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Zuora’s Subscription Billing Solutions: Built for the Subscription Economy

At first, the Internet economy was very basic: pay for an item, get an item. But like all economics, the model eventually evolved. Now, more consumers pay for a subscription service, and big players like Netflix, Spotify and Amazon have dominated the space early. However, an increasing number of businesses across different industries are offering subscription services as well. In fact, the market has grown by more than 100 percent a year, increasing from $57 million in sales in 2011 to $2.6 billion in 2016. Businesses are entering an era of the subscription economy, and the enterprise software firm Zuora Inc. is at the forefront of the shift. Its cloud-based platform provides comprehensive subscription billing solutions that enable companies to compete effectively in the growing subscription sector.

How the Zuora Subscription Model Is Transforming Businesses

The rise of subscription-based services comes from the increasing consumer demand for more flexible consumption models. Static offers and one-time transactions are no longer enough. Because of this, companies are switching from the traditional pay-per-product model to the subscription model.

Tien Tzuo, founder and CEO of Zuora, coined the term “subscription economy” to describe this booming business landscape.

a bar graph that shows the fact that customer usage of Zuora's subscription billing solutions has grown
As the numbers indicate, the industry for subscription billing solutions is growing —and Zuora along with it.

Both consumers and businesses benefit significantly from subscription billing solutions. Convenience, manageable pricing, and predictability are the main advantages for consumers. For businesses, aside from guaranteed recurring revenue, gains include better scaling, easy identification of buyer personas and various growth opportunities. Moreover, the subscription model allows better calculation of customer lifetime value, better inventory management, and more competitive pricing. Consequently, Fortune 500 giants who have realized how attractive these advantages are have adopted subscription billing platforms.

The subscription economy brings with it the demand for a completely distinctive approach to building businesses. Customer retention is prioritized over customer acquisition. Long-term relationships allow companies to capture more data on recurring behavior. These provide valuable insights that enable businesses to make more informed decisions on how to innovate and improve the customer experience.

According to Tzuo, such relationships lead to a sharper competitive advantage. “It’s easy to steal a product. It’s harder to steal the knowledge of your customers and relationships you have with them,” he writes in his book, “Subscribed: Why the Subscription Model Will Be Your Company’s Future—and What to Do About It”.

a photo quote of Maynard Webb's thoughts on Tien Tzuo and the latter's book, which emphasizes the advantages of subscription billing solutions
CEO Tien Tzuo is more than just the head of a company at the vanguard of subscription billing solutions —he’s also an author.

Choosing the Right Subscription Management System

To thrive in the subscription economy, businesses must grasp the power and competitive advantage that the right platform can provide. It can create new revenue opportunities, recover lost revenue and modify services in innovative ways.

An effective subscription management platform should allow easy adaption to rapid system changes. These include price adjustments, product stratification, and changing customer preference. It should also easily integrate with existing financial systems. Another consideration for choosing a subscription management system is its ability to streamline business processes. Needless to say, working with subscription billing platforms that lack agility and flexibility only adds unwarranted expense. Businesses must be quick, accessible and nimble. That’s what subscription billing systems need to be as well.

The Zuora billing system helps enterprises deliver a frictionless buying experience for customers and partners. The core platform acts as an intelligent management hub. It keeps track of subscription payments, invoices, pricing, product catalogs, and taxation. Zuora also offers reporting and analytics that provide access to customer demographics, behaviors, and financial performance. This scenario enables constant improvement of business results and enhanced development of subscriber relationships. Additionally, Zuora has an app development marketplace for customers that require third-party integrations.

Zuora steps ahead of the pack by providing relentlessly focused order-to-cash solutions. The company helps businesses rapidly transition to subscriber-centric, digitally-enabled business models.

Zuora: Powering the Subscription Economy Through Subscription Billing Platforms

Founded in 2007, Zuora is recognized as a leader in recurring customer and billing management. The firm currently serves more than 1,000 companies around the world. Clients include Ford, Zillow, General Electric and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, to name a few.

For years, Zuora and its CEO have been educating the business world about subscription billing solutions. Tzuo’s book serves as a definitive guide for how to succeed in the subscription economy.

a photo quote of Baba Shiv on the discussion around Zuora's subscription billing solutions
More and more industry insiders are coming on board to the viability of subscription economics —which means the Zuora billing system is in a strong position in the space.

Zuora also hosts a conference series called “Subscribed”. More than 10,000 people participate in the world-wide event each year to learn how to navigate the disruptive business model shift. The firm’s strong focus on thought leadership has made Zuora one of the biggest names in the subscription industry and software-as-a-service.

Zuora envisions a future where every business in the world will be part of the subscription economy. The company works towards achieving this goal by empowering businesses through its subscription management platform. Zuora’s bold vision is summed up with these words: “The World. Subscribed.”

a photo quote of Mike Volpi and his thoughts on Zuora subscription billing solutions and its successful IPO
Want a sure sign that a company specializing in subscription billing platforms is doing well? Look no further than the talk surrounding its IPO.

Leveraging Subscription Billing Solutions to Gain Competitive Edge

Though a subscription model can be very lucrative, it has several challenges. The large volumes of data gathered can be difficult to handle. Customer information needs to be collected, aggregated and analyzed in real time. All of these can only be done with the right technological tools that go beyond average subscription billing solutions.

A comprehensive subscription management platform such as the Zuora billing system can allow businesses to manage renewals, upgrades and contract terminations successfully. It also provides the ability to harness the wealth of data offered by the model entirely. This fact is essential when the formula for growth is focused on monetizing long-term relationships. Subscription businesses that operate with superior technical execution can perform better against companies that employ less flexible subscription billing platforms. With fewer disruptions, businesses can focus more on improving their products or services.  They are also able to attract more new customers and retain current subscribers.

The Zuora billing system anticipates even more of a worldwide shift to a subscription management platform
Consumers have come to appreciate the subscription economy more and more, which bodes well for Zuora subscription billing.

Subscription services are transforming the way we buy and sell. Companies realize that flat, two-dimensional transactions will no longer work. Likewise, consumers continue to look for more dynamic means of acquiring products and services. “In the future, all aspects of our lives will be run by subscription services,” says Tzuo.

Read more about Tien Zuo in this bold leader spotlight profiling him.

Bold Leader Spotlight: Tien Tzuo, Founder and CEO of Zuora

The business world is no stranger to the word “visionary”. It’s a concept that has been used frequently to describe individuals who defy norms with bold ideas. But what separates a visionary leader from a dreamer? For Tien Tzuo, Chief Executive Officer of Zuora, it’s the ability to see the potential for change combined with the ability to lead others in turning ideas into reality. That reality: the Internet’s shift from simple transactional economics to subscription-based economics. Through Zuora, Tzuo’s bold leadership challenged the status quo. It also empowered businesses by providing a platform that can help them compete in an era of the subscription economy.

As one of the earliest proponents of the subscription model, Tzuo is truly a disruptor in the tech sector. He continues to evangelize the shift to the subscription economy, both with a book and compelling predictions for the industry’s future.

For challenging the status quo with a bold vision and advocating a different direction for doing business, this week’s Bold Leader Spotlight belongs to Tien Tzuo.

Tien Tzuo of Zuora has used his bold leadership traits to help guide businesses into subscription economics.
With a bold leadership style that challenged the status quo, Tien Tzuo has managed to reshape the entire Internet business economic model.

The Path That Leads to Zuora

Growing up in Brooklyn in the 1970s, Tzuo was influenced by his parents’ entrepreneurial streak. The idea of starting his own company never intimidated him. Not surprisingly, he had a knack for technology as well.

At 18-years old, Tzuo built an accounting application for his father’s insurance brokerage. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University. It seemed like he was destined to become a technology entrepreneur all along.

Early in his career, bold leader Tzuo prioritized experience more than promotions. He geared himself toward lateral moves, changing roles every two or three years. He even once taught a coding class. After getting his Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, he linked up with Marc Benioff. The latter was just starting Salesforce, and Tzuo became the company’s eleventh hire.

Marc Benioff, Salesforce CEO understands Subscription billing platforms and Tien Tzuo of Zoura is the expert on the subject.
Former boss and investor Marc Benioff is bullish on subscription economics and recognizes Tien Tzuo’s vision and expertise in it.

At Salesforce, Tzuo continued his journey. Aside from being an original architect for the firm’s billing system, he also took on various roles across technology, marketing, and strategy organizations. He served as a chief marketing officer for two years and, then into his last role, as chief strategy officer. Benioff had a significant impact on Tzuo’s career. The idea for Zuora Inc. even came during a meeting they attended together. Benioff was also an investor in Zuora’s $6 million Series A funding round.

My First Encounter with Bold Leader Tien Tzuo – Remaking Dell Technologies

Shortly after his investment in Zuora Inc., Marc introduced me to Tien. At the time, Dell was in a phase of re-invention from a hardware to a business solutions provider. A major portion of this shift was acquiring new technologies (Boomi, Perot Systems, Everdream, MessageOne, KACE, and Secure Works). And undertaking a global transition to offering software and services as a subscription.

I was in the process of leading $100M+ a year Oracle Quote-to-Cash project that I soon learned could not deliver on this need. Shortly after this introduction, I met with Tien and asked him if Zuora could offer the solution. Tien jumped on the opportunity and worked diligently to help push the project forward. We linked Zuora with and integrated into our existing Financials system.

Tien was steadfast in his support and I witnessed a deep passion for not only his solution but in providing outstanding customer support. Throughout the process, he worked not only as a provider but a true partner in every sense of the word. In the end, through his hard work and that of Tim Dickson and the Dell team, a working solution was implemented less than a year later.

The Bold Leadership of Tien Tzuo—Fueled by a Bold Vision

Tzuo never really sought leadership, but when there was an opportunity, he took it. When he had the idea for Zuora, he knew that he had to make it happen, no matter what. His vision of taking subscription services to the next level—challenging the status quo—molded him to be the bold leader he is today.

Known for coining the term “subscription economy”, Tzuo helps businesses shift to the subscription model. The process calls for complex yet flexible software to manage all financial operations, from the customer order to recognizing revenue. Acquiring and billing customers seamlessly is also a must. Not only does Zuora provide that software, but it also helps clients get to know their customers better through data gathered from subscriptions.

Tien Tzuo of Zuora has helped guide his company to success.
Want to gauge the effectiveness of a bold leader? Then check out the success of its IPO.

Under the bold leadership of Tzuo, Zuora continues to be a leader in recurring customer and billing management. The company turned in third-quarter numbers in November 2018 with $61.6 million revenue. Currently serving 1,000 companies around the world, Zuora is also well placed to tap into sectors that are mid-disruption.

In the automotive industry, the firm is currently helping six of the top ten auto manufacturers provide subscription services. Viva, a company from the life sciences sector, is also a client. This proves that Tzuo’s goal to power the subscription economy is more than just a far-fetched vision.

Having the Humility to Improve as a Leader

Tzuo faced many challenges as a bold leader. In 2011, employees whom Tzuo had hired from Salesforce to join Zuora left the company.

Realizing that his high-intensity but impersonal leadership style was part of the reason why they left, he had the humility to acknowledge this truth, further evaluate himself and make changes.

From then on, Tzuo made sure to praise his staff when they did good work. He also changed the culture of the company, even taking the management team out for dinner and conducting team-building activities. Because of his bold leadership and willingness to recognize areas for improvement, Tzuo was able to gain the loyalty of an innovative and talented workforce.

Helping Others Succeed with a Passion for Sharing Knowledge

A bold leader is someone who provides guidance not only to his company but also to everyone else he can reach. Over the years, Tzuo has been educating leaders, businesses, and industries about the subscription economy. He feels passionate about teaching, and he upholds a culture of information-sharing at Zuora.

A photo quote of Tien Tzuo on bold leadership —leadership that entails challenging the status quo yet also requires humility.
The bold leadership of Tien Tzuo didn’t happen overnight – it took some work.

The Zuora founder wrote “SUBSCRIBED: Why the Subscription Model Will be Your Company’s Future – and What to Do About It”. He also gives numerous lectures to over 10,000 attendees at Zuora’s conference series “Subscribed,” which took place in 12 cities in 2018.  As one of the most prominent thought leaders in the subscription industry, Tzuo helps business leaders realize how the subscription model can transform their services.  He also serves as a mentor for founders of early-stage companies.

Tien Tzuo Zuora – Changing the Industry with Patience and Hard Work

One of the most important lessons that Tzuo gives to other aspiring leaders is that success takes time. “You have to go and pursue an idea, and you have to work it out. It takes a long time,” he says. “You plod away at something, and you try to go deep, immerse yourself, and learn. You try to take these leaps, and eventually, you hit upon your breakthrough.” His bold leadership is fearless, but it doesn’t take shortcuts.

With perseverance, hard work and a strong desire to make a difference, Tzuo continues to work in achieving his biggest goal. Years from now, the business world can expect Zuora to remain at the forefront of the subscription industry—all thanks to a visionary leader like Tien Tzuo.

a photo quote of Tien Tzuo noting that bold leadership is certainly bold when the status quo is changed because of it.
The bold leadership of Tien Tzuo likely won’t end with Zuora.

Want to read more about Zuora Inc.? Then check out this profile on the company.

How Quotient Technology Inc. is Disrupting Consumer Marketing

Consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies can no longer rely on traditional growth models. Amidst the magnitude and pace of change in the U.S. market, the $760 billion industry has been lagging behind other sectors with a flat annual average growth rate. With the prevalence of technological advancements, CPG brands need to quickly react to new trends. They also need to rethink entire marketing strategies to compete more effectively. Digital promotions and media platform Quotient Technology Inc. is helping many of them do just that.

Quotient Technology’s flagship consumer website,, also one of the leading digital coupon providers today, continues to serve shoppers with a collection of offers and discounts. The company helped consumers save a total of $5.4 billion. It happened by powering more than 3.5 billion digital coupon transactions in 2017. Its vast network of partners includes more than 2,000 brands and over 65,000 retail stores.

The end result was that Quotient Technology Inc. disrupted the promotions industry with record Q3 2018 revenue of $103.6 million for 2018, an improvement of 26% over a year ago. Innovations in media revenue and their Retailer iQ product catapulted much of the growth as CPGs shifted more of their $225+ Billion spend from offline to digital channels.

Digital Coupon Providers, hand of a woman handing out a credit card preparing to get a coupon
Print or digital coupons continue to be a huge part of consumers’ lives.

The Role of Coupons in Retail

Since  their introduction in 1887, coupons have become an invaluable part of the lives of shoppers. In fact, U.S. consumers saved $3.1 billion last year using coupons. These print or digital discount tools have been playing an important role in consumer marketing for many years.

For retailers and brands, couponing is a relatively easy way to attract new customers, build brand image and gain customer loyalty. These, in turn, translate to profits. Studies have even shown that habitual coupon users are willing to purchase products with a coupon even if it means spending more money. Another survey found that four in 10 grocery shoppers had bought more than they planned to because of a good deal.

The coupon has embedded itself in the consumer psyche. It has been adapting to where, when and how consumers would like to receive a deal.

Now, CPG companies are taking the marketing tool with them as they venture into the digital arena, albeit the slow progress. Perhaps digital coupon providers like Quotient Technology Inc. can help speed up growth.

digital coupon providers quotient ceo Mir Aamir quoted about company's strength
There is undeniable strength in digital marketing.

A Pioneer in the Digital Transformation of Coupons

The launching of Quotient Technology Inc. happened in 1998. It was after Founder and Executive Chairman Steven Boal saw his late father-in-law clipping coupons out of the Sunday newspaper. He learned that the industry hadn’t changed in 30 years. Steven Boal then set out to bring the multi-billion-dollar coupon business into the digital world. In 2001, Steven and his team issued their first digital coupon on a client’s website. Still named at the time, Quotient Technology Inc. disrupted in-store electronic marketing services and took away market share from competitors, most notably  Catalina Marketing (now Catalina), who pioneered 1:1 marketing of in-store coupon delivery.

Quotient Technology Inc. continues to lead the digital transformation of the promotions industry. The company began by allowing shoppers to print offers from as an alternative to paper clippings. Now, Quotient Technology also delivers coupons directly to shoppers through mobile apps as one of the most notable digital coupon providers in the country. It also powers digital coupon initiatives in online marketing campaigns of major CPG brands and retailers. Quotient Technology Inc. operates Retailer iQ, a digital coupon platform that provides real-time analytics.

digital coupon providers, quotient president and ceo Mir Aamir quoted about partnerships with retailers
Retailer partnerships are key to the revenue increase.

According to Mir Aamir, President, and CEO of Quotient Technology Inc., the company continues to accelerate, adding new solutions and enhancing technology. “Our platform combining digital promotions, media, and audience data, enables CPG brands and retailers to deliver digital marketing at high ROI effectively, and at scale,” he said in a press release statement. “We are increasingly becoming CPGs’ key digital marketing partner, as they look to shift more of their $225 billion in annual marketing spend from offline to digital.”

 Quotient Technology Inc. – Providing Intelligent Marketing through Consumer Analytics

Undoubtedly, the shift to digital has brought new consumer attitudes with it. It’s something, therefore, that digital coupon providers like Quotient Technology Inc. must take into consideration as they help CPG brands compete effectively. “The No. 1 trend is changing in expectations. There is a strong desire from consumers everywhere for relevance and personalization,” said Aamir. “Their patience for messages or offers coming from any business that is not personalized is running very thin.” The best way to meet this demand for personalization is through data., Quotient Technology’s main consumer app, has wide-ranging delivery capabilities. Most notable is the platform’s deep data assets. This, therefore, enables Quotient to target offers, digital advertising, and messages to consumers who are most valuable to a brand. Quotient Technology Inc. is one of the few marketing data providers that can tie in-store purchase data to online behavior data. It is complementing this data through its recent aqusition of SavingStar which is powering its enhanced CRM Technology.

Quotient Technology Inc. is able to provide its clients with unprecedented intelligence about each consumer. The process is done by integrating online and in-store data. Knowledge about past purchases and future-purchase intent lead to better-tailored promotions. In addition, data from the platform can further optimize returns on marketing campaigns.

The Opportunity to Dominate a Growing Market

Charlie Brown, Vice President of NCH Marketing services who conducted a report on CPG trends, said that the challenge lies in delivering the right coupon media mix. “Marketers are striving to continually optimize and improve results, and when it comes to coupons, that takes a bit of art and data science to build the appropriate coupon strategy,” he noted. “Companies who strike the right balance of print and digital media can expect improved results in a transforming CPG environment.”

Based on that statement, Quotient Technology Inc. is well-positioned to take charge as the digital transformation of coupons continues. There was a total of 293 billion coupon redemptions in the United States last year. More than 18 percent of them accounted for digital redemptions. Consumers still redeem four out of five coupons from traditional media. By continuing to pursue innovations aggressively, Quotient Technology Inc. can be the primary force in increasing redemption percentage for digital. The company should not stop from taking advantage of the prevalence of mobile marketing as well.

Digital Coupon Providers, Ronald Fior CFO Quotient Technologies Inc. quoted
It’s all about strategy.

Quotient Technology Inc.’s strong drive for growth comes from its Retailer iQ and Media solutions. It has a verified buyer audience base of over 100 million. It’s built from a comprehensive source of online and offline shopper data over the years. Now through acquisitions like SavingStar and social influencer company, Ahology, it is expanding its capabilities into paid social media solutions.

Quotient Technology Inc. is well-equipped to help more CPG brands and retailers grow in the digital age.

Urban Transport Problems and Solutions —How Are Companies Solving Future Urban Logistics Challenges?

Urbanization is expanding rapidly throughout the world. In fact, two-thirds of the world’s population will reside within urban centers by 2050. While this trend offers many opportunities and advantages, it also poses serious challenges. These challenges are readily apparent when it comes to urban logistics in transportation. With advances in e-commerce and with expanding urban populations, urban transport problems and solutions need to be addressed. Fortunately, many companies are accepting these challenges and pursuing strategies to find innovative solutions.

Major Areas of Urban Transport Problems and Solutions

As urban populations advance, several serious challenges exist when it comes to urban logistics. One of the most obvious issues involves air pollution and carbon emissions. Urban centers are imposing emission constraints in many areas to protect the environment. For example, London in 2019 will have zones that only permit ultra-low emissions in specific areas of the city. Zero-emission zones are planned for 2020. Though this case is certainly desirable, these policies cause delivery services serious urban logistics obstacles.

Other areas that relate to urban problems and solutions are those involving traffic and congestion. As e-commerce deliveries rise and urban populations grow, space constraints reflect additional problems for urban logistics.

In the recent Road to Sustainable Urban Logistics Survey, these concerns emerge as common among businesses. In fact, more than half of them state congestion is a major issue, with nearly 60 percent expressing concern about air quality. These issues are the major urban transport problems and solutions targets for businesses of the future.

a photo quote from John Alves on the discussion of urban transport problems and solutions
John Alves, Managing Director, McDonald’s Spain

Partnerships and Collaborations in Urban Logistics Are Essential

While businesses are among those most concerned about urban logistics problems, they are not alone. Municipalities are beginning to recognize and appreciate urban transport problems and solutions needs. Likewise, consumers will drive urban logistics solutions as the demand for efficient and timely deliveries are required.

As a result, collaborative partnerships are evolving to address these challenges. Such collaborative approaches facilitate the innovation and creativity necessary to overcome existing obstacles.

In Spain, McDonald’s offer a prime example of such partnerships. Overall, McDonald’s manages over 250 million miles in logistics transport. So, urban policies that constrain logistics pose significant challenges for the company. McDonald’s’ approach was to partner with Spanish companies HAVI and Scania to address urban transport problems and solutions. Together, these organizations switched to zero-emission fuels, dropped carbon emissions by 20 percent and markedly reduced noise pollution.

a photo quote from John Davies on the discussion of urban transport problems and solutions
John Davies, VP, and Senior Analyst, GreenBiz Group

Innovations, Technologies and Creative Policies in Urban Logistics

Certainly, partnerships among stakeholders in urban transport problems and solutions areas will be necessary. But at the same time, these collaborations must generate innovative ideas to address future urban logistics challenges.

The role of technology and the use of “big data” will offer advantages in this regard. Also, new urban policies that align with everyone’s interests more effectively must be considered. One company that values doing this is United Parcel Services—better known as UPS.

UPS has shown a track record in dealing with urban transport problems and solutions through innovation and collaboration. In 2012, UPS worked with the town of Hamburg to accommodate narrow streets and pedestrian-only areas. The ultimate solution involved a central hub for package deliveries where electric tricycles then delivered packages to their destinations. The collaboration also involved Workhorse Group, which supplied UPS with its vehicle fleet. Similar solutions are now being explored in Dublin, Munich, Pittsburgh and Fort Lauderdale as a result of its success.

a photo quote from Mark Wallace, SVP UPS on the discussion of urban transport problems and solutions
Mark Wallace, SVP, Global Engineering, and Sustainability, UPS

Future Strategies to Resolve Urban Logistics Complexities

Businesses that are willing to create partnerships and develop innovative concepts will be able to overcome future challenges in urban logistics. Companies like UPS are already pursuing these strategies in bold fashion. UPS has also collaborated with a U.K. consortium in utilizing smart grid technologies for urban transport. Notably, UPS is working with the University of Washington, Georgetown University, and municipal departments of transportation to develop innovative solutions. Indeed, businesses that embrace this type of strategy will be those that are willing and able to rise to the challenge of urban logistics demands.