Kahuna announces a purpose-built SaaS solution for Digital Marketplaces – Enterprise Irregulars

Five full quarters in the seat at Kahuna and with many many customer co-development hours to show for It, I’m thrilled to publicly share Kahuna’s forward focus. I’m stoked to announce a SaaS platform specifically for marketplaces that helps retain buyers and sellers, and connect them to drive liquidity.

Unlike most marketing systems that focus on just buyer marketing, Kahuna is the only provider that offers a comprehensive solution that caters to buyer marketing, seller optimization, marketplace liquidity, and marketplace insights that help you make better decisions. And yes, true to our roots, all this sits on a massively scalable data platform that is proven to ingest over seven billion events, and uses machine learning to help you make split-second decisions to engage just the right buyer and right seller, profitably.

A slew of marketplaces worldwide, including seven of the leading regional marketplaces from Singapore to San Paulo, are already using Kahuna to engage buyers and sellers,to drive liquidity.

Here’s why we did it:

Consumer marketplaces come in many shapes and sizes, ranging from classifieds, to ridesharing, to travel, to jobs, and restaurant matching. There’s even specialized marketplaces for education and micro-learning. Each of these has very different business models and unique needs but all marketplaces live, thrive, or die based on three realities:

  • First, acquiring buyers and then ferociously growing gross merchandise value or GMV to break even and get profitable to recover heavy acquisition costs.
  • Second, constantly optimizing the seller experience to create a critical mass of inventory, to drive repeat listings and to increase average order values.
  • Third, and perhaps most important – driving constant liquidity. Liquidity comes in the form of nailing the right buyer:seller ratios, by waking up dormant conversations, by constantly matching buyer needs and seller inventory. You can have thousands of buyers and sellers but they if aren’t matched with the right transaction, at the right time, and in an economically feasible way, the marketplace falls apart. Here is a whole post about it.

The nuances of marketplaces are extremely important as well. Some such as classifieds sites live by being supplier first. For others such as restaurant reservation services, the listings are a given but the fight for patron mindshare is fierce. Yet others signing up merchants to create inventory and expand choice over traditional ecommerce competitors is critical. Scores of fantastic marketplace ideas ran out of steam because they did not cater correctly to the right stakeholder in a meaningful way. Beepi, Auctionata, and HomeHero accounted for a quarter of a billion dollars of wasted venture investment for this very reason.

As we served more and more marketplace customers and began to focus solely on understanding their businesses, it was clear that this fastest-growing category of digital commerce was using technology that was meeting a third of its needs, largely with buyer focused marketing automation.

What these customers wanted was a purpose-built consumer engagement platform that catered to their unique problems. Problems such as reducing cognitive overload for buyers, keeping buyers and sellers negotiating, minimizing shopping cart abandonment, triggering real-time action to close transactions, facilitating paid placement and promotions, optimizing buyer to seller ratios, and determining the best message and subject lines, device, channel and time that drives liquidity. And scores more.

Thanks to our amazing customers who have co-developed this solution with us, Kahuna is already showing real results for leading marketplace customers. TickPick, one of fastest growing ticketing marketplaces saw a 29% increase in revenue, using Kahuna. Restorando, far and away Latin America’s leader in restaurant reservations, saw a whopping 23% increase in repeat bookings. If you are familiar with typical conversion rates in the consumer space, these kinds of hard stats far outpace the average 2-5% increases and can catapult any marketplace business to abundant liquidity.

We come to this market with open arms

Kahuna was always designed to be an open platform and wherever we can pre-connect the right technologies for our customers, we will bear the freight to improve our customers time to value.

For starters, we’ve lined up three partnerships. Magento’s 200,000 commerce customers can avail of this integrated solution for their marketplace needs. Kahuna will capture relevant purchase signals to make buyer and seller interactions more relevant and as a result, drive retention, and repeat usage. Together, Kahuna and Oracle/Responsys, can also serve marketplaces who want best of breed marketing automation capabilities to complement Kahunas seller optimization and market vibrancy capabilities. BounceX and Kahuna together convert anonymous users to registered buyers at a much faster clip.

If you want to grow this market together and you are already serving this market, drop us a note at partners@kahuna.com. More is better in our book.

Why we’re excited about the opportunity

On a personal note, for those of you know me, you know that I’ve always veered towards purpose built business applications that scale up fast. At Kahuna, we believe that the marketplace business is a completely new paradigm, requiring its own stack of purpose built SaaS applications.

As I shared in our press release:

Over 20 years ago we saw manufacturing-focused enterprise software emerge with ERP and Supply Chain as core offerings,” said Sameer Patel, chief executive officer, Kahuna. “Today the most modern form of commerce is not manufacturer or warehouse to consumer but rather, millions of sellers to millions of buyers, represented by marketplaces in almost every category, amounting to more than $500 billion in commerce. Kahuna has built a modern operating system for this underserved but fastest growing segment of ecommerce by providing technology to connect the right sellers with the right buyers and to get the flywheel constantly moving to generate liquidity. No other platform is intently focused on serving this market.

And on another, just as special note, the team at Kahuna is thrilled to welcome back Jacob Taylor, co-founder and head of Data Science at Kahuna. Jacob architected the original real-time data platform at Kahuna and has been instrumental in our efforts over the past several months to get Kahuna for Marketplaces off the ground. Jacob brings a wealth of experience in CRM and Martech. Prior to Kahuna, Jacob was co-founder and CTO of SugarCRM and held key technology positions at Octane Software and Epiphany. Above all else, he exudes a lot of empathy for the end consumer, and that’s evident in the decisions we make when we build software.

This isn’t a go forward plan. We’ve quietly been working on this for a while and we have real customers and real proof points as I shared above.

Big big ups to our amazing team at Kahuna. It’s your drive and ingenuity that got us to this amazing milestone.

To learn more, here is a link to the press release and the coverage on Techcrunch and on Martech Today.

(Cross-posted @ Pretzel Logic)


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