Tag Archives: Connect

Changing Business Models: Learning to be Flexible

“One cannot alter a condition with the same mindset that created it in the first place.” -Albert Einstein

In today’s fast-moving society, businesses must adjust their bushutterstock_1561664siness models or face the risk of obsolescence. Western corporations are especially susceptible to relying on the methods that they instituted decades ago with a hope and a prayer that the economy will act in their favor. We still remember the luxury of big budgets, long timelines, and a structured approach to innovation. The 21st century, however, requires more of us. Corporations today succeed when they act fast, remain flexible, and manage frugally.

There is a lot of opportunity in our futures, and we can learn from the mistakes of corporations that have fallen away. Kodak was a pioneer in the film industry, but it failed to compete in the digital world. Barnes and Noble did not alter from their brick and mortar stores, hardly competition for the likes of Amazon. Entire industries have been trying to master the perplexity of marrying changing times with dinosaur innovation and operating methods. Big Pharma continues to increase the cost of R&D while producing fewer drugs. The auto industry required a bailout of the US government in 2008 in the amount of $62 billion, yet even with this second chance, they are still flagging against their foreign competitors. These bureaucratic, slow-moving business models are proving again and again to be unsustainable.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but there is much to be said of a proactive and flexible approach to growth moving forward. The convenience store industry has made great efforts to stay relevant in the retail space. Fresh, healthy foods are a new staple, complemented by every variety and flavor of coffee. Convenience is more of a premium than ever before, and petroleum marketers are meeting this demand with more products, cleaner facilities, and increased services. Social media is even being adopted as a way to stay connected to customers.

One area of change that directly affects petroleum marketers is that of the payment space. PCI, EMV, Chip and Card—the requirements keep changing and the fees and costs keep increasing. With credit card fees being the second highest expense to a petroleum marketer, Intevacon can offer a new approach to the payments game. There are several advantages in using Intevacon for your card processing. Our low rates are a good start when it comes to protecting your margins. Plus, our system keeps you in control and helps you manage your relationships to your cardholders. By offering your own proprietary card, you can increase the loyalty of repeat customers.

Intevacon continues to innovate and improve our business model. When we were founded, we made the decision to leave all of the legacy systems of fleet cards in the past. Intevacon is completely web-based, and we process card transactions in real time. The system is continually being improved as our R&D department functions in collaboration with our customers. In 2013, we introduced the Intevacon Prepaid Card to meet the emerging needs of our customer’s cardholders. Currently, we are developing the Intevacon Fuel Network to help link petroleum marketers across the nation and equip them to make their own business decisions.

In a world where technology changes so rapidly and information is abundant, it can be difficult to know which direction to dedicate resources. There is a Hindi word, jugaad, which translates ‘an innovative fix; an improvised solution born from ingenuity and cleverness.’While the U.S. is blessed with an advanced society, there is merit in evaluating the flexible practices being espoused by emerging markets that are forced to innovate out of necessity. Sometimes the best solutions are those that challenge our business models to shed the institutional constraints to which we have become accustomed. A flexible system with margin is much more likely to thrive in times of change.

 

1. Radjou, Navi, et al. Jugaad Innovation: Think Frugal, Be Flexible, Generate Breakthrough Growth. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2012. Print.

Challenging Tradition: Alternative Payment Solutions

For as long as consumers have shopped, merchants have provided payment solutions. Whether it was through a barter system when money got tight or during the advent of the credit card, both buyers and sellers have gravitated to the most economical and efficient payment methods at hand. That is why this season of payment solutions is so fascinating. The trends are definitely shifting, and consumers are choosing with their wallets, literally in this case. Merchants are also seeCaptureking solutions that protect their bottom lines.

Intevacon offers a unique payment solution focused exclusively on the oil marketer—we created this system for the marketer, and our business model is built for his/her benefit. As a card processor, Intevacon provides all levels of card processing data—transaction details, quantities, taxes, product codes, etc.—without having to involve the middlemen.

Think of the traditional credit card processor. When you think of this credit card processor, you also have to think of all of the other players involved—the banks (both the cardholder and the merchant bank), the issuer of the card, the acquirer, etc. Credit card fees continue to increase as each player takes a piece of the pie. With margins for fuel counted in pennies, this cut is noticeable to a marketer. Not only does the marketer sacrifice his/her margin to processing fees, but he/she also loses the relationship to the cardholder.

We have seen traditional banks fall out of vogue more and more in time. An article in CSP News titled “Blowing Up the Bank” starts with the line “The banking system today is going to be totally blown up in the next 10 years.”1 Alternative banking and payment solutions are the way of the future. Another article corroborating this claim quotes the research firm, Packaged Facts, saying that approximately 40% of adults 18 years or older are unbanked.2 With this trend, we will continue seeing a shift away from traditional banking to “non-bank” funding accounts and reloadable prepaid cards.

Several non-traditional players have emerged, amongst them: Google, Paypal, and Amazon. We are excited for this new landscape of payment solutions, as it challenges the status quo and gives both consumers and merchants new options. When considering how you will choose to conduct business, consider your partners carefully. An article recently published in Forbes about the future of mobile payments stated, “Whoever ends up with controlling interests in this new digital ecosystem will reap billions in transaction fees, collect massive amounts of consumer data […].”3

Intevacon’s focus is to provide card processing services to our marketers so that you will be able to grow and protect your margins. Your success is our success. With Intevacon, you will always be in the center of your relationship with your customer. We are transparent and generous with our pricing model, and we offer the best customer service in the industry. Give us a call if you want to learn more about adopting a proprietary fleet card program through Intevacon. Now is the time to take back control of the transactions you are working so hard to achieve.

Contact us at 678-739-4450 or moreinfo@intevacon.com to get more information. http://www.Intevacon.com

 

  1. “Blowing Up the Bank.” CSP. April 2014. Web. April 2014. http://www.cspnet.com/industry-news-analysis/technology/articles/blowing-bank
  2. “General Merchandise: Prepaid & Financial Services 2014.” CSP. April 2014. Web. April 2014. http://www.cspnet.com/print/csp-magazine/article/general-merchandise-prepaid-financial-services-2014?page=0%2C0&utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20News%2004-28-2014%20%281%29&utm_content=&spMailingID=45724913&spUserID=MjU0MDQ1OTk0MjkS1&spJobID=423296958&spReportId=NDIzMjk2OTU4S0
  3. “Can PayPal Beat Apple, Google, Amazon And Icahn In The Wallet Wars?” Forbes. March 2014. Web. March 2014.http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevenbertoni/2014/02/12/can-paypal-beat-apple-google-amazon-and-icahn-in-the-wallet-wars/

All Customers, Big and Small, We Love Them All

shutterstock_287472So far the trade show season has been a wonderful opportunity for Intevacon to connect with our current marketers and create new relationships with future partners.  This is a really fun season for us, and we are excited for the opportunity to serve in this industry.  As we travel across the country and interface with so many different businesses in the process, we cannot help but notice that there is a chasm between the companies who are in business to provide a service and the companies who are in business to increase revenues. 

As everyone who flew to the last trade show can attest, the airline industry is a perfect example of an industry that has shifted perspective from focusing on its customers to focusing on its bottom line.  Traveling by plane is no longer just the price of a ticket.  There are now fees tacked onto every element of the experience—from baggage to seat selection.  Delta made a move this week to revamp its reward system starting in January 2015.  The new structure will prioritize “those sitting in the front of the plane, rather than the back-seaters,” as stated in an article published by MSN. 

The most obvious aspect of this mentality is the absence of an honorable purpose.   The agenda is no longer to serve the customer, but rather to take advantage of the customer at any opportunity.  Intevacon endeavors in every exchange to benefit the marketer.  Your success is our success.  We want to be generous in our service, our pricing, our features, and our support.  We are in business to serve you.  Intevacon provides the best product in the industry, so why not also give the ultimate level of support to our customers who use it? 

Delta’s prioritization of its high-dollar front seat customers over the “back-seaters” is an anachronism to the business model that we espouse.  We know that our smallest customers depend on us the most.  The success of their one or two sites means the success of their entire business.  We also understand that our biggest customers need special TLC to get all of their processes aligned with the Intevacon system.  We are equally invested in all of our customers, and we find that this approach fosters relationships that are both personal and gratifying.  (For more, see our blog on “What Makes Customers Happy”.)

Intevacon is built on the principles of Integrity, Value, and Confidence.  Our marketers are generous in their praise and recommendation of Intevacon, and we take pleasure in being generous in the benefits that we can offer to our marketers.     

The Connection Economy

There is no doubt iStock_000000050552_L3that business models have shifted in the last few years.  Consumer expectations are changing every day.  Generational theory addresses the mindset shift of each new generation: Silent, Boomer, Gen-Xer, and Millennial.  Retailers are constantly attempting to understand how to cater to generations of the past and the future.  Employers are changing their strategies on hiring and retention.  Education systems are attempting new approaches to learning.  But there is more to the current shift in society than can be attributed to the changing generations.  Our economy has changed from the industrial age to the information age, and more recently the term Connection Economy has been used to describe our current state. 

I don’t know about you, but there is something almost hopeful in coining this new era as the Connection Economy.  It is hopeful because it not only comprises the advantages of a digital age, but it also marries relationship to resource.  This term was first introduced by Seth Godin in his book The Icarus DeceptionThis concept can also be found peppered throughout his blog

Excerpts from one of Seth Godin’s blogs describing the Connection Economy are listed below.  The complete blog post can be read here.

[T]he connection economy, our economy, the economy of the foreseeable future, embraces abundance. No, we don’t have an endless supply of the resources we used to trade and covet. No, we certainly don’t have a surplus of time, either. But we do have an abundance of choice, an abundance of connection, and an abundance of access to knowledge.

The connection economy continues to gain traction because connections scale, information begets more information, and influence accrues to those who create this abundance. As connections scale, these connections paradoxically make it easier for others to connect as well, because anyone with talent or passion can leverage the networks created by connection to increase her impact. The connection economy doesn’t create jobs where we get picked and then get paid; the connection economy builds opportunities for us to connect, and then demands that we pick ourselves.

Just as the phone network becomes more valuable when more phones are connected (scarcity is the enemy of value in a network), the connection economy becomes more valuable as we scale it.

Friends bring us more friends. A reputation brings us a chance to build a better reputation. Access to information encourages us to seek ever more information. The connections in our life multiply and increase in value.

In an era where relationships are rewarded with abundance and access is a privilege shared without discrimination, Intevacon is excited to participate in this new Connection Economy.  And we couldn’t be happier than to share in the abundance with our marketers.