Exploring the Complexities of B2B2C Product Management and Finding Balancing Between Business Partners & End-Consumers

Anna Albert is a product manager at Riverty, a leading consumer touchpoint products used by 12 million people yearly. Anna is also the organizer of the ProductTank Tallinn meetup that brings together 700 professionals from Estonian product community. Having over six years of experience in software development management, Anna started her career as a project manager and transformed into a product manager role, successfully practicing it in growing startups and large international enterprises.

We talked about how the ProductTank community in Estonia got started, how to navigate regulatory requirements, what methods can be used to gather insights into user behavior and preferences, the main difference between regular B2B/B2C and B2B2C product management, and what metrics Anna uses to evaluate the success of a B2B2C product.

You organize ProductTank Community meetups in Tallinn, Estonia. Could you please tell us more about the ProductTank community and its benefits for product professionals?

ProductTank was started in London in 2010 by the founder of the Mind the Product organization.

It started because there was no place for product people to gather, share ideas, and learn from each other. From that, ProductTank meetups spread all over the world. At one point, they were scaled across 200 cities.

When you open a ProductTank in your city, it’s called a Chapter. Certain guidelines dictated by MindProduct require you to follow a specific structure format and have at least four events per year to comply with their guidelines.

ProductTank is open to everyone interested in the world of product management and sharing their experience, including product managers, engineers, designers, business analysts, QAs, etc.

Meetups are structured so that we usually have two to three speakers at the event and networking session. Events are hosted by different companies in Tallinn and sometimes in Tartu. Networking and having an opportunity to talk face-to-face with other professionals in the field of product, as well as discuss work and challenges, is the main benefit of the event.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, ProductTank happened frequently in Tallinn, but then it was put on hold. Last October, together with the team, we revived the ProductTank in Tallinn, and so far, we’ve had four events.

How do you navigate regulatory requirements and compliance considerations in developing fintech products, and what steps do you take to ensure adherence to industry standards?

There’s a saying that if you succeed as a product manager in FinTech, you will succeed as a product manager in every other field. This is because FinTech is heavily regulated, and there are many nuances to keep in mind.

I will provide some context about Riverty so people will understand why I am discussing regulatory requirements. Riverty employs 5,000 people all over Europe, and I’m specifically responsible for the Buy Now Pay Later product, which had 21 million unique customers in 2023. I’m responsible for this product from the moment of consumer checkout until the moment that the customer hands it over to debt collection. In Riverty, we also process consumer debt collection cases and partner with other businesses. My area of responsibility ends after the user is transferred to debt collection.

From my perspective, when I started, my first step to understanding the regulatory landscape was to map it and have it documented, talking to different stakeholders to understand what I am dealing with to ensure the basics are there. Secondly, working at FinTech makes it important to work closely with the legal department. At Riverty, we have a legal representative who supports certain product lines, and we invite them to product demos and stakeholder meetings to ensure that whatever we do is compliant with regulations and receive feedback from them directly. I think that around 80% of anything I want to deliver is in the discovery stage, so I usually bounce these ideas with legal to ensure that by implementing innovative solutions, we are not stepping on some regulatory problems for which the regulators can fine us.

The regulatory space is becoming even more regulated right now with the Direct-to-Consumer directive and Code of Conduct introduced in some European markets. Previously, many things were possible that are not anymore. For example, before many things were possible, people forgot to pay and ended up in debt collection, but more countries are interested in protecting consumers by providing a safe space for all consumers who use ‘buy now, pay later’ products.

You’re also a big advocate of human-centric design in product management. What methods do you use to gather insights into user behavior and preferences, and how do you ensure these insights are incorporated into the product development process?

I’m an advocate of human-centricity, and Riverty is also positioning itself as one of the most human-centric FinTech companies. We’re not a B2C business; instead, we focus on B2B2C, so customers of our clients use our products. That’s why human-centricity is divided into client and consumer perspectives. I’m on the consumer side and focus on how to make sure the customer is in the middle of our products and how we ensure that their needs and values are covered.

Regarding the insights, I don’t have direct control over consumers and people who actually use our ‘Buy now, Pay Later’ product, and I only see transactional information—whether they pay in time or not, whether they end up in debt collection, etc. Here, it’s a bit challenging, but one of the first things I took into consideration is inbound customer support, as we’re also offering customer support service at Riverty. Inbound customer support insights are one of the main places to learn what problems consumers face when using the product. So, we have the data about it to start making assumptions or research on how to improve certain things and measure whether something has improved.

Secondly, we’re conducting research. It can be direct. We’re, for example, buying off claims, meaning we own that consumer relationship and can reach out to those consumers. With the help of a user research partner, we also conduct studies to understand the customer better. We’re doing user testing before launching any bigger initiatives, showing our prototypes, and asking questions to understand what is clear and what is not to ensure everything makes sense for the end consumer.

Last but not least, the key thing is company strategy. Usually, there are main KPIs that we want to achieve - for example, we want fewer consumers ending up in debt collection or fewer consumers who receive payment reminders. Out of those KPIs, I also have dashboards to look at within my product and see how different KPIs impact results, and sometimes, it’s really important to dig deeper to understand what caused those results.

So, in short, transactional data and behavior are the keys in FinTech to ensuring that the right insights are used in the product development process.

What’s the main difference between regular B2B or B2C product management and B2B2C product management?

From the product perspective, what is different is the customer whom we are targeting.

If we’re talking about B2B, it’s other business. The selling cycle in the B2B product landscape is very long, so it takes time to read the contract, onboard, etc. From the product manager's perspective, the pace of work is also different because you need to participate in the sales cycle to ensure that the product meets the requirements. In B2B, there are a lot of customization requests - if you have customers, such as Amazon and Facebook, all of them want something specific, and if your key business perspective and source of money are other companies, you need to accommodate your product to meet the needs of different customers.

Of course, some still want to provide a unified product offering, but I’ve seen that in B2B, a lot of different customization and meeting specific customer needs are normal.

In B2C, the company is focused on the customer/consumer who uses the product. Here, the purpose is to scale this product to a wider audience. So challenges are also different - you want to go out to market as fast as possible, you want to start acquiring users as fast as possible, you also have direct control over customers' preferences, and you can ask for feedback to conduct research. The landscape is much more vibrant and dynamic, but there are also different challenges based on your business model.

In B2B2C, we have both. You partner with another business and provide services to its end users. In the case of Riverty, we have a big e-commerce merchant partnering with us, so they could use our ‘Buy now, Pay Later’ payment solution in their services, but we still handle the whole journey of the consumers because they can return and we will handle returns, they can pay on time or not in time, we will send them reminders, they can have different features on how they can pay - they can pause the invoice and pay a little bit later and so. So, consumers still have a touchpoint with us, we’re not fully left out of the equation, as it usually happens in the B2B landscape.

A challenge in B2B2C is that you must serve both and sometimes find solutions and balance between those two. So, if your business partner wants something, you must ensure that requests do not contradict your values towards consumers to ensure their happiness. Usually, in B2B2C, you have to make trade-offs and balance between those two angles.

Depending on the structure of your product team, sometimes you can be responsible for both angles. In Riverty, we have a team of product managers who tackle merchant relationships with different clients, and another product manager's team tackles the consumer side of the business. All of that requires a lot of collaboration between different product managers to ensure that the bigger picture is human-centric and the overall user experience is good.

What metrics do you use to evaluate the success of a B2B2C product? How do these metrics differ from those used in traditional B2B or B2C product management?

For B2B2C, the metrics are split into two—business metrics and consumer metrics. It’s important to onboard clients as fast as possible for the business side. You have to scale your business and attract clients. Onboarding is usually a very complex process due to KYC, different contract validation agreements, etc. Many companies are also trying to automate this process to make it faster and more transparent. So, one of the key metrics is the time it takes to go live. There can be other metrics, like clients can partner with you and leave (retention rate), profit margins, etc.

From the consumer side, metrics may vary depending on the company's strategy and core focus, as some companies might be more white-labeled and they don’t really handle and take ownership of the whole consumer journey. But if they do, for example, in our case, then there are certain metrics that we care about - payment acceptance rate (how many consumers are accepted by the risk check before they’re allowed to use the Buy Now, Pay Later product), the ratio of users who paid on time or paying reminders. For example, in the Netherlands, the timeline between the moment the user orders something until they might end up in debt collection is 72 days, and during this time period, they receive five different reminders. So we do our best to ensure they don’t end up in debt collection, but some people still do. We’re tracking each of these steps/touchpoints. We also provide different payment options - so people can pay with a card, manual bank transfer, or direct debit. It’s interesting to see the perspectives towards the share on different payment methods because there are ones we’d prefer because their maintenance costs the company less money, etc.

We also send a lot of communication (email, physical letters, SMS) to the users because of all these reminders, and we’re curious about the deliverability of those messages. There might be different reasons—people’s inboxes are full, and the email didn’t reach them, or, for example, there was some update to the message provider we used, and something went wrong. So, along with this email-sending journey, we also track deliverability rates and how many people marked us as spam to ensure that as many consumers as possible receive our digital communication, as this is the most preferred method of communication, but we also send out physical communication.