End of Silos: Leaf Ties SMB Processing, Marketing and Back Office Ops

We’ve always had “marketing” as a unique silo for SMBs. Now, a number of companies are looking at a bigger, more integrated picture that includes marketing and operations. It is Quikbook meet Amex meet Groupon.

The idea is once you have a SMB account, work to extend that relationship. They don’t want to work with a bunch of different vendors.

One example: ReachLocal, which has developed a comprehensive solutions with ReachCommerce, tying accounting with scheduling and other features. Example 2: Boston-based Leaf, which has expanded beyond its roots in payment processing.

Leaf CEO Aron Schwarzkopf says that tying marketing and operations together is the natural cause-and-effect of the rise of big data and also, unexpectedly, the availability of all-in-one tablets. Instead of just being a commodity payment processor, “we are building an experience,” he says. Hardware and software lets us do that. It allows merchants to do all their stuff there. Up to now, data has been siloed. Now it is open to everyone.”

Leaf is dead serious about building that “experience,” extending to the development of its own customized tablets, and its own App store. “All the IP is in one place,” says Schwarzkopf. “We’re made for commerce.” Customization, he adds, is especially important because every merchant does different things. The challenge is the open platform.

By providing its own tablets and apps, Leaf can eliminate distribution issues, and also make money, adds Schwarzkopf. Leaf can make money on the tablets by selling them for $250 each, and it gets $50 a month for monthly merchant fees are $50 a month. The company does work with third channel sales forces, however, including top gift card processors. It currently has “hundreds” of customers, and is growing quickly.

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