2016年5月6日 星期五

從Netflix, Costco淺談經常性收入(Recurring Revenue)

網路上可以找到不少關於Costco(COST), Netflix(NFLX)這些公司的營運分析, 不過我看了幾篇, 都沒有寫到一個重點. 這些文章都寫到, Costco有收年費, Netflix的會員也是每個月須要付費, 但這樣的營運模式到底有甚麼優點, 並能成為這些公司的優勢之一, 卻沒有提到. 

一個公司的商業經營模式對公司能否產生競爭優勢來說, 是很重要的. 一些比較受歡迎的商業經營模式有(偷懶, 我就不翻成中文了):

Razor-razorblades
The initial product is often sold at a loss or given away for free in order to drive demand for complementary goods. The company makes its money on the replacement part needed. Example: Gillette 刮鬍刀

Subscription
The subscription model has been traditionally used for (print) magazines and newspapers. Users pay for access to a product or service whether they use the product or service during the payment term or not. Example: Netflix

Pay as you go
In the pay-as-you-go business model, users pay for only the services they consume. Example: Starbucks

Freemium
The freemium (free + premium) business model provides the basic features of a product or service free of charge, but charges the user for premium services such as advanced features or add-ons. Example: Dropbox

Wholesale
The traditional model in retail is called a wholesale model. Example: Costco

Agency
In this model the producer relies on an agent or retailer to sell the product, at a predetermined percentage commission. Sometimes the producer will also control the retail price. Example: 廣告公司

Bundling
The bundling business model sells products or services for which demand is negatively correlated at a discount. Example: Microsoft (Word + Excel bundle)

Business models evolve dynamically, and we can see many combinations and permutations. Sometimes business models are tweaked to respond to disruptions in the market, efforts that can conflict with fair trade practices and may even prompt government intervention.

(出自: "Strategic Management: Concepts" by Frank Rothaermel)

其中的subscription model, 就是可以讓公司有源源不絕收入的商業模式, 而對成長公司來說, 能有固定的收入, 是件很重要的事.  根據"Finding the Next Starbucks: How to Identify the Invest in the Hot Stocks of Tomorrow"一書作者Michael Moe的觀點, "recurring revenues are the holy grail (聖杯) of predictable, visible growth." 他用了Paychex舉例, Paychex有80%的營收是來自現有的顧客, 就是一個很好的business model. 他也提到. "recurring-revenue business almost always have big premiums to their multiples because of their visibility."

另外, 美國知名商業雜誌Inc. 的CEO也寫了一篇關於recurring revenue business model的文章, 文章中, 他提到, 並非所有recurring business model都是有價值的, 因此, 他舉出了五種最佳的recurring revenue business models(這五種最佳的model又分成五種等級):

第1層級: Repeat Customers are Good
At what we'll call Level One of the pyramid is a business model based on Repeat Customers, say something like a grocery store. Having folks around the neighborhood stop by every few days to pick up their staples like milk and eggs is a great thing. By providing solid customer service, you can hope to attract those same customers on a weekly basis for years. The rub is that there is really nothing stopping your customers from stopping by a new store that opens on other side of town. Other than the possible cost of fuel, there are no switching costs for that customer. So, while having repeat customers is far better than not having them, your revenue stream remains risky because you can't count on your customers sticking with you. Many firms in this mode have build affinity programs, like frequent flyer cards to create stronger brand preference and make their offers stickier. 此種recurring revenue model的例子: 超市. 

第2層級: A Network Effect is Better
That leads us to Level Two of the pyramid, which is called Repeat Revenue with a Network Effect. What this means is that the more someone uses the company's product or service, the more each individual customer gets out of the experience--something called the network effect--which creates a barrier to that customer leaving because no other network is as good. Consider the appeal of a company like eBay. Regardless of whether you are a buyer or a seller, the more people that participate in the company's online auctions, the more valuable it becomes for you to the point that you wouldn't even consider switching to a competing offering. Can you even name a viable competitor to eBay these days? 此種recurring revenue model的例子: eBay.  

第3層級: Sequenced Product Purchases are Great Revenue
The next level up is Level Three: the Sequential Revenue Model. The idea behind this approach is to create recurring income by encouraging your customers to consistently upgrade to new product and service offerings. Consider the example of a company like Constant Contact, which starts customers out on a basic plan that costs $10 month. As you begin to use the system more, you can then upgrade if you like, spending an additional $5 a month to get unlimited image storage or the ability to input a larger number of contacts. In other words, the more you use the system, and the more valuable it becomes to you, the more you're willing to pay. This model also works where companies may offer a free service as a way to attract new customers, something known as a "freemium" model. DropBox, for example, has both a free service and a premium service where customers can access advanced features. Even if the company can convert just a fraction of its customers over to the premium service, it can create an extremely valuable recurring revenue stream. 此種recurring revenue model的例子: Dropbox.

第4層級: Good Until Cancelled Revenue is Really Great
Level Four of the pyramid is called Good Until Cancelled Recurring Revenue, where you find examples like insurance agencies or your cable company. What makes this model powerful is when it's based on an "opt-out" model where the customer has to terminate your relationship with them. Think about when you sign up for your auto insurance policy: You agree to pay a certain amount of money every month until you cancel, which makes for a fine source of recurring revenue. You actually have to make an effort to stop using the insurance. Credit card or bank account billing, where the customer pays their bill automatically, is an extremely powerful way of keeping customers over the long haul.此種recurring revenue model的例子: 保險公司. 

第5層級(最高級): Contractual Recurring Revenue is the Best
Level Five, the highest level of the pyramid, is Recurring Revenue with a Contract. Think about the contract you signed when you got your new cell phone. Not only did you agree to pay a certain amount of money each month depending on the plan you selected, you also agreed to keep paying for something like two years. Sure, you can change your phone provider, but this time it will cost you, say, a $175 switching fee. That makes changing a little more painful for you as a customer, which, in turn, makes for a better business model. The phone company also runs promotions where it offers you a discounted new phone every year or so. Of course, there's a catch: You need to sign a new two-year contract to take advantage of the offer. Again, this is an extremely valuable model because you can predict with a higher level of certainty what your recurring revenues will be both in the short-term, as well as over the longer term. 此種recurring revenue model的例子: 電話公司(因為顧客被綁約, 每個月又要繳費).
(原文出處: http://www.inc.com/jim-schleckser/not-all-revenue-is-equal-the-5-best-kinds-of-recurring-revenue.html)


所以, Costco, Netflix如果從recurring revenue的business model角度上來看, 是相當成功的. 在我看來, 它們應該算是Inc. CEO提到的第四種層級的recurring revenue model.  雖然平均下來, 每個會員要繳的月費只有一點點, 但"涓涓細流匯大海", 這也讓公司的營收在某種程度上有其預測性(predictability.)

除了Costco, Netflix之外, 美國還有哪些上市公司也是用這種方式呢?  Amazon (Prime會員制度),  Salesforce.com (業務軟體公司), AT&T, Verizon (電信公司),  Paypal (行動支付商), Starbucks等, 都是我目前能夠想到的公司.  如果公司的產品使用週期短, 那再搭配上recurring revenue這business model, 是不是會更讚呢(比如說, 大家常去逛超市, 買民生必需品; 大家常去買咖啡, 因為習慣的問題).   

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