The Internet economy demands that companies stay nimble, and branch out beyond their initial markets and even core competencies.
They need to pivot as needed, to meet new demands and challenges.
To do so, they need to consolidate workflows and operations, especially the small and midsized businesses (SMBs) which have to do more with relatively fewer resources than their larger peers.
But as they juggle back-office functions, friction mounts. Business owners and operators navigate across a slew of accounting, invoicing, inventory management and of course, payments-related activities to get it all done, day after day.
In an interview with Karen Webster, Bowen Pan, head of product at Stripe, said that the great digital transformation needs a one-stop shop to help companies help themselves run more efficiently.
“They’re so busy trying to grow, they really don’t have time to reinvent those processes,” he told Webster. Bringing a range of far-flung software tools to one place helps cut down on errors and reduce fragmentation.
DIY or the Community Approach
To that end, the company launched Stripe Apps and Stripe App Marketplace — the former, in a sense, a do-it-yourself approach that lets companies privately customize Stripe’s offerings; the latter a platform for companies to share, discover and pick apps a la carte for use by the community of more than 1 million firms.
Stripe Apps, he said, allows firms to extend Stripe and with the company’s partners, “go beyond payments and finance to help them run more parts of their businesses” as they access any application programming interfaces (APIs) that are made public.
Pan said that enterprise clients can build custom experiences tied to their software-as-a-service tools directly into the Stripe Dashboard, where they’d already been running a number of core workflows. By orchestrating the right APIs, there is automated sharing of contextual information across apps and records are kept continuously in sync.
See also: Stripe Debuts Data Pipeline Tool for Data Synchronization
“We’ve just been hearing from users a lot over the past few years,” he said, “that they’d wanted to address the pain of straddling across multiple software application tools.”
Pan said that his pre-Stripe experience as group project lead at Facebook taught him that a user-first experience is critical — and can gauge how customers are jumping through hoops to get things done. That can spark an aha moment, of sorts, on the part of providers like Stripe:
“’Our users’ lives can be made so much easier if we just made [apps] into a product,” he said.
The Marketplace, now in beta testing (and is free), is launching with more than 50 apps from leading providers like DocuSign, Dropbox, Intercom, Mailchimp, Ramp and Xero. The apps span everything from accounting, analytics, CRM, eSignature to marketing,
For Stripe itself, he said that the Apps and Apps Marketplace launches represent a strategic move beyond payments processing, where payments become a “plug” into a wider range of services.
“A lot of these firms’ revenues get processed through Stripe,” he said, “but there are many payment adjacent areas” that need to be addressed through partnerships, platforms and collaboration.
Moving beyond the beta phase, he said, Stripe and its partners will look to constantly refine and redefine the Apps and Apps Marketplace, eyeing where developers are congregating and embracing different functions.
“There will be a lot tweaking and a lot of learning,” he told Webster, “and we don’t expect the ecosystems and the platform to look the same a few years from now — we’ll see the developers and our partners really unleash their creativity and see what they can build.”
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