I have worked as Product Manager for over 4 years now and my major work has been at Paytm and Tokopedia, where I launched consumer products like QR code-based payments, AMP & PWA, Referral system, Tokopedia Challenge, etc. and some platform products like recommendation systems, and integrations with tools like Branch.io, but they have been mainly for consumers in the end.
Recently, after working with Branch.io as a customer, I decided to join their team as a Senior Product Manager. Now, this was new for me in many ways, but the most noticeable change was how different is B2B and B2C product management. I will be discussing the changes I observed from my experience in B2C —
Customers Number — In my previous companies where we had millions of customers (Paytm App had 60M+ MAU and Tokopedia had 30M+ MAU when I was there) and we didn’t know each of them personally, they were mere customer_id, at Branch.io we have a lot fewer customers, but we know most of them.
Equality — Yes, at Paytm and Tokopedia we also measured LTV, loyalty, and retention, but overall features for each customer were the same, we won’t take individual feature requests. At Branch.io we have customers that can be as big as Amazon and a new startup using forfree, we cannot treat each customer equally.
User vs Buyer — At Paytm and Tokopedia, people who download the app or log into the website are the users, yes they may be buying for someone else, but more or less they themselves are the user. At Branch.io, people who make the buying decisions are generally CXO’s and VP’s, who don’t use the product themselves and most have a team that uses the product day to day. Yes, in the team there are people who influence the decision and give feedback, but as the size of the client grows, so thus the gap.
User Acquisition and Retention — The channels which I was used to for customer acquisition like Affiliates, SEO, Referral, Paid Ads, Google Adwords, Facebook, etc. are little relevant here. You cannot make a user persona and target them here. The channels for acquisition becomes contact of contact, meetups, Linkedin, etc. Salespeople are more relevant to our industry than Instagram. Even for retention, we used to do Pop-ups, Push notification, promo codes, etc, which doesn’t make sense at Branch. A good user experience, value to the customer, and good support make them stay with us.
Size of the team — Here at Branch.io we are 5 product managers, managing all the features, at Paytm when I was working we had 30 PM’s and at Tokopedia 75 PM’s. Even the engineering team at Paytm and Tokopedia was in 500–600 range, at Branch we have 40–50 engineers. I am not sure if it was because of Asia vs the USA, but in general B2B teams tend to be smaller. So, the outcome per person is way higher and thus value too.
Teams — At Paytm and Tokopedia, major teams were, product, engineering, design, and data. The key discussions and decisions were communicated amongst them only. At Branch, we have other teams that are kept in the loop and whose feedbacks are equally important, these are Sales, Customer Success, Support, Business Development, Solutions team.
The number of features — At a consumer company, you are always trying to launch more features, pickup Paytm or Tokopedia and you will be amazed by how many things they can do. Each product can have a lot of features. At Branch, we are very selective on what features to develop and generally, we try to ship a feature that will generate the highest value.
Platforms — This one is quite sensible, but still coming from the mobile-first background, it took me some time to adjust. Since the product is for people who are sitting in the office and running campaigns, as compared to people who will be doing bill payment or shopping during their commute or dinner, we have Web First product. Again, this will change from a case by case basis, for e.g. Slack needs to have a mobile product for sure, but Braze doesn’t need to have a mobile-first approach.
Dogfooding — At consumer companies like Paytm and Tokopedia it is easy to do dogfooding, you need to be a user of your product (if you are not, you are doing something wrong). And it is easier to find consumers in your circle, family, friends, and colleagues. At B2B companies it is possible in some cases like Slack, Zoom, etc. It is not possible in all scenarios like at Branch, we do use our Deeplinking technology to make all our links, but attribution is not that easy to test.
Design — Design is important at both B2B and B2C, but as the platform changes, and so does objective. You are no longer making people buy more, you are not trying to hook them up like Tinder, Twitter. You are designing to make things simpler and as less as friction as possible. Also, you can’t reintroduce a design revamp without giving customers the option to switch back. Because customers are used to your dashboard and sudden change may cause uneasiness. A very good example here is of Basecamp, which still runs 3 versions of their platform.
Documentation — At Paytm or Tokopedia, the documentation at most used to be What’s new section of App Store. Or an FAQ section for both customer and support team. At Branch, you have to make sure documentation is updated or available for your customers because they are eventually gonna land to the documentation section of your website and do the implementation. It needs to be updated and easy to understand.
Metrics — The metrics which you use changes, you are no longer interested in DAU/MAU or app installs. Your focus is on how many services a customer is using out of all the services your product offers. How many support tickets are you getting for your products.
Mindset — At Paytm or Tokopedia, you can take more risk because you always have a fallback scenario. At Branch, the responsibility increases, because you are helping other people run services, run campaigns worth millions of dollars. If your product has a bug or fails, the impact will be not only disappointed customers for you, but the potential monetary loss to your customer and bad experience for their customers. So, you have to be extra careful and having your service up becomes of utmost importance. This doesn’t mean at Paytm or Tokopedia this is not important, but there your image and trust are at stakes, here your clients’ relationship with their customer is at stakes.
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I talk about PM, different cultures, philosophy, and lessons learned while building a startup (Zeda.io).