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How This Vietnamese Start-up is Converting Visitors into Customers

The glitch that launched UseData

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BY Ezra Ferraz - 12 May 2017

converting visitors into customers

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Few tech start-ups can claim they started due to a technical glitch, but Vietnam’s UseData sure can.

Nguyen Cao was working for VNG, where he created a web traffic analytics dashboard that served more than 10,000 online merchants. He did not think much of the project until a bug in their system prevented the merchants from accessing the dashboard. They flooded the customer support team with complaints about being unable to get important information from the dashboard.

“By that time, I learned that understanding consumers’ behaviors and interests could help online merchants operate a lot more efficiently. Later, I decided to start UseData, to bring this kind of consumer/customer understanding to every small/medium sized business who does not have enough resources to build the whole system from scratch,” Cao says.

The value of UseData is that it helps merchants optimize costs as well as increase revenues through tracking customer interactions, analyzing their interests over time through past behavior and buying records, and engaging with them through relevant content.

As an example, UseData knows what search keywords, landing pages, and referral sources drive the most sales, which can enable merchants to optimize their merchandising plan and marketing campaigns appropriately. “Eventually, that could save the cost of acquiring a customer,” Cao says.

Cultural issues in marketing

Though an end-to-end solution like UseData can bring significant value to an online merchant, Cao says he has many cultural issues to contend with. He says that many e-commerce merchants in Vietnam are attached to mass email or telemarketing methods.

“Helping them understand that there is a better way to build a sustainable business and long-time relationship with their consumers by engaging them with relevant content at the right time seems to take quite a lot of time,” he says.

To address this problem, Cao tries to get as much sales and customer support teams to use their product, so they can realize how marketing automation and real-time analytics can help increase revenue and retention.

UseData is still an early stage start-up. Most of their 200 merchants have been obtained through partnerships with Haravan.com and Bizweb.vn in Vietnam. The company is currently offering these merchants their platform for free. “In exchange we just get their data to build our data system to make them more and more intelligent over time,” Cao says, noting they may release their app on Shopify within a month’s time.

Cao believes UseData will be able to scale when time comes. He acknowledges that there are already many international competitors in this space, but he feels UseData has an edge over them.

“Currently, most competitors provide either analytics or recommendation. We are different. We integrate both people analytics and recommendation into one single platform to provide better insights and better conversion,” he says, adding that while most competitors focus on serving English language websites, they are focused on capturing their Vietnamese home base.

To fuel UseData’s growth, Cao is currently raising a seed round, and the company is exploring innovations in big data and artificial intelligence that could help more SMEs transform themselves into data-driven businesses.
Looking at Vietnam’s software industry as a whole, Cao believes it holds a lot of promise.

“We have quite a few, good software outsourcing companies in the past and that helps a lot in attracting more engineers to join the labor forces. We also have lower price comparing to other countries like India. I think young Vietnamese people are willing to learn new things, not just focusing into one specific topic/area,” he says.