The Source Superstore is now open!
To celebrate this opening, we’ve produced this seven-part white paper which explores why, and how outsourcing is the most powerful and transformative business tool in existence today. This white paper discusses the arguments for the world’s first outsourcing Superstore, and how Source Superstore will help proliferate the rise, and benefits, of outsourcing to all.
Source Superstore [1/7]: Outsourcing’s past and future
In the beginning, outsourcing was only an option for giant international corporations. It is only recently, that it has been viable and available to smaller business, and now even individuals and ‘solopreneurs’… however, most people are still unaware of this incredible opportunity.
How outsourcing started
Outsourcing, as we know it began about 25 years ago. The Philippines and India were the first countries to provide outsourcing services. The dealt companies provided outsourcing in direct partnership with a client company – with the client company pretty much paying for, and setting up the whole facility – with the assistance of the local company.
Back then, for a company to outsource meant a huge upfront investment. The company was required to set up legal entities, construct offices, and build servers, networking and infrastructure, and provide all hardware and training. The costs were so great, and the hurdles so complex, that it would not have made sense to outsource any less than 1000 people at a time. Typically, the big businesses that initially outsourced, would relocate 10,000+ jobs at a time.
Technicals of outsourcing
Originally, outsourcing was telephony based, and was enabled as the price of international communications dropped. As you can imagine, when the functions were limited to basic telephony, the possible outscoring roles were significantly more limited.
Then the internet happened.
Initially internet functionality was limited and clunky, but it meant that a broader range of data entry type jobs could be done. This removed people from direct services (customer service), to more back end operations.
The trajectory, capacity and competences of outsourcing then rose alongside the evolution of the internet. In the beginning the internet was very basic, and had very low adoption rates. As you know now, the internet is ubiquitous, and touches every part of a business. Alongside the internet, came incredible computing power. Now, almost everything is cloud based, and services can be rented as capacity requires. Much of software, that enables businesses today, is in many cases free, or close to it.
As the world moved onto computers to ‘do their business’, it meant that most of any jobs that are done from in front of a computer, could also be outsourced.
There is a saying that basically anything that is done in front of a computer screen – can be outsourced. And now, today, virtually everything in 80% of businesses is carried out from in front of a computer monitor. That has huge implications for outsourcing, and employment generally.
Sales cycle complexity
Back in the old days of outsourcing, things were very complicated. As mentored above, it was a major strategic and operational feat to set up an offshore outsourced operation. As a result of this complexity, it made outsourcing sales processes very long and complex. If you were moving 10,000 roles to a new foreign country, you could guarantee that there would be a super complex tender, and due diligence process. The stakes were incredibly high, and as such, it was the epitome of big businesses doing big business with big businesses.
The complexity of the sales, cycle, due diligence, setup and on-boarding further meant that small jobs weren’t viable for either the outsourcing service providers, nor the clients. Everything was so rigid and structured, which meant that client acquisition and onboarding costs were astronomical.
This meant that things moved slow, and were clunky. It meant that BPOs would only consider jobs with maybe 100-500 seats minimum, and would require a 2-5 year minimum commitment.
Clearly, this kind of scale and commitment meant that the outsourcing sector was completely out of reach of the SME market. They were basically completely excluded, until recently…
Slowing of growth
There has been an incredible growth in outsourcing over the last 20 years. Once the world’s big-business realised the incredible opportunities in outsourcing, they all flooded over to The Philippines and India. Fast forward to today, and you would be hard pressed to find one big organisation that doesn’t outsource some of their staffing.
Outsourcing has become so big for the Philippines, that it is now the single biggest industry in the country, and contributes over 10% to the GDP.
Then, more recently the growth started slowing down. People become fearful that the outsourcing boom was over, and the industry leaders started referring to it as a ‘sunset industry’…. Growth has indeed slowed, but the future growth of outsourcing has far from stopped.
In fact, outsourcing has only just begun…
Democratisation of outsourcing
In the last 10-15 years, a smaller breed of outsourcing suppliers started appearing. As with any industry the outsourcing service provision became more fractured and diverse. New entrants created a broader range of products that served and suited a broader range of clients and client needs.
This change was partly facilitated but the exponential cheapening of infrastructure provision. As has happened with technology generally, it became many many times cheaper to provide the hardware, servers, internet connectivity and infrastructure that enabled outsourcing to become more cost effective and accessible.
This meant that outsourcing could not only be supplied for cheaper, but it could be increasingly flexible on its terms. As with many things in business, outsourcing supplies changed from a massive commitment and super high investment and upfront costs, to a more simplified, cheaper service based on a monthly cost, with relatively unrestricted contract term lengths.
This meant that outsourcing well and truly become accessible to the smaller businesses of the world.
This has only happened in the last 10 years though, and it remains one of the business world’s best kept secrets…
Engaging with outsourcing
The ways that people engage with outsourcing have-not kept up with the general modernisation of the industry. The industry has gone through incredible transformation over the last 10 years, with the sector now able to provide almost any business service to any business sector. Professionalism, and skill development has increased beyond comparison, infrastructure costs are a fraction of what they were, and the sector is more flexible than ever with its terms…
However, the industry has not modernised its sales process, and the world is still blissfully unaware of the outsourcing opportunity. Outsourcing is modern sector, but its sales and marketing is stuck back in the dark ages.
The industry has responded well in catering for the SME market, where previously they didn’t, but their sales and marketing approaches have not. Their sales and marketing approaches are still using big-business, enters level approaches – and that isn’t relevant for small businesses of today’s fast-moving world.
Until now, there has been no centralised marketplace for outsourcing. And the world desperately needs one…
SMEs have a mentality and a purchasing process not too dissimilar to a consumer. They make far quicker directions and big business, and often they are made by just one, or two people. Decisions are quick, and the decision making processes are limited. Business owners are busy and so they don’t want to spend countless hours (and big dollars) on research, feasibility studies, tender processes and complex contractual agreements.
They want a simple outsourcing marketplace, where they can educate themselves, and then browse compare, and shop – all simply, safely and quickly… use as they visit online marketplaces for flights, hotels, and clothing…
The future of outsourcing is in SMEs….
The outsourcing industry will grow 10-100 fold over the next few years…
There are 35 millions SMEs in the West, employing 100m people, with $12tn combined revenues. And very few of these companies are outsourcing – 0.5% of that….
The world is moving increasingly online. More and more tasks, are being done from in front of a computer. The internet and software interfaces are getting increasingly powerful, which makes outsourcing cheaper and more accessible to all. The future of outsourcing is in the SME market – eventually, ALL SMEs will outsource…
The market needs to keep up with this trend. Not only does the product need to evolve, but the way that the product is sold, consumed and delivered needs to keep up.
Price war, and commoditization
Over time, we are seeing the outsourcing sector mature and consolidate. There are new startups in the outsourcing space all the time, but product innovation has slowed and consolidated, and pricing is becoming far more competitive. As the sector matures we will see increasing price and service homogenisation, decreasing margins, and a general commoditization of services. The industry is already witnessing this. This is most certainly a good thing for the consumer, but it means that the suppliers have to run and incredibly efficient product, and provide a great service – otherwise they will not survive the increasingly competitive landscape…
It is good to see the common signs of industry maturation within outsourcing, however, it is still a long way from maturity and widespread adoption – and this is hurting the industry and hindering its widespread adoption amongst Western businesses.
Despite now a relatively mature industry, there is still only a tiny fraction of business that actually outsource. It stands to reason that eventually everyone (ie every company) will outsource. We see that already almost all of the big business is outsourcing, but only a tiny fraction of the SME sector is doing it. There are estimates that only 0.5% to 1% of business are outscoring at this moment…. That leaves and incredible growth opportunity and trajectory for the industry.
Standardised services for easier engagement
The future of outsourcing is in the SME space. And SMEs consume services in a similar fashion to consumers… For people to get interested and engage in outsourcing, there have to be easier ‘on-ramps’ into outsourcing.
People have to be able to start outsourcing without it being such a big financial and emotional investment. People are now used to accessing many incredible services and softwares for free – or very close to it. People generally prefer and expect having little or no tie ins…. And outsourcing should be no different.
Of course outsourcing is different, very different, as you are acquiring ongoing employment services, but if there are too many hurdles, surrounded by too much uncertainty and unknowns, then the business simply won’t make their first step into outsourcing, and the industry will regress…
The Source Superstore offers a range of off-the-shelf products, which get them started, easily, quickly and safely, on their outsourcing journey. The Source Superstore offers small simple packages, at easy price points, so the initial commitment is low. These functions make it easier for people to take that first step, and give outsourcing a try.
The Superstore is also standardising outsourcing products and services for the consumer. When products are more easily reviewed and compared, people can buy with more confidence. Currently there is no standard pricing protocols for outsourcing. Pricing is generally opaque and complicated. Pricing is often not written on websites – it is only revealed on further inquiry. This is typical of complex industries, but as we have discussed, it no longer suits the SME market. It simply perpetuates the long sales cycle, and increases the complex on-boarding… This current situation really benefits the supplier, to the detriment of the consumer…
The Source Superstore is leading the charge in the modernisation of the outsourcing sector. Services need to be clear, and simple. Prices need to be clear and simple. Pricing protocols need to be standardised and deliverables need to be easily quantified, comparable, and reliable. And the Superstore is doing exactly that.
Source Superstore [2/7]: Growth of outsourcing is unstoppable
The growth of outsourcing (staff) is frenetic. And unstoppable. The world is always searching for more efficiency, and outsourcing is a big part of that. It is a progressive evolution, and we know well that nothing ever stays the same.
The frenetic growth of outsourcing
Outsource Accelerator recently published a white paper exploring the extent of the potential outsourcing market. We explored how the the future of outsourcing will be happening in the SME/SMB space, and provided some very interesting numbers…
There are over 35 million SME/SMBs across the high-cost English-speaking countries (Unites States of America, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore). These SMEs collectively employ over 100m people and generate $12bn in revenues….
This represents a huge market, and a huge opportunity. Currently, less than 0.5% of these SMEs outsource.
We argue that eventually – within 20-30 years – 100% of companies will outsourcing. Yes, 100%!
The reason for this bold hypothesis is that eventually, the concept of “outsourcing” as we know it now, will simply become, and become inseparable to, standard “employment”…
Flexible offices, flexible employment
Eventually, it will all just be called ‘employment’…. Regardless of whether you are sitting in the same office, maybe working from home, working remotely, working from another country, or sitting within an outsourcing service provider’s office….
The future of offices, office space and how that connects to the ‘workplace’ is all radically changing – and quickly…. The new co-working company, We Work is taking the office-space world by storm. They represent the new frontier of flexible, remote, new age co-working space. The fact that they have received over $8b of investments from external funds, validates their hypothesis that traditional workplaces as we know them, will be tipped upside down…
Eventually, employment will become far more flexible…. It won’t matter necessarily where you are located, it won’t matter where you sit…. It will be more about whether you can get the job done, and for what price…. This might seem harsh, but it is a truer meritocracy….
You might also think that this remote working is a more of a pain for companies…. But really, people are overlooking to most significant benefit of this rise of remote work – it exponentially increases the size of the employment market.
If a traditional employer is sitting in a town of 100,000 people, then they really only have a potential workforce of maybe 50,000 to choose from. This 50,000 might seem like a big number, but it pales in comparison to the worldwide job market. There are seven billion people on this planet. About 2 billion of them are actively online now, and in the next 10-20 years, were going to have another 2-4 billion people online.
Outsourcing and remote work, enables access to this world wide job market. Remote resources allow the ‘progressive’ employer to access a potential candidate pool of 2 billion people now, with another 2-4 billion people coming soon…. Of course quality, reliability, and security are all critical issues, but this is true for any candidate, and of course these will continue to be determining factors when choosing an employee. This won’t change, irrespective of where the potential employee is sitting. But the cost and quantity of skilled labour force, will change. Access to this almost infinite pool of people will generate more opportunities at a keener price.
People increasingly expect easy engagement, easy terms, and limited complexity. Outsourcing offers an incredible opportunity for businesses, but it has generally been a complex thing to get into. This is why we have launched the outsourcing superstore – we are making outsourcing easy…
One of the biggest catalysts for the outsourcing, online, and remote ‘movement’ is the technology enablement.
Outsourcing is not really possible without cheap and effectively communications. Prior to the internet, international communications were generally expensive. At the start of the internet, it too was expensive – if you consider the full infrastructure requirements. But in the last 5-10 years the cost has become almost negligible. This factor alone enables incredible commercial opportunities. For outsourcing, it allows for workforces spanning the globe to communicate, work alongside each other, interact, and produce, like never before…
The last 5-10 years has brought technology which makes it increasingly easier for people to interact online. Things like Skype revolutionised communications – both from a cost perspective, but also a interaction perspective…. Never before could you have have live, video interaction with anyone anywhere in the world…. Suddenly Sype came along, and you could. Plus…. It’s completely free. Incredible.
The world has come along way since then though. New software products make interacting with people, planning workloads and tracking efficiency easier than ever. There are endless softwares on the market that makes remote work more trackable, transparent and efficient than ever…. These softwares are all supported in the cloud, offer one-click install, and mostly cost nothing, or very little.
Technology is quickly removing all geographical relevance of location-based work.
People are now so used to technology helping them with their research, search and purchasing requirements – yet there has been no easy interface for outsourcing research until now. Outsource Accelerator provides the world’s most comprehensive outsourcing platform, We connect business in the West with the world’s best outsourcing suppliers.
A big aspect currently inhibiting remote working is the sense of normalcy… At the moment, outsourcing and remote work is a little uncommon…. Thus it feels a little unusual…. Society is gradually building new norms around these new workplace paradigms. This will inevitably change with time though, as location-independent work options become more common, and eventually ubiquitous.
It wasn’t long ago that everyone thought it crazy that you would look at photos on a screen, and that you would read a novel from anything else other than a book…. Now, it is rare to ever look at hard copy photos, and more and more novels are being consumed on Kindles, iPads, mobile phones and in audio…
Remote working will not only become normalised, it will eventually be considered quaint, or retro, for everyone to go to ‘work’ to a central office, of a morning…
The network effect of world trade has long been known…. It is a well accepted fact that big cities have more productivity and higher skilled output then small towns, and small towns have higher productivity and skills than tiny villages….
In all of history there have been few major cities, which aren’t at the centre of some major trade route or port (New York, London, Cairo, Rome, etc)…. There have hardly been any major cities that have existed in isolation, and certainly none that have prospered directly as a result of that isolation…. Instead, the most prosperous cities, have been central world trade portals of their time….
Equally, countries that are open to trade, with limited trade barriers have always performed better. It is the closed countries (think Cuba, North Korea, Myanmar, China, USSR) that have underperformed…
Things that are networked have more efficiency, increased specialisation, and enhanced optimisation. Networks can take advantages of a greater skill set, and a larger pool of skills, and higher levels of specialisation…. A group of 10 people can’t afford to specialise…. Whereas a group of one billion people, would produce a cross section of almost every specialisation known to man…
Increased connectivity and networking allow for greater advancement, evolution, and process efficiency…
And this is why the internet, and outsourcing will flourish – because it is an extension of the networking principles…. Outsourcing and remote work is increasing the networking between civilisation…. And these principles are enabled by the advancement of communications and technological connectivity.
Outsourcing is a win win
Some fear the ethical concerns of outsourcing, and globalisation. For the reasons set out above and others, outsourcing is a win-win proposition.
Outsourcing isn’t about having money, it isn’t about cutting jobs. It is about finding the most efficient route to running an awesome, profitable business. Running a successful business allows for more profits, more specialisation, more improvement, and increased growth. A more profitable company benefits the employees within that business, and the community around that business. When a business is flourishing, expansion is likely, more taxes are paid, and the community, city, and country all benefit.
Equally, the outsourcing destination country benefits from outsourcing. Their workforce has access to great jobs, a good work environment, and an opportunity for them to upskill, and connect with workers and opportunities in the West…. This is a symbiotic relationship that epitomises the network effect, and one where everyone benefits…
AI and outsourcing, the future of employment
A lot has been written about the future of outsourcing and employment in regards to the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI)… If you haven’t already realised, ‘employment’ as we know it now is being challenged from every angle.
Opinion is fiercely divided over the extent of the impact of AI and automation on the world. Some people think that AI will take over the world, and render humans useless in as little as 20 years, whilst other people suggest little will change, and broadly functional AI is just science fiction…. Without doubt, process automation, AI, and algorithms will all have a big impact on productivity and employment over the coming decades…
There is a lot of concern for the outsourcing industry. People suggest that these could be the first jobs to be removed, and as such, the industry has a finite ‘shelf life’…. This is an incredibly short sighted and simplified perspective.
Outsourcing is no more under threat from AI, as any form of employment. Yes, it is likely that the low skilled jobs will be replaced by automation quicker than the higher skilled jobs – and outsourcing has a disproportionately high ratio of lower skilled jobs. However, the outsourcing sector is quickly up-skilling, with the sector now offering literally any b business function possible. Outsourcing is no longer just call centres. Outsourcing can supply skilled roles for almost any role one business. As mentioned above, there is less and less distinguishing ‘outsourcing’ from general ‘employment’.
Of course it is the responsibility of the employees, companies, community and countries to ensure that their workforce remains suitably skilled, relevant and valuable to the marketplace. There is pressure to upskill, and perform… But this has always been the case.
It will be along time before highly skilled human jobs are replaced carte blanche by computers…. And even if they are, it will be jobs across the globe, across all industry types. AI and automation is no more of a risk to outsourcing, than it is to employment generally.
Progress is inevitable, and it is likely that progress will being some pain, but an even greater amount of pleasure, and benefit.
Source Superstore [3/7]: You can’t afford not to outsource
Outsourcing is incredible for you bottom line. Businesses are dependent on their Human Resources, they can make or break a business. Yet, people are very expensive and staffing costs are typically a dominant part of any company P&L.
Outsourcing, not just about cost savings
Outsourcing can provide 70% savings on your staffing costs. That’s incredible. It is possibly one of the most potent business tools available to business today.
Yet, outsourcing is not just about cost saving, and in fact it is only a small part of the transformative benefits the outsourcing offers…
Outsourcing really gets exciting when you realise that outsourcing affords you greater access to more abundant, highly qualified resources, which enable you to add rocket fuel to your business.
By accessing cheaper, more abundant resources, it means that you can hire more easily. It means that you can hire more people. It means that you can do more market testing, launch more products, and enter new markets. It means that you can have more sales staff, more marketing experts, and create more content. Access to more staffing, means that you can attempt to grow with less risk and less exposure. Hiring via outsourcing means that employing your next employee is less of a lumpy financial undertaking, which reduces the burden on your P&L. Ultimately, outsourcing means that you are better able to out-compete, and out-strategise your competitors. The sky really is the limit, once you properly integrate outsourcing into your business.
The big businesses have known and acted on this for a long time, and now it is the turn of the smaller business. Outsourcing really is the most powerful business tool available today…
The difference between outsourcing and freelancing
There is outsource and freelancing. The two things should not be confused – they are very different. Freelancing has become really popular in the last decade. It was popularised by Tim Ferriss’ book, the 4 Hour Work Week, and the flexible work-lifestyle movement, amongst other things…
Freelancing has been helped along in popularity by the explosion of freelancing platforms such as Upwork, Freelancer, 99Designs, Fiverr, and dozens more. These websites allow you to post project-based jobs, for set prices and have people bid for the work.
However, there have been many disappointed customers of these freelancing portals. There is little or no quality control, and you have little control over your contractors. Some contractors are good of course, but you might need to kiss a lot of frogs before you find you prince.
In contrast, outscoring offers access to a highly professionalised Human Resource supply industry. Not only does outsourcing provide the qualified and vetted people to do the job, but they offered highly structured environments that provide significant quality control, training and oversight.
The difference between outsourcing and freelancing is stark…. it’s a little like getting a part-time university student to do some work for you during their vacation, compared to engaging a Wall Street professional services firm for services.
Project based work versus ongoing services
One of the biggest differences between outsourcing and freelancing, is that outsourcing typically requires a staffing commitment of at least one full-time role, on an ongoing basis. Typically freelancing is project-based. Typically for outsourcing, you have your team in one place – all under one roof, with infrastructure, management and oversight included.
Productised services – not to be confused with freelance projects
Since the Superstore sells ‘productised services’, it may be easy for our clients to confuse them more as ‘project work’, which is more common in the Upwork freelancer model. This certainly isn’t the case. The products offered in Source Superstore represent a contained (productised) version of an ongoing outsourcing service, provided by a leading outsourcing supplier. The intention of the product is to allow for an easy obligation-free assessment of the supplier, the deliverables and the suitability of the services to your business.
Below are some key differentiating factors of outsourcing to freelancing:
- Ongoing roles (not project jobs), typically requiring a minimum of one full-time ongoing position
- Supported and managed environments (HR, training etc)
- Accountability hierarchy and account management
- Established high-quality offices offering superior infrastructure, internet connectivity, security and hardware etc
- Allows for greater scalability of roles, teams and space, providing enhanced institutional growth prospects
- Producing far more reliable and professionalised results
Outsourcing is an essential efficiency
We have discussed that outsourcing is on the rise. We have seen the reasons why it is likely that eventually every business will be outsourcing. If you believe that communications, IT, technology, and trade progress, then it is a natural conclusion that outsourcing will accompany that development.
Outsourcing is so advantageous, that you simply can’t afford not to – at least – properly consider it for your business. You also need to consider that if you aren’t properly considering outsourcing, your competitors probably are. Consider that if you aren’t outsourcing, your competitors probably are, or will do…
Can you afford not to outsource?
Cheaper, more flexible and easier to engage
We will see that outsourcing is easier than ever to get started in. The benefits of outsourcing can be applied to almost any business, in any business sector. It can be easily integrated, and savings can immediately be seen.
And now with the Source Superstore, it’s easier than ever to start on your outsourcing journey.
The Source Superstore stocks the widest range of outsourcing services. Each service has a distinct deliverable, within a distinct timeframe, and a clear price. We work with only vetted and verified outsourcing ing suppliers – some of the best in the world.
The Source Superstore products are suitable for both the newcomers to outsourcing, and seasoned veterans. There are a whole range of outsourcing products, and even consulting and educational items which can add incredible value to anyone that is outsourcing, or about to start.
Source Superstore [4/7]: Marketplaces and aggregators
Outsourcing is probably the most powerful and transformative business tool in existence today. It can save you 70% on staffing costs, whitest driving innovation and growth. Not only that, outsourcing is a win-win for solution for all parties involved. It is a boost to the company, its employees, the community and country – plus it benefits the outsourcing supplier and its country as well.
Outsourcing for all
Outsourcing has been a common practice for the big corporations for two decades, but was, until now, largely unavailable to the small and medium sized businesses.
Things are now different. Outsourcing has been democratised over the last 5-10 years, and is now cheaper, more accessible, and more flexible than ever.
Yet, despite the obvious advantages, as of yet, only a tiny fraction of the SME sector that is taking advantage of this incredible resource.
One of the main reasons for this slow uptake is the general lack of awareness, uncertainty and unease over exactly ‘what outsourcing is, and how it is done’. This uncertainty is not helped by the fact that there is very very little independent information out there to help people on this journey. That has now changed…
The world’s first outsourcing marketplace
Now, this has all changed. Outsource Accelerator is the world’s most authoritative independent information hub and marketplace for outsourcing.
Why a marketplace
The world is now awash with marketplaces and aggregator platforms. And this is for good reason. Marketplaces make it easier for consumers to search, sort, compare, and purchase products and services.
There is now a marketplace for virtually every product, and every sector.
We all know the famous examples, such as eBay and Booking.com, and of course, most people now book their flights and holidays on one of the dozens of aggregator platforms covering those sectors. Marketplaces now cover everything from clothing, to hotels, to crowdfunding to psychiatry – literally anything can be found in online marketplaces.
Common examples, of marketplaces and aggregators are:
- Amazon – buying books
- Booking.com – hotels
- Skyscanner – flights
- Expedia – combined travel curation
- Money Supermarket – consumer finance
- Electronics sites
- And online food shopping
Types of marketplaces
Marketplaces can broadly be grouped into four types:
- simple, singular transactions
- complex or ongoing transactions
- consumer/retail focused
- B2B focused
Basic transactional marketplaces
Online purchasing has more traditionally veered towards simple and quick transactions. This is for good reason. It is much safer and easier to buy a $20 book online than it is a $2,000 ball gown. This is because the book is (i) a smaller transaction amount, (ii) a known product that isn’t likely to vary, and (ii) contains very few potential variables. Conversely a ball gown is complex, more expensive, and there could be a million things go wrong when you take delivery of the gown.
This is why traditionally, marketplaces have started and have been stronger in the simple transnational space. But of course, things evolve. As society gets more entrenched in ecommerce and internet-based consumerism, the online marketplaces extend their reach.
Complex transactional marketplaces
There are now many marketplaces that offer products of high complexity. Examples of more complex online transactions are:
- Personal finance, loans and mortgages
- Online custom-made wedding gowns
- Property portals and property investment portals
- Peer-to-peer and crowdfunding marketplaces
- And of course, Alibaba.
These examples show that it is indeed possible to provide effective marketplaces for complex purchases, and the success of these marketplaces show that they are well received by the public.
Consumer versus business
There are clearly more consumer-based online marketplaces than B2B marketplaces. This is most likely because the buying processes and cycles of businesses are longer, and more complex. Enterprise sales cycles are typically long and complex, they’re typically expensive, and typically require a lot of customisation. However, this is all changing.
Business marketplaces don’t generally have the broad appeal and adoption of consumer based marketplaces. However, business transactions are often more valuable, and more reliably repeatable. Alibaba, a Chinese (product) manufacturing platform, is likely the most successful B2B marketplace out there – and is one of the most successful companies on the planet. It’s simply connects Western businesses with Chinese manufacturers. The value of the Alibaba platform is that it brings a lot of clarity and simplicity to an otherwise very opaque industry. The company is now valued at over $500billion.
Equally, Linkedin is well known in the business community, and is offering more and more platform-based services from their platform.
There are also numerous crowdfunding, peer-to-peer marketplaces, and SaaS platforms which are also becoming big in the business community.
And of course, employment and job marketplaces have been dominant in the online space for some time now.
The benefit of a marketplace is that they aggregate a lot of different services under one roof. This means that a marketplace offers its customers increased range, transparency, standardisation of pricing, reliability, easier transactions, and a better environment from which to research, compare and educate themselves about the products…. It is for this extensive list of reasons that marketplaces tend to be the destination of choice when people are making buying decisions. Platforms, aggregators, and marketplaces – make otherwise opaque markets more easily navigable for clients.
The Source Superstore marketplace
Strangely, there is no aggregator marketplace for outsourcing. And outsourcing really needs a marketplace, more than most sectors…
Outsourcing is a complex industry. It is full of ambiguity and uncertainty. In 99% of cases, the consumer is in one country and the supplier is in another country. People have to have trust and engage with people of different cultures, different languages, and from different legal environments to start their outsourcing journey. Prices are generally very variable, and an outsourcing relationship is typically an ongoing relationship with no definable outcome. Combining all of these factors makes it a scary proposition. Outsourcing is also typically an expensive purchase, which just adds to the burden.
It is for these reasons that people find the concept of outsourcing a little daunting, and might hesitate to take that first step…
These might seem like small issues to some, but it is this initial friction is stopping millions of businesses from starting their outsourcing journey.
The outsourcing superstore
The Source Superstore is changing all this. With productised services the Superstore is making the initial phase of exploring and engaging with outsourcing easier. It is focused on making the stepping stones into outsourcing smaller and less daunting.
It does this through three simple functions:
(i) Clearly definable prices
The Superstore prices are set, so that the buying decision is made easier. A quantified explicit price means that people know the extent of their risk and exposure. People are more comfortable making a decision when there are very clearly defined parameters.
The Superstore prices range from just $199 to $5,999, which are significantly less than the typical prices discussed in outsourcing. This is because a standard outsourcing engagement typically involves 1-2 full time staff, on an ongoing basis which translates to at least a $20,000 – $50,000 proposition. This is way too much for an initial outsourcing exploration, and this is why the Superstore provides simple products at significantly smaller price points.
We also offer great deals, and discounts, plus some products offer a cash back opportunity. After all, everyone loves a good deal!
How much does outsourcing cost?
How much does outsourcing cost? This is typically an incredibly difficult question to answer. And this is why it is so difficult for many businesses to get into outsourcing. When things aren’t clear, decisions are either postponed, or put off. Now, with the Superstore, outsourcing prices are clear… We are doing our best to simply this answer too pricing, and eventually, we will be providing a price list for you that covers the industry. Help us on this mission.
(ii) Reliable verified suppliers
The Superstore products are supplied by the top outsourcing suppliers, from the top outsourcing designation – Philippines. The products and suppliers are fully vetted before they are listed in the Superstore.
We require that there are clearly defined deliverables, and a clear refund policy if expectations are not met.
The Source Superstore introduces trust, certainty and ease, into an otherwise ambiguous disaggregated marketplace.
(iii) Definable outcomes and product range
The Source Superstore repackages typically intangible services into a more definable productised service. The Superstore is making outsourcing deliverables more certain and with an increased focus on output instead of hours and roles.
Outsourcing is meant to be an ongoing scalable relationship, and the Superstore recognises this. The Superstore is not trying to change what outsourcing is. The Superstore does not want to sell project based work. But we believe that the easiest way to get people started in outsourcing is by offering a great range, of bite-size easily-transacted services. Once those services have been successfully delivered to the client, then an ongoing outsourcing relationship will naturally blossom from the initial engagement. It is far easier discussing ongoing services once people have worked together already – it is the best ‘job interview’ in the world…
Purchasing a productised device from the superstore, is an easy initial step, but then it would likely evolve into a more standard outsourcing relationship.
The outsourcing superstore covers the broadest range of outsourcing products on the market. It covers all outsourcing services, across all outsourcing models, and includes auxiliary outsourcing services (incorporation, advisory, training etc).
Standardising prices and services
Standardising prices, and services, makes it an easier, more reliable, and more transparent marketplace for customers to navigate. This will be great for customers, will increase adoptions, and will be better for the industry as a whole.
Source Superstore [5/7]: Productised outsourcing services
Typical outsourcing relationships are complex by nature. It is always more difficult to clearly define and ongoing service that is interwoven into your business Outsourcing is never ‘one thing’…. It is a mish-mash of almost any role, and it is really most easily definable by the company structuring which enables the functions, rather than the function… but this is really a distraction, and irrelevant to the intended productivity
Making outsourcing simple
That’s why offering a productised service for outsourcing, alleviates many of these concerns. It makes outsourcing simple. A productised service, is still an (outsourcing) service, but they are packaged slightly differently.
What are productised outsourcing services?
A productised service takes an ambiguous service offering, and transforms it into a more clearly contained, more concisely defined, and more accurately priced ‘service product’. One blogger defined a productised service as: “A distinct service, for a distinct price, with a distinct beginning and end period”.
I am aware that outsourcing, by its very nature is hard to define, contain and price. But it is this ambiguity which makes it harder to get people to start outsourcing, and this helps no one. Making a productised service of outsourcing, won’t solve complex sales cycle and operational integration issues – but it will make engagement easier, sales cycles shorter, and raise conversion rates.
Once the customer has dipped their toe in, and is having great results with their productised service, the BPO supplier, whilst ‘wowing’ their client, can start the conversation about more standard outsourcing services.
The productised services on offer in the Superstore will be contained to a set limited timeframe or outcome, and are typically intended to be a ‘starter’, or ‘taster’ package. The products should speak more about the ‘output’ (ie results or deliverables) instead of the input (i.e man-hours). The design of a good outsourcing productised service is that they are a finite ‘project’, yet they are ‘sticky’ so that it is almost natural for the engagement to roll into an ongoing contract, if delivery is successful.
Examples of repackaging outsourcing services
- Original: “Seat leasing priced at $750 per month, per desk, plus salary. A required 12 month contract with a three month notice period”
- New productised service: “Get a Virtual Assistant, plus A-Grade outsourcing facilities, for 3 months – only $XXX – BUY NOW”
- Original: “Hire two telesales roles ongoing for outbound calls in seat a lease BPO – email to inquire”
- New productised service: “Start a two month telesales campaign today. Fully scripted, with 40 calls per day (900/m) for $XXX – BUY NOW”
A good alternative
Productised outsourcing services aren’t perfect, but it means a more quantifiable, quicker, easier, and convenient way to ‘test the waters’ for the client, and an easier means of getting clients in the door for the BPOs. Surely this is a win-win for everyone involved.
It’s assumed and expected that the productised service would evolve into an ongoing role. The productised services within the Superstore, should certainly be designed with this in mind. Because the BPO has only this one shot to impress the client, the BPO should offer a productised service within categories that they have very high competency, familiarity, and operational volume in. -so there is a layer of economic protection to ensure that the BPO does the best by its new client.
More about productised services
Productised services are in vogue at the moment. You can search Google for many guides which can help you with the subject. Here are some good articles we have found about the topic:
Marketing and Growth Hacking
Guide to productised services guide with 50+ examples
Source Superstore [6/7]: World’s widest range of outsourcing products
The Source Superstore offers a curated range of outsourcing services. We carefully control the design, supply and delivery of these products to ensure reliably first-rate results for our customers.
The widest range of outsourcing services
We provide some product guidance notes below for the design and delivery of products which are listed in our Superstore.
Superstore key categories
The Superstore’s objective is to make shopping for outsourcing simpler than ever before. For this reason, we are particular about what, and how we list our products in the Superstore.
To make navigation and purchasing decisions easy, we are offering just six succinct product categories:
- Customer service
- Finance and accounting
- Lead generation and sales
- Digital marketing & content
- Virtual assistant / general admin
- BPO client consulting services
A outsourcing supplier (BPO) can offer multiple products that fall within the different price brackets and the different service segments. For example, a BPO that specialises in VAs could offer a standard generalist VA package alongside a different specialised ‘Customer service support’ package. For the BPO, the resource allocation is pretty much the same – it’s just that they are packaged and presented differently, for the purchasing interests of the customer.
However, as mentioned above, it is critical that BPOs only offer products where they have considerable expertise, can deliver what is promised 100% of the time, and can ‘wow’ the client in the process.
Four simple pricing categories
Again to keep things simple, we are offering just four price categories (in USD).
See below for more about pricing.
Each outsourcing product comes with clear product guidelines. As with any successful product the offer needs to be comprehensive, clear and simple, and attractive to the buyer. We leave the product design and description up to our BPO partners; as they ultimately own the product, and it is up to them to get creative about how they can best package their services to best appeal to our customers.
From a delivery point of view, the BPOs are conditioned to deliver exceptional results, based on their product deliverables (promises), within the stated time frame, and for the stated price.
From a marketing point of view, for products to sell, they need to look and feel good. They need to offer an unmistakable value for the Superstore customer. They need to grab people’s attention enough so that they buy it, and then ‘wow’ them once they are using the product.
Since the BPOs know their core competencies better than anyone else, it is sensible that they play to these strengths so that they shine when delivering the product.
This means that the products in the Superstore reflect the best available services, from the best available outsourcing suppliers. The products represent the services that each BPO has extensive experience, offer most ‘bang for buck’ for the customer, and can be confidently over-delivered each and every time.
All products in the Superstore have been thoroughly reviewed and approved by Outsource Accelerator prior to launching in the Superstore. Only verified and vetted outsourcing suppliers are able to list products in the Superstore.
The product description is the critical determinant of a purchasing decision. The deliverables, timeframe, costs and terms and any conditionals of the product are all laid out clearly on the ‘product label’.
We ensure that the descriptions aren’t too wordy or have too many conditionals – this increases uncertainty and unease. In short, we like to keep it simple.
We ideally want our customers to feel comfortable enough to ‘impulse buy’ these products. This is not because we want people to make ill decisions, but because we want to remove as many hurdles (monetary, emotional, intellectual) as possible between them starting (or enhancing) their outsourcing journey.
Thus, a simple product, offering great results at a great price gets people interested. Additionally, nothing helps people ‘make the move’ more than a good bargain. We aren’t suggesting that outsourcing customers should be ‘won’ on price (this likely won’t make a good client), but inevitably an attractive bargain will help coax them in the door – which again, is a win-win for everybody.
That’s why our products in the Source Superstore represent genuine great value.
A comparison can be drawn between Source Superstore and Groupon (a discount shopping aggregator site) – without the grubby bargain basement feel. There’s a reason why everyone was talking about Groupon, and it built a $25bn valuation! People love easy product engagement and great bargains.
Great value means that these deals cannot be beaten. It means that they are the lowest prices that can be found. We are happy for our BPO partners to also offer these ‘products’ on their own website, at the same price, but they can’t be cheaper.
The products typically reflect a minimum of 30% discount on normal prices.
Some of the products in the Superstore offer cashback incentives to the customers. A typical cash back scenario might offer a 30%, 60%, or 100% cashback if the customer rolls over into a 12 month ongoing outsourcing relationship.
This cashback offer further incentivises the customer to (i) make the initial purchase, and (ii) to roll over into a longer term ongoing customer of the BPOs services. Again, this is intended to be a win-win for both parties.
No further commissions
Outsource Accelerator does its best to promote the opportunities of outsourcing, to the world. Outsourcing is the single most transformative business tool available today. Small businesses are just realising that outsourcing is now accessible to them, and it is cheaper, more flexible and more accessible than ever.
The Source Superstore promotes the products as a means of an easy on ramp for people to start their outsourcing journey. The outsourcing suppliers, simply pay a commission to Outsource Accelerator on any sale that we make to the customer.
We intend this product to represent the beginning of an ongoing relationship between the customer and the BPO supplier. However, Outsource Accelerator receives no further commissions from that client for that ongoing relationship
The Superstore offers a market leading refund policy practice. The policies vary across the products, be we ensure that the products, and the suppliers of those products clearly state any refund and dispute protocols they have.
We do this so that the customers are able to shop with utmost confidence, ease and safety. This is all part of our mission to make outsourcing easier than ever
All product payments are collected by Outsource Accelerator, using Stripe, for within its secure payment gateway. All major cards are accepted. The funds are distributed to the BPO suppliers who will deliver the agreed products.
How we differ from Upwork and Freelancer
It’s important for the products to clearly distinguish the difference between formalised ‘outsourcing services’ and ‘freelancing services’.
Freelancing services have exploded in the last decade. There are now endless platforms such as Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr, Top Tal, 99Designs etc offering all kinds of freelance activities for very little money. It’s said that in the Philippines alone, there are as many as 1 million people working informally within this market on these online platforms.
Whilst the outsourcing industry is very clear on the differences of these services, our Superstore customers might not necessarily be so aware.
Since we are supplying ‘productised services’, it may be easy for customers to confuse the services more as ‘project work’, which is more common in the Upwork space. This is not ideal and not the intention, so we are eager to position the website and products specifically towards the ‘productization of outsourcing services’. As a result, we emphasise these differentiators within each product so as to reiterate and affirm this message.
In summary, we highlight the differentiating factors of outsourcing as:
- Ongoing roles (not project)
- Within supported managed environments (HR, training etc)
- Within established offices offering superior infrastructure
- Allowing for greater scalability of roles, teams and space, providing enhanced institutional growth prospects
- Producing far more reliable and professionalised results
These messages form a part of the general ‘educational promotion’ we share with our audience when promoting Philippines outsourcing, and we continue these messages across and into the Superstore products.
Source Superstore [7/7]: Biggest range, best prices
The Source Superstore is the world’s first outsourcing superstore. For entrepreneurs, business owners and senior management, it means that you are able to more easily, safely, and conveniently explore, start, and optimise your outsourcing journey.
Best prices, hottest deals, great bargains
The Superstore offers everything you would expect from a superstore. We offer great low prices, we offer the best bargains, and we offer exclusive products which can only be found in this store. The Source Superstore offers bespoke outsourcing products, which are supplied by the best outsourcing suppliers in the world.
All of our outsourcing products are delivered by third party outsourcing suppliers. These are all Philippines-based outsourcing suppliers, and all have been verified and vetted by Outsource Accelerator. You can review the company that is supplying this product in our company directory, and are free to reach out to them.
The superstore offers the best bargain prices available on the market. We ask our outsourcing suppliers to offer something super special in our store, so that it makes the buying decision easy.
Get cash back on offers
Some outsourcing services even offer a cash-back opportunity. Yes, you can earn some, or all of the purchase price back, if you decide to take ongoing services with the BPO. Get up to 100% cash back.
Most comprehensive range
We offer the most comprehensive range of outsourcing services in the market. We list over 600 BPOs, and choose just the best products from the leading outsourcing suppliers. Our BPO directory is the biggest, and most comprehensive outsourcing directory on the planet. We have arranged a highly curated range of products, which cover all of the primary outsourcing verticals:
- Customer services
- Digital marketing and content
- Finance and Accounting
- Virtual Assistant & admin
- Lead generation and sales
- Software development
- IT infrastructure, network and support
- Consultation and professional services
To make things simple, and easy to compare, we offer just four pricing categories: $199, 599, 1,299, and $5,999. Again, we want to keep the prices and deliverables super clear for all involved.
You can expect that these prices carry a superb discount from the standard price. Some products might also offer cash back opportunities.
For beginners and outsourcing veterans
The products are designed to be a fantastic way of testing outsourcing services. These products suit a new entrant to outsourcing, or a seasoned veteran. Because the products are arranged into specialised verticals, there is something for every price point, something for every business need, and something for every level of outsourcing expertise.
The curated range of products are there to help you, wherever you are on your outsourcing journey. There are products to get you started, to enhance your existing engagement, and a full range of auxiliary consultancy services. We cover everything related to outsourcing.
Conversion into ongoing outsourcing
The services are designed to be a great way to feel out outsourcing suppliers, and their quality of work. If the service delivery is a success, then it would be a natural progression to explore ongoing services with the supplier. There is no obligation, but the option and intention is there. Having an easy on-ramp into outsourcing is a win-win for the outsourcing suppliers, and prospective clients alike.
Making decisions easy
Productised outsourcing services makes making the decision to outsource, easy. Typically the sales cycle for outsourcing is long and complex. There are so many variables, the costs are typically high, and there are a lot of unknowns. The Source Superstore changes all this, by providing smaller, easier stepping stones into outsourcing. These smaller, compartmentalised services offer an easy way for companies to dip their toes in, get started, and start to form working relationship with BPOs which can turn into an ongoing role.
Easy, simple and safe
The Superstore makes it easier than ever, quicker than ever, and safer than ever to get started with outsourcing. Only verified and vetted outsourcing suppliers appear in the Superstore, and you’ll find the best pricing, clear deliverables, clear refund policies, and the widest range of outsourcing services in the world.
The Source Superstore: Summary
The Source Superstore offers, for the first time, a broad range of simplified, productised outsourcing services… People can browse, compare and purchase outsourcing services easier and safer than ever before. First the first time, outsourcing engagement is easier than ever – the Superstore makes a previously complex transaction such as outsourcing, simple and contained.
We are excited to welcome you into the Source Superstore!