Facebook Coin – A closer look

fbThis is the second initiative from Facebook after they tried to introduce Facebook Credits* (see below for the details) during 2011 and was not successful. This time it may translate into a success due to the following reasons. I am keeping the arguments on the centralization, stable coin and comparison with Bitcoin to a later post.

  1. Feasibility of massive adoption: Facebook, WhatsApp, and Telegram combined user base of over 2.7 billion. WhatsApp alone has more than 1 billion daily active users and crypto transfer can be a click of a button and trust is pre-established. Telegram biggest messaging applications in South Korea and Japan, Kakao & Line.
  2. Similar successful products in the market: Venmo has taken off in the United States by making it easier to send payments by phone. And in China, many consumers use the payment system that operates inside the hugely popular WeChat messaging system.
  3. Ease of opening a Facebook account compared to a bank account. Regulation and compliance is the next big puzzle to solve for Facebook.
  4. Coin backing with fiats making it more versatile: Unlike JPM Coin backed by USD alone, Facebook could guarantee the value of the coin by backing every coin with a set number of dollars, euros, and other national currencies held in Facebook bank accounts.
  5. Coin launch followed by Blockchain adoption making it a robust approach: As Facebook recently revealed their plans to integrate blockchain technology into Facebook Login and betting on blockchain technology by bringing data security aspects, it seems like the next level details on FC will be very interesting.

The big question facing Facebook is how much control it would retain over the digital coin. If Facebook is responsible for approving every transaction and keeping track of every user, it is not clear why it would need a blockchain system, rather than a traditional, centralized system like PayPal. Let us follow another interesting development.


* Facebook Credits was a virtual currency that enabled people to purchase items in games and non-gaming applications on the Facebook Platform. One USD was the equivalent of 10 Facebook Credits. Facebook Credits were available in 15 currencies including U.S. dollars, Pound, Euros, and Danish Kroner.  It was expected that Facebook would eventually expand Credits into a micropayments system open to any Facebook application, whether a game or a media company application. While the Facebook Credits website is still active, Facebook has announced that it is doing away with Facebook Credits in favor of local currency

Crypto adoption is next on the radar

Image result for bitcoin adoptionAs progress is made in solving bitcoin trilemma, Decentralization – Security – Scalability, the next focus area is increasing the adoption rate. With a lot of lull in the crypto market until recently, the subject of crypto adoption is being echoed by adversaries and supporters to prove their point of views. In this blog post, I will be taking a closer look at drivers of crypto adoption.

  • Samsung Galaxy S10 is unveiling the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies with future built-in and secure mobile technologies. Galaxy S10 is built with defense-grade Samsung Knox, as well as secure storage backed by hardware, which houses your private keys for blockchain-enabled mobile services. Would this take the crypto to the hands of mass? Here are the details.

    https://news.samsung.com/us/samsung-galaxy-s10-more-screen-cameras-unpacked-2019/

  • tippin.me get tips lightning fast. Twitter with 270million+ users has integrated tipping service on lightening network. Lightning Network is a technology built on top of Bitcoin that provides instant micro-payments almost for free. Tippin.me makes Lightning Network easier, by giving you a simple web custodial wallet to receive and manage Bitcoins through Lightning Network. Join now to start receiving tips and micro-payments right away, just sharing a link. There are a lot of features in the roadmap if this gets traction: integration with merchants, better wallet functionality, etc.
  • Lightning Network, beyond the above use case, is enabling Scalable, instant blockchain transactions for the future. The drawbacks to bitcoin’s decentralized design are that the transactions confirmed on the bitcoin blockchain take up to one hour before they are irreversible. Micropayments, or payments less than a few cents, are inconsistently confirmed, and fees render such transactions unviable on the network today. The Lightning Network solves these problems. Crypto users are soon experiencing scalable ad low-cost instant payments with an ability of cross-chain atomic swaps.
  • Making buying easy: As the avenues to buy Bitcoin gets easy and so the adoption. Since Virwox shut down its PayPal deposits in January 2019 it got really hard to obtain Bitcoins through a PayPal account. The two main methods that still allow you to buy Bitcoins with PayPal are, eToro – for those who only speculate on price and don’t need access to the actual coins and LocalBitcoins – for those who want to actually withdraw their Bitcoin to their own wallet
  • Spontaneous liquidity is becoming reality with Coinbase cash withdrawals to Paypal. Starting in December 2018, U.S. customers can instantly withdraw Coinbase balances to PayPal, providing even faster access to their funds through one of the world’s easiest and most widely-used payment platforms. These withdrawals are not only fast; they’re free and incur no fees.
  • Troubled Economies. One of the Satoshi Nakamoto’s vision for inventing Bitcoin was helping the troubled developing nations to get out of their misery brought upon them by their flawed centralized banking systems. Venezuela is one such country which has seen its financial economy go down the drains, the inflation has made their fiat not even worth the paper they are printed on. When all doors seem closed for Venezuela including petro coin (due to technical weakness), Bitcoin came in as the savior they were looking for. The government legalize the use of Bitcoin in the country and are looking to incorporate it in their financial system so that citizens can use Bitcoin in their day-to-day life.

Alongside all the above parameters, crypto wallets, transaction volumes, computing power, ETFs and Futures, games, arts, web searches for bitcoin terms, and industry hirings, shows bitcoin and crypto adoption is on an upward trajectory.

Combating Counterfeiting with Blockchain Technology

UntitledLet’s visualize, you walk into a jewelry store and see a very aesthetic diamond necklace you were dreaming to buy to your fiancé on Valentine Day. What if you have a technology at hand that make sure the jewelry is authentic. Self-authentication is seemingly the need for many consumers buying various products before making a purchase to avoid fake in a world of counterfeiting. As per OECD estimates, global trade-related counterfeiting accounts for 2.5% of world trade, or 461 billion USD in 2016.

Going back to the diamond necklace purchase scenario, let us visualize that you have an application on your phone and scan the necklace. The application tells you if necklace is real or not. Further to that application (a DApp on a Blockchain) displays a video of the designer explaining why you should select that precious necklace. You may find out that the necklace you like is a very limited edition and only 50 persons on the globe can have such a necklace. You can’t resist anymore and you just buy the necklace. After buying it, you ask the seller to transfer the ownership to you. They show you a QR-code, for instance, on their phone, you flash it with the app and declaring to everybody in the Blockchain that this necklace, one of few of the limited edition, only 50 pieces in the world, belongs to You.

The use case explained above is very much coming into reality with Blockchain enabled ant-counterfeiting platforms. Startups like Everledger, veChain, Chronicled, BlockVerify, Digmus etc. are offering Blockchain solutions for anti-counterfeiting. In today’s world counterfeiting plagues supply chains affecting consumers and businesses in many ways including the product under your possession can be a counterfeit or a products on the go can get diverted to a new destination or products gets stolen or products tied to fraudulent transactions / money laundering. Counterfeiting is widely present across industries ranging from luxury goods, diamonds, pharmaceuticals, wines/whisky, electronics, semiconductors, many retail products.

Why Blockchain Technology is promising in anti-counterfeiting?

Counterfeiting is basically a double-spend problem – the very problem the initial bitcoin blockchain was designed to solve. Blockchain offers a transparent environment where it is impossible to duplicate products. Enterprises can create registries of their products and monitor supply chains leveraging cryptographically secure mechanisms for anonymously transferring the identity of products as they move through multiparty supply chains.

Anti-Counterfeiting Blockchain Platform (ACBP) primarily has two key constituents. One is a Blockchain that acts as the storage of unique products identifiers and history of product transfer between parties. Blockchain technology can check the brand authenticity, issue crypto certificates and stores product information and additional data to verify authenticity. The second constituent is offering better UX to end user with a DApp which will be used to verify the product and provide verification for additional authenticity. With the advent of core technology and UX, ACBP identifies the product as it moves through the supply chain and alert the blockchain network if a duplicate shows up to the existence and location of a counterfeit.

Challenges of Blockchain anti-counterfeiting platforms and future focus areas:

Enterprises and blockchain communities have t aim overcoming the following potential challenges to deploy Blockchain Technology for anti-counterfeiting solutions.

  • High volumes and underlying transaction fees: Blockchain comes very handy for very high value goods with low volumes without above said problem. But for Anti-counterfeiting blockchain platform to scale up to serialization in overcoming counterfeiting, it has to provide individual tracking of high-volume items with relative low value may not be viable. A potential solution to this is moving certain types of transactions into off-chains where they are processed, freeing up the blockchain for its primary role as a distributed ledger. The popular off chain solutions being piloted recently are
    • Lightening Network for Bitcoin
    • Plasma & Raiden Network for Ethereum
  • Public vs private blockchain for anti-counterfeiting: As decried above limitations of public blockchain like Bitcoin Blockchain is lack of handling high volume (consider a manufacturer producing a millions of products per day) at speed and underlying fees for these transactions would be several hundred thousand USD per day. However, going with private Blockchain has its downside: it give an opportunity to fiddle with data in some scenarios. To get the best of both worlds – performance and low cost of private Blockchain, and trust of public Blockchain, is a hybrid blockchain. Data is kept in a private Blockchain, but on regular intervals the control checksums of private Blockchain are persisted in a public network, which makes it is impossible to corrupt or modify existing records.
  • Data Privacy: Anti-counterfeit systems need to find a balance between privacy and transparency. Blockchain was designed having transparency and anonymity in mind, while leaving enough freedom for developers to decide on the level of anonymity and transparency Blockchain-based solution should have. Finding the right balance is one of the toughest challenges, as increase in transparency kills anonymity and vice versa. One way to handle data privacy is separating public data that is necessary to validate product from sensitive data. Sensitive data is then encrypted and securely stored off-chain. This way only users who possess eligible identity, such as representatives of governments or controlling organizations, are allowed to read protected data.

To summarize, Blockchain enabled distributed ledger technology can provide a way for large groups of unrelated companies to jointly keep a secure and reliable record of their products and transactions.Reducing costs and time by eliminating the need for third parties that administer ledgers and clear transactions has business benefits that can improve the profitability of blockchain adopters for anti-counterfeiting. The promising features of blockchain is undoubtedly positioning this new technology a means for anti-counterfeiting.

Pragmatic Approaches to Blockchain Adoption

Adoption

As Blockchain Technology is gaining a broader acceptance, one of the lingering problem is on mainstream adoption of new technology. Blockchain as a technology can be used as an exchange network to complete transactions, move value and assets amongst peers on the network without the need for any 3rd party intermediary to validate or maintain these movements, and presumably at a lower underlying fees.

The core principles of blockchain sound great promising the blockchain technology’s viability across many fields with an opportunity to serve part of $3 Trillion global markets as follows,

  • Address part of global remittances which are of the magnitude of $444B annually (2017 world economic forum data),
  • Online/ecommerce payments of $2.1+ Trillion (based on latest data compilation from Invesp),
  • Global micro transactions of magnitude $500B+
  • Think of transactions of 2B+ unbanked people as per World Bank statistics.

While blockchain technology has potential in shaping the various markets and industries, let us dive deeper into finding pragmatic approach to adopting this new technology, key areas of concerns and evolving solutions in an attempt to sustain the innovative edge.

Blockchain adoption approaches:

The anomalies and contraries of public vis-à-vis private blockchain plays an important role in evaluating adoption approaches. The optimal adoption approach of blockchain depends on the nuances within the context of a company or group of companies or industries. The top two characteristics that drive the adoption is utility and speculation. While utility is to do with means of enabling transaction of buying or selling products and services, speculation comes from the investment eye of user/investor in terms of returns expected from adoption of technology. We drive deeper on these characteristics in determining the pragmatic approaches in adopting blockchains.  Refer to my blog page to brush up on basics of private vs public blockchain @ https://akshinthalakk.com/blockchain/

Public blockchain:

“Public Blockchain” offers an ability in maintaining both anonymity and transactional transparency. Most popular public blockchain like Bitcoin blockchain facilitates Monet-over-Internet-Protocol (MoIP) with progressive track record of use cases in B2B payments, remittances, online payments etc. Cryptocurrencies or “Coins” such as bitcoin are just value exchange applications built on top of blockchain technology. Cryptocurrencies were instrumental in demonstrating the power of blockchains and the many applications that blockchains will support and power. Due to technical limitations of Bitcoin blockchain like lack of coding Loops that limits proliferation of distributed applications on Bitcoin and complexities of UTXOx (Unspent Transaction Outputs) that makes implementation of smart contracts tougher, led to other popular public blockchains like Ethereum blockchain. Ethereum enables ease of creation of smart contracts and democratize application on top of underlying blockchain. Similarly the race for privacy has led to other public blockchains like Monero, ZCASH and DASH.  All the above public blockchains underpins both utility and speculation. Utility by virtue of completing transactions and moving assets paying premium for utility with localized cryptocurrencies bitcoin, ether, litecoin, monero etc. and drive speculation with sheer value appreciation of cryptocurrencies over time. Collectively there are close to 900 “Coins” are available to steer the public blockchain adoption by incentivizing the utility and as well as fueling the speculation.

“Blockchain Platform” is another means of driving the public blockchain momentum. Platform allows development of various applications (a.k.a dApps) serving numerous use cases. Any of the above public blockchains can offer Platforms for the development of dApps, but the technical limitations of Bitcoin as narrated above allowing Ethereum to drive the momentum of public blockchain adoption with robust community building applications on the Ethereum platform. Alongside Ethereum, there are a variety blockchain platforms came into brining decentralized ledger technology (DLT) one step closer to the reality. As per the Coinmarketcap.com data, there are more than a dozen blockchain platforms like Counterparty, NEM, NEO, Omni, Waves etc. exists today for the user and business to choose from based on their specific needs of privacy, security, scalability and gas requirements. When adopting to these Platforms, blockchain community got another flexibility in terms of “Tokens”. Tokens differ from cryptocurrencies.  Instead of developing application leveraging native cryptocurrency based public blockchain platforms, nonnative currencies known as tokens can be used to incentivize the utility of the Platform. Such tokens are EOS, TRON which are used as an alternative to “ether” currency on Ethereum platform. Collectively there are nearly 540 tokens available across 13 Platforms as of Jan 2018 that could potentially expedite the adoption of public blockchain. By embracing the full power of tokenization and platforms lead communities to deliver on the full promise of blockchain technology and ultimately, the allure of the public network.

Let us look at potential real life use cases of public blockchains. What if a vending machine that can monitor and report its own stock, and accept bids from distributors and make payments automatically via micro transactions for delivery of new SKUs? Bitcoin acceptance for online payments at many mainstream businesses such as Microsoft, Dell, OpenBazar and Overstock are few real life examples. This is how public blockchain may drive value convergence in future endeavors.

Private blockchain:

“Private Blockchain” becomes relevant if anonymity in transactions is not the top priority for companies or group of companies. Private blockchain can be secured by the familiar model of user rights and secrets that organizations are comfortable with over a longtime while still maintaining many kinds of partial guarantees of authenticity and decentralization that blockchains provide. Another use of private blockchain is for testing and experiment purposes. Private blockchain mainly focus on utility with or in most cases without any incentives and without aiding speculation as there need not to be an underlying “Coin or Token”.

Private blockchain can be started as a first step in blockchain adoption. Enterprises with a private blockchains start operating like distributed databases and notary services, often with very specialized objectives, such as tracking product origin and status. Private blockchain ca reduce transaction costs and data redundancies and replaces legacy systems, simplifying document handling and getting rid of semi manual compliance mechanisms. While private blockchain can be a useful start, but not a permanent solution as at maximum it offers hacker-proof database, where the software replaces a central bank as the intermediary of choice. Another downside is with write permissions being kept centralized to one organization and read permissions may be public or restricted to an arbitrary extent, the owner with a master key defeats the purpose of having a blockchain database in the first place. In a way private blockchain can be compared to an intranet with private LANs or WANs instead of using the public Internet and not leveraging full potential of blockchain technology. Private blockchains typically start with a single application and progressively extended to building interfaces across multiple applications and then extending to bigger ecosystem of cross-company landscape. That being said let us examine some private blockchain examples.

MultiChain is an off-the-shelf platform for the creation and deployment of private blockchains, either within or between organizations. It aims to overcome a key obstacle to the deployment of blockchain technology in the institutional financial sector, by providing the privacy and control required in an easy-to-use package. The other one is MONAX open platform private blockchains.

Federated Blockchains or Consortium Blockchains:

A mid path to public and private blockchain is a federated Blockchain that operate under the leadership of a group or Consortium. As opposed to public Blockchains, they don’t allow any person with access to the Internet to participate in the process of verifying transactions. Federated Blockchains are faster (higher scalability) and provide more transaction privacy. Consortium blockchains are mostly used in the banking sector. The consensus process is controlled by a pre-selected set of nodes; for example, one might imagine a consortium of 15 financial institutions, each of which operates a node and of which 10 must sign every block in order for the block to be valid. The right to read the blockchain may be public, or restricted to the participants. Examples of consortium blockchains include, R3 for Banks, EWF from Energy, B3i for Insurance, Corda etc.

Vitalik Buterin, co-founder/creator of Ethereum said as follows on private/consortium blockchains:

“The consortium or company running a private blockchain can easily, if desired, change the rules of a blockchain, revert transactions, modify balances, etc. In some cases, e.g. national land registries, this functionality is necessary; there is no way a system would be allowed to exist where Dread Pirate Roberts can have legal ownership rights over a plainly visible piece of land, and so an attempt to create a government-uncontrollable land registry would in practice quickly devolve into one that is not recognized by the government itself….

Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS):

While blockchain adoption approaches of public vs private vs federated is an ongoing debate, leading technology providers has started offering blockchain as a service construct in setting up an environment to test and research blockchain adoption approaches leveraging their cloud offerings. Microsoft has partnered with ConsenSys to offer Ethereum Blockchain as a Service (EBaaS) on Microsoft Azure. IBM(BueMix) has partnered with Hyperledger to offer BaaS to its customers. Amazon announced they would be offering the service in collaboration with the Digital Currency Group

In summary..

As enterprises mulls on pragmatic approaches to blockchain adoption, from the above description one can draw few primary approaches to blockchain adoption as described below.

  1. Jump start with ready-to-go public blockchains”. Start developing blockchain using the tools provided by the Ethereum, Bitcoin, Ripple etc. Serves the need of trust less, anonymous, transparent system with low transaction fees.
  2. Leverage ready-to-develop private blockchain platforms”. Get on to blockchain bandwagon leveraging open development tools of MultiChain and MONAX overcoming a key obstacle to the deployment of blockchain technology in the institutional financial sector, supply chain management, asset origination & servicing, claims management etc. by providing the privacy and control required in an easy-to-use package.
  3. Adopt industry specific consortiums in building blockchains”. Leverage the vertical solutions offered by industry specific consortiums like R3 for Banks, Clearmatics for building out financial market applications to streamline payments and clearing and settlement processes etc.
  4. Build-on-demand blockchains with BaaS”. Take advantage of as-a-service models of ConsenSys to try out various scenarios and use cases to evolve the right path of adoption of blockchain technology.

Future of Mobile App Monetization

AP1

App monetization has created fortune for many gaining momentum over last decade and profoundly in last five years. News like “$240 million in customer purchases makes January 1, 2017 the App Store’s busiest day ever” is hitting the headlines. Apps revenues are more than doubled compared to 2014 levels, clocking $58 Billion in 2016 and estimated to reach $78B+ in 2017. In the backdrop of significant market opportunity, I would like to offer deeper insights on App marketplace, monetization business model and key trends evolving in this space.

App Market Insights

First let us look into the current App market landscape and key analytics with a deep dive into this opportunity space as presented in the info-graphic above.

App Monetization and Business Models

App developers can monetize their Apps in many ways. For example, Play Store and the App Store offer the same revenue-sharing terms to developers, ~70% of the amount paid by users goes to developers. Choosing a context specific business model plays a critical role in sustenance and growth. The following are key business models and their characteristics.

Business Model Key Characteristics
Free Model
  • Zero Price.
  • Increase User Base.
  • Generate Revenues with Ads.
Freemium Model
  • Zero Base Price.
  • Optional In-App Purchases (premium features, additional content, subscriptions, or digital goods etc.)
Paid Model
  •  Pay to Download App / But App Bundles for Discounts
  •  One Point of Monetization at the time of initial buy
  •  Outstanding design, functionality, and marketing
Paymium Model
  •  Combination of Paid & Freemium Models (Can Combine in App Bundles)
  • Pay to Download & Options to Buy Additional Features
Subscription Model
  •  Buy In-App Purchases (to access content, services, and experiences)
  •  Auto-Renewable or Now-Renewable (User Driven)
  •  Subscriptions can be offered in Freemium / Paymium models

App Trends

The following trends will continue to evolve in App development in perfect alignment with digital age.

  • Apps are becoming Artificially Intelligent
  • Embedded AR / VR technologies in Apps
  • Faster web page loading on mobile devices with Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
  • Cloud enablement of Apps with an ability of fetching data & analytics from cloud
  • Business processes and workflows are getting on Apps with the help of Micro services and componentization
  • In digital driven economy, m-commerce is becoming a new standard
  • Internet of Things is exploding Apps socialization
  • Location based services are gaining more traction
  • App security is becoming paramount

There is a promising future for value adding Apps. The current and future start up communities have to focus on developing high quality and contextual rich Apps and building tailored business models to succeed in next evolution of App marketplace. Reach out to me at Kishor.akshinthala@gmail.com for a deeper discussion on App Monetization.

e-Commerce Innovations for Vitamins

ecommerce

The size of ecommerce market of vitamin and mineral and supplements (VMS) crossed $2 billion and surpassed Walmart’s vitamin sales of $1.7 billion in 2016. VMS retailers are keen developing e-commerce strategies and integrate with digital commerce platforms identifying high impact opportunities in building competitive advantage driving next level growth.

New age business models combined with e/m-commerce is empowering VMS industry get better access to consumers, exponentially improve customer experiences, prioritize and drive next-gen innovations improving the future success rates. As an enthusiast envisioning the success of vitamin & supplements e-commerce and know-how of recent developments, summarizing below few specific developments in this space.

  • Vitamins are going direct-to-consumer: As 2017 progresses, consumers are willing to spend more for items that contribute to notions of self-care and wellness. With that the vitamin and dietary supplement (VMS) market is on an upward trend, a crop of new direct-to-consumer (D2C) startups came up to capture that. D2C’s are hoping to shake up the category and appeal to consumers with transparency, simplicity and branding. Care/of and Ritual, two high-tech brands that are poised to become the Warby Parkers of the supplement world.
  • Focus on price-to-weight ratio attaining economic sustainability: As online channels ex; Amazon, surpassing the critical volumes of VMS supply, there is an increasing focus on consumer behavior of purchases of only a single SKU remedy or supplement that can present a price-to-weight challenge for the seller. For business sustenance, the profit margin on the purchased item must be greater than the shipping cost in order for the seller to make money. For example, in case of Amazon where per package shipping costs range from $4.00 to $6.00, the breakeven order price for the SKU must be at least $12.00 to $15.00 in order for the transaction to be profitable. This offer a leeway to both the OTC and vitamin/health categories as the single items often meet this type of price-to-weight requirement. When a customer buys a bottle of fish oil for $17.00 or an order of Mucinex for $23.00, the sales model is working and makes eCommerce model viable.
  • OTC extending to in-home with 3D printing: In recent times FDA has approved Spritam, an anti-seizure drug and the first 3D-printed pill. This will bring use of technology one step closer to change the way people are experiencing medicine. In the future, it may even be possible to print vitamin and supplement pills at home There are already a great number of startups focusing on personalizing healthcare (with the help of AI) and making it as easily accessible as possible- in your own home. So, if companies can look at this new channel as a potential source of revenue, it could probably disrupt OTC and healthcare itself. Augment it with telemedicine, and you really could even eliminate some/much of the retail pharmacies today, while really personalizing treatment.
  • AI and ML aided search algorithms are becoming backbone to Vitamin & supplement e-commerce success: If a remedy works for one person, it may work well for another. And vice versa. That’s why the importance of ratings and reviews may be more important in the OTC and vitamin/health categories than in any other category. A good product review is not only a persuasive endorsement that helps drive conversion, it’s also an important component in strengthening a brand’s search rankings. Hence search algorithm is not only powered by the number of reviews a product has, but also by the pace at which new reviews are being added. If a product has too few reviews or not enough positive reviews, people simply won’t buy.
  • Search is critical to success online/e-commerce channels: In gig economy to take full advantage of e-commerce, it is vital for vitamin/supplement suppliers to know precisely how people are searching for its products. What key words are they using? Are there search trends? What is the frequency of searches for “pain reliever” or “headache” or “migraine”? When suppliers are selling in-demand products, they’ve got to make sure their content is relevant to those searches, including product titles, description and bullets, that clearly communicates the benefits and features of what’s being sold. Advances of AI and Machine Learning are aiding to find the patterns and triggers of consumer purchases and behaviors.
  • Ecommerce combined with personalization will lead the vitamin / supplement market: The long-term winners in this space will leverage data and their knowledge of their consumers to proactively offer products that fit their customers’ health needs and provide a degree of personalization and intimacy that don’t exist yet on a broad scale. The levels of personalization will be necessary in upcoming fights against the biggest e-dog of all, Amazon, which also has access to an immense database of purchasing history that it can use to push personalized consumer health options. Amazon offers rush delivery for a variety of over-the-counter products and vitamins and dietary supplements through its Amazon Prime Now service that is operational in around 30 metropolitan areas. Earlier this year, Amazon also quietly expanded its private-label line Amazon Elements into a handful of clean-label vitamins and supplement categories, which perhaps is a signal of the company’s intent to fully jump into this space and opportunistically fill the potential void if GNC and the Vitamin Shoppe continue to decline. As more consumers each day are showing a declining link to physical stores, Amazon has the ability to step in and dominate the market for these products much in the way it has for so many other household staples.

Vitamin & supplements market will continue evolve leveraging e/m-commerce strategies. Constant innovations in this space are what we continue to explore into future. So VMS value chain partners have to collaborate co-innovating e/m-commerce models, offer value based services, identify future direction and collectively come up with a path to succeed.