Neopost takes GMC to SMB market

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Apr 6, 2015

Three years after the GMC acquisition, Neopost has done what it said it would do at time of the purchase— adapt the high-end GMC document composition technology as a scaled-down SaaS offering available for its many Small & Medium sized Business (SMB) customers.

Called neoPreference, and marketed by Neopost (not GMC), the solution focuses on helping SMB companies create, send and archive multi-channel communications. Through a print driver, an existing structured document such as an invoice, newsletter or statement can be submitted to the system. At time of writing, the system accepts MS Excel, MS Word, or PDF files and converts them into HTML. At this point, users (using a web-based interface ) need to identify data capture areas (see Figure 1), setup business rules or specify document enhancements just once to create the document template. Once the business rules or document enhancements have been specified and the rules are activated, each subsequent document submission will follow an automated workflow that enables document enhancements, digital signatures (for secure invoicing), multi-channel output, cloud-based archiving and tracking of electronic communications.

Over the last two years, Neopost has worked closely with GMC to adapt the GMC technology so that its composition technology can be deployed in a scalable, multi-tenant cloud environment. Neopost has also developed a new web-based interface that sits as a wrapper around the GMC technology. All in all, the solution looks very user friendly and opens Neopost and GMC up to a much wider audience than going to the SMB market with the way-too-powerful (and expensive) GMC Inspire technology.

Figure 1: Data Capture in neoPreference


Data Capture in neoPreference

Screenshot showing how neoPreference users can identify the email address area on an invoice (which was originally submitted to the system out of MS Excel using a print driver), which can then be used for sending electronic communications

Neopost will work on a phased launch starting in the UK and US, followed by other countries in Europe. Pricing at the time of briefing was rather high for the SMB market (the lowest band was around £20/month which included 50 communications and up to £0.50 for additional communications), but we expect Neopost to adjust when they get better insights from their subscribers. Adobe, for instance, lowered their prices a number of times in the first few months after the Creative Cloud introduction.

InfoTrends Opinion
The neoPreference solution is Neopost’s answer to the complexities that many of its SMB customers face in dealing with multi-channel communications. Similar to large enterprises, SMB companies are under pressure to communicate across multiple channels and engage better with their customers, but are typically much more constrained in terms of skills, time, and resources. Developing a simple-to-use SaaS solution built on market-leading composition technology is a very compelling approach.

Nevertheless, we know from research that SMB companies are extremely price conscious and are hesitant to invest in software unless there is an absolute need to do so. The ROI that favors automated composition solutions is a much more difficult proposition for SMBs; they would rather make a PDF from an Microsoft Excel invoice and email them out themselves vs. paying for a solution that enables them to do this automatically. Adding digital signatures and providing an archive are good steps, but still I wonder if it is enough to convince cash-strapped SMBs to invest. If functionality can be added to help companies  track incoming payments, or send automatic payment reminders to drive costs out of their payment administration or decrease Days Sales Outstanding, that would potentially be much more convincing for the SMB. Nevertheless, the initiative enables Neopost to go after the large SMB market and they have a platform now that they can further develop until they get it right. There’s no doubt that SMB customers can benefit from the automation and document capabilities that neoPreference offers, and Neopost has thought hard to make it intuitive and easy to use.

InfoTrends has done various studies in the SMB market, including the Capture the SMB Marketing Automation Opportunity. InfoTrends has also recently launched a new Customer Engagement technology advisory service.

 

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