In August, 2Performant Network migrated 2Parale’s entire portfolio on the global 2Performant.com platform following an over EUR 300,000 investment. BR talked with Bogdan Aron, chief product officer 2 Performant, to find out more about the company’s main challenges and path until now, but also about what lies in its future.
What were your expectations while launching 2Performant?
We aimed at growing our business on the markets we were already on, like Romania and Bulgaria, and start testing affiliate marketing in the region. But basically, with 2Performant we can provide affiliate marketing for any business and any affiliate anywhere in the world.
This was also a great chance for online stores from Romania that are looking to expand abroad, giving them the chance to gain sales on the new markets through affiliate marketing using a platform that they already knew.
The new platform enables us to constantly develop new features dedicated to our users and to adjust it as we expand even more.
How had they changed and why?
Promoting a new online service in new markets, especially where the concept behind is not well known can be a challenge. Also, another challenge is to adjust your approach to different markets and cultures and yet make it as universal as possible.
How has the company’s positioning change during time?
It first started out as a marketing services company and after acquiring the technology behind it, we started to learn developing the product too, not only operating it. Also, in the beginning we were more inclined to several restrictions for our users. Eventually we decided to be only the environment that ensures all rules of the game are respected – functional tracking code, clicks and commissions monitoring, educational and motivational actions. We are making sure everything is ok technologically and legally wise so both affiliates and advertisers can do their best to maximize their results.
What do you consider to be the best moments in the company’s history so far?
2Parale was the first version of the platform and was created by Radu Spineanu in 2008. Its purpose was to better the Romanian online market and develop a new generation of entrepreneurs. Soon after, the project received its first investment round, at NetCamp.
The following year, the business lead was taken over by Dorin Boerescu, the current CEO of 2Performant. The same year brings the first affiliate challenge in the network.
A year from the first challenge, the platform starts generating over 1 million clicks per month. We also start the series of affiliates and advertisers meet-ups and events.
2011 is the year of expansion: 2Leva – another affiliate network dedicated to the Bulgarian market comes to life.
Black Friday starts getting serious in affiliate marketing the next year. 2012 is the year that brings along 2Parale RealTime, a landing page that shows the generated sales in the platform in real time. This full year is also about acquiring the technology behind the actual platform and the fusion between 2Parale and 2Performant as companies.
2013 opens up the network for more advertisers. In 2014, 2Parale gets another round of investments and 2015 is the year the new 2Performant platform is welcome to this world.
2016 gives way to the migration of the whole 2Parale user portfolio to the new and shiny brand. The migration project was impressive: we moved the entire portfolio of 50,000 users without downtime for our most important services. Also, 2016 came with the most important publishing project of ours, Pink Crayon – an online show about marketing and technology.
What made you decide to extend the company in the region and do you see the Romanian companies extending on the regional level?
The Romanian Ecommerce market is already grown up and there are several players that are ready to expand their business to new markets and we are here to support them. Also, there are other regional players that are entering the Romanian markets or need to be promoted in several other countries.
Elefant has 2 affiliate programs in Romania and Moldova, Kalapod is present in Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary and Delticom, the biggest European tyre retailer is present in over 8 markets (Hungary, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Estonia and Latvia). 2Performant is the quick access to the affiliate network they are familiar with to gain sales in the whole region. The affiliates are generating sales in several countries, using one platform and they can withdraw their earnings with one contract and one payment request.
The online culture overcomes the local one. Why? Because our users, even if they speak different languages, they all speak the language of online. This way, a PPC specialist from Romania will be able to promote a store from Australia, while an Indian programmer is surely able to develop a project for any of the European markets.
Do you have global expansion ideas?
Internet has changed the world irreversibly. An online business can operate in any corner of the world. That is why we are looking at the possibility to test affiliate marketing in any country on Earth that has internet.
What is different in the Romanian e-commerce industry versus the one in the region? What about a comparison with the Western Europe and the US? How far behind is Romania?
We may be a bit behind certain markets in Central and Eastern Europe, but the Romanian e-commerce market is catching up really nice. We have a big market, good internet and people with an open mind towards online shopping.
Presently the e-commerce market in Romania has topped EUR 1.4 billion (Gpec.ro), this figure excluding event tickets, plane tickets or travel packages, which, by the way, are all on the rise categories.
Romania has about 11 million Internet users, which is 56 percent of the country’s population. Out of these, about 6.7 million are online shoppers. The average online customer has made 8.2 purchases in a year and 90 percent of users opted for paying cash on delivery. The average cart value for domestic orders is EUR 40.
There are more than 5,000 active online stores in the Romanian market, with over 200 that have at least a EUR 1 million annual turnover. The highest sales levels were recorded in the IT&C, Fashion, Home&Deco and Children’s Products categories.
In 2015, the total online revenue in Europe was worth EUR 455.3 billion, and a growth of 12 percent is expected this year, according to ecommercenews.eu.
What are the main challenges you passed in the last 8 years of existence under the 2Parale umbrella?
Some of the most important moments in the 2Parale/2Performant history are tightly linked with the main challenges. Taking over the technology, starting a new affiliate network in Bulgaria, scaling for Black Friday both technical and business wise, building the new 2Performant network and most definitely migrating 2Parale to the new network are some of the challenges we have successfully overcome in the last 8 years.
What are the main things you’ve learnt and you would like to pass on?
During the last 8 years, we have learned as a team that the basis of what we do is transparency, integrity, performance focus and information sharing. All this lead to the growth of us as a business, as a team and also as individuals.
Another thing that turned us into what we are now is marketing democracy. According to this concept, marketing is for everybody. Any online store is welcome to our network and has a chance to get promoted and grow its sales. Similarly, anybody who has some basic knowledge of online marketing can become an affiliate and can start making money. Both advertisers and affiliates are responsible for their results and unlike other situations, in affiliate marketing results are proportional with the invested effort. The more work you put in, the more results you will see.
What we do as a market place is to ensure everything is going according to the rules of the game. We are tracking the clicks and the sales, we bring in more users and motivate and educate them.
What’s next for the company?
We are focusing on accelerating growth in Romania and Bulgaria and we are testing new markets. Consecutively, we are working on developing the product further and on expanding our team.
How did you think the new platforms in terms of functions, UX, technological upgrade etc.?
We started from our objective of having complete control over the infrastructure and adjusting the infrastructure to the needs of the development team, while the development process should adjust to the business needs. Now we are using several technologies, like Ruby on Rails, MySQL, MongoDB, Redis, Memcached, AngularJS, and Sidekiq. They are all hosted in Amazon Web Services.
The major benefit is that we can talk about fast upscaling, uptime / high availability, resource easiness, available documentation and automation. We have the ability and the infrastructure to upscale 10x, 20x, 100x within minutes an up to 1-2 hours.
We are using Rails security monitoring services Gemnasium, CircleCI for continuous testing, Pingdom, NewRelic + solutions that we have created for monitoring the platform services.
Regarding User Experience, the idea was that it shouldn’t affect in a negative manner the way users were already using the platform. And also because 2Parale was functioning well from the critical processes point of view. We have therefore picked the very essential functionalities, but we have considered the way we could improve the users’ interactions with them. Then, we wanted less noise. So we have taken out functionalities that were no longer in use or were used differently than they were supposed to.
We are using all kinds of tools to measure the user experience in our platform from Google Analytics to Hotjar. We also use specific tools for specific areas. For example, for the onboarding process we are testing 2 made in Romania tools: InnerTrends and onboardX.