly sophisticated set of capabilities to maximise value and minimise negative disruption.  

In this context, leading digital commerce companies recognise the need for great underwriting, fraud prevention, and fraud detection tools and practices, and regulatory efforts such as GDPR and PSD2 ensure that each participant in the digital commerce value chain is aware of the need for solid data and privacy protection. A company that fails to take these issues seriously won’t be around for long. 

A number of emerging technologies will influence the development of digital commerce, especially artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and voice assistants. Each will likely play a role, but how big that role will be and how quickly each will become a meaningful contributor to the bottom line remains to be seen.  

Moreover, an increased focus on taxation in many parts of the world has made tax management an increasingly important part of digital commerce, and the ability to conduct transactions in local currencies and languages is becoming a prerequisite. 

The ability to combine great invoicing, subscription management, tax management, foreign exchange, and payment flexibility in one place is also becoming increasingly important as digital commerce providers compete to change their industries around the globe. Today most providers stitch a bunch of disparate systems together to get the capabilities they need, but next generation platforms that simplify the increasingly complex set of digital commerce needs are gaining ground, becoming the ultimate disrupters. 

Could you please share with our readers how 2Checkout came to be and the strong suits and challenges that the company tackles every day? 

2Checkout began as Avangate in 2006. Our founders were in the anti-virus software business, and their efforts to sell their products globally revealed that the challenges associated with selling software outside your home country represented a huge opportunity. Avangate was created to simplify the process of creating a shopping experience, collecting taxes, complying with local and international rules and regulations, and processing payments for merchants around the world. Avangate acquired 2Checkout, and adopted its name, in 2017, adding great self-service commerce capabilities and more flexible payment options. 2Checkout is now the only digital commerce platform that gives merchants the ability to outsource the entire ecommerce process to an established partner or to pick and choose the services that best fit their unique needs – by product, by country, or by a number of other parameters – and to change those services as their needs evolve over time. 

What is the target market that the 2Checkout solutions are looking to conquer? How are some ways in which the company adapts its offering from merchants to payments service providers? 

2Checkout serves more than 17,000 merchants, from very small businesses to some of the largest corporations in the world, in more than 180 countries and territories. 2Checkout’s modular architecture enables merchants to select as much or as little help as they want to take payments, pay taxes, manage the ecommerce workflow, and manage the subscriptions and renewal processes that are an important part of most businesses today. 

Can you share a few examples of successful go-to market strategies and partnerships that steered 2Checkout further in its goals for 2019? 

2Checkout began as a software company, and our expertise in software has enabled us to help a lot of software companies and other digital service providers to make the shift to a subscription-based business model. The ability to enable companies to create and manage subscription-based businesses has led to solid growth and the ability to reinvest in the innovations that keep us at the forefront of the ecommerce industry. Our ability to provide great subscription management solutions paired with great payment capabilities has also enabled us to make big investments in revenue recovery tools, tax management services, and foreign exchange in ways that provide our merchants with both high quality and tremendous value. 

2Checkout just released in late December a survey coagulating the most relevant ecommerce trends for 2020. Customer experience, technology, and personalisation seem to be the focus points for online businesses. Can you tell us more about the findings of the survey, what could you name as some lessons learned that can be leveraged for better market adaptation and innovation? 

We have learned that while the impact of technology is on the rise, great technology alone is not sufficient. Technology needs to support the things that the customer wants to do in a way that is both intuitive and personally relevant. Simply providing someone with a lot of options is not the right approach. In fact, too many options can be paralyzing. Creating a complete solution that is easy to use is critical, and the right combination of factors can vary significantly across customer segments. 

Following up on the above question, what are some key conclusions after 2019 related to the current status of the B2B commerce industry and what are some untapped business opportunities in this market? 

We know that the functional needs of business customers are somewhat different than the needs of consumers, but the increasing consumerisation of B2B commerce positions us well to expand more aggressively into that market. We find that many of the B2B solutions in use today are functionally sufficient but difficult to use or integrate. Our focus on the user experience and on integration with a company’s other systems via APIs gives us a significant advantage as we make bigger investments in B2B. 

What does the future hold for 2Checkout in terms of expansion plans, tech advancements, or possible partnerships? Key elements for successful global expansion (from local to global). 

One of the key strategic requirements of every successful technology company is deciding what ideas need to be pursued aggressively and what has to wait. We have a lot of very smart, very creative people, not just in engineering but across the company, and we have a lot of great ideas as a result. We also serve a lot of interesting and important merchants, with smart and creative people of their own. Figuring out which of those great ideas to pursue next, and how many of them we can successfully pursue at any one time, is the most challenging part of our role as a leader in the development of direct to merchant ecommerce. We have made very good decisions thus far by listening to our customers, listening to THEIR customers, and figuring out which things are important to pursue even if our customers aren’t quite ready for them yet. We’ve come a long way in the past few years, but the year ahead will be the most exciting yet! 

About Alex Hart

Alex Hart is currently 2Checkout’s CEO and member of the company’s Board of Directors. He has joined Avangate as CEO in November 2015 and, following the acquisition of 2Checkout in 2017, has remained as the CEO of the combined company. Alex has more than 25 years of experience and an extensive record of success in leading payment services and software businesses. 

 

About 2Checkout

2Checkout is the leading all-in-one monetization platform for global businesses. It was built to help clients drive sales growth across channels and increase market share by simplifying the complexities of modern commerce like global payments, subscription billing, merchandising, taxes, compliance, and risk, so they stay focused on innovating their products and delivering exceptional customer experiences. Get more information at www.2checkout.com

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Keywords: 2Checkout, Alex Hart, digital commerce platform, ecommerce, online payments, monetization platforms, frontrunners, GDPR, PSD2, tax management, subscription management, foreign exchange, payments, payment flexibility, digital commerce
Categories: Payments & Commerce | Ecommerce
Countries: United States
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce