January 6, 2023

Priscilla Anais on bottom-up innovation and e-commerce

Ben Corbett

Priscilla Anais on bottom-up innovation and e-commerce

New mobile apps to keep an eye on

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What new social media mobile apps are available in 2022?

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Use new social media apps as marketing funnels

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Priscilla Anais is Associate Vice President of Product at Indonesian marketplace giant, Tokopedia. Today we discussed bottom-up innovation, user behaviour and balancing business and product objectives across one of the most exciting tech unicorns in Southeast Asia.

Ben: Thanks for joining us Priscilla. To kick things off, can you tell us about your current role?

Priscilla: I’m currently the Associate Vice President of Product at Tokopedia. I work closely on the content side of our marketplace. That includes managing some of our browsing experience, our Feed and our live shopping and streaming experience, Tokopedia Play, which is really shaping the future of online shopping in Indonesia. I also work closely with several business teams that feed into these product experiences. For our live shopping product, this means partnering with content creators, sellers and brands, all of which are important to bring a great shopping experience to our users.

Ben: You mentioned live shopping and partnering with lots of different people. How do you get the balance right with all of these stakeholders and why is that important?

Priscilla: With a product like live shopping, the content itself is key to a great user experience. Like Netflix or Youtube, in Tokopedia Play, you cannot separate the content from the product.

Having high quality content supply around the clock is an important part of delivering that user experience. Yet, this is by no means a small feat. We need to bring together merchants, brands, and content creators to deliver great live shopping content, which requires a significant amount of business development activity and an education process for the players involved.

At the global level, live shopping is still in its nascent stages. Only China has nailed it so far, and that has come after 7-8 years of nurturing the behaviours required to make it work. On our side of the world, we’re just starting our journey in the last 1-2 years. To make live shopping a mainstream behaviour, our product, design, tech and business teams will need to keep working closely together and enable our content creators, merchants and buyers.

Ben: Building on that, how do you balance business priorities and product decisions? How does it impact innovation more generally?

Priscilla: We always start from our company mission and let that guide us. Our mission is to democratise commerce through technology. We have over 10 million merchants on our platform at the moment and we are constantly thinking about how we can empower every SMEs with our innovation.

From one year to the next it can mean something quite different to live up to our mission. For buyers, it could be about building a sense of trust when transacting online or making the experience more convenient. For sellers, it could be about providing demand analytics for our sellers, or providing Fintech solutions to allow them to manage working capital so that they can grow.

At the moment, there is a focus on helping our sellers to stand out in the market and differentiate their products via live shopping or product reviews. We are a user-centric company, so it is essential to make shopping more engaging and fun for buyers. We are also pushing our experience to become more hyperlocal, which is particularly important for buyers and sellers outside the big cities such as Jakarta.

Bottom-up innovation is important. People who are close to customers and outside of the product team often know a lot more about users and have better insights

Ben: How do you think about bottom-up innovation? How does it factor into Product decisions?

Priscilla: From my experience, bottom-up insights and innovation are essential. People close to customers and outside of the product team often know a lot more about users and can have better insights. We have processes that enable organisational listening and empower our teams to act on critical insights. If we don’t enable that, we are going to lose out on a lot of the innovation that is timely and relevant to the market.

By the same token, we have also learned to stay agile and not to over plan. We can have a strong hypothesis about how the market will behave, but in reality, you can’t predict everything and you need to be quick to respond to user feedback, market events, and catch trends.

Ben: You blog a lot about product management and cover lots of interesting areas within the discipline. What are you particularly passionate about within product management?

Priscilla: I blog in Indonesia because there is a lot of practical knowledge out there that can help product teams maximise their potential. I am particularly passionate about bringing more business mindset into product practice, and introducing product mindset into business practice. There is some understanding and appreciation of the product delivery side and process (e.g sprint planning) in the market, but I want to shed more light into what happens before that and the broader collaboration that is crucial and is often unappreciated.