EC Vietnam is a digital one-stop home construction platform for businesses and homeowners to procure construction materials and find reliable service providers.
The Moon Journey
The EC Vietnam team reached out to Moon to develop a click-through prototype targeted at home owners, small retailers and manufacturers. The team synthesized feedback on the prototype with real home owners, retailers and contractors in Vietnam. Based on this feedback, the team iterated on the prototype giving the team a clear direction on how to build the e-commerce platform based on customer data.
The challenge was to identify the potential customer base who would be interested in the idea of an online B2B and B2C platform supporting building materials.
This platform would be an opportunity to build trust among homeowners and provide small retailers the opportunity to connect with customers directly. In addition, manufacturers would have access to unique customer data improving the efficiency of their current supply chain.
Where EC Vietnam Is Today
EC Vietnam is using the synthesized customer data and revised prototype to inform a local partner on the development of the e-commerce platform.
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Iron & Steel Products Business Unit
Value Chain Solution Dept
Mitsui & Co., Ltd
Lung Tsai (Ryu) Liu
Mary Ann Gallo
How an Organizational Idea Sparked Personal Transformation
Sometimes people come into our lives for a reason. Whether they be friends or colleagues, we often experience shared challenges and discoveries together that lead us to a deeper sense of trust. We begin to show parts of ourselves that we didn’t think possible and these relationships push us out of our comfort zone. It’s these relationships that can inspire a personal transformation and leave a lasting mark.
Arata Hori first approached Moon with a request to work on his project, an e-commerce platform for consumers and businesses in Vietnam. After approval from the Moon Committee to proceed with designing a prototype, Arata was introduced to his team at Moon, Global Head of Marketing & Communications, Mary Ann Gallo, and Program Designer, Feng Liang, in early August.
“Mitsui Vietnam had already done quite a lot of market research by ourselves,” said Arata. “The Mitsui Vietnam team has a steel trading business in Vietnam, so we understand the market structure and the players. We asked ourselves, 'What are the pain points of our users?' We had made this hypothesis by ourselves before we worked with Moon.”
“To verify our hypothesis, we decided to connect with Moon. At the time, we really didn’t know much about Moon. The Mitsui steel team is proficient in business to business (B2B) steel trading, but when it comes to business to consumer (B2C) or home building, we didn’t have any experience. EC Vietnam was beginning to explore B2C because individual homeowners in Vietnam were choosing to be more involved in the steel selection process. I had hoped that Moon would help us generate new ideas for potential service models in this space.”
Program Designer Feng Liang was Arata’s partner at Moon who would work side by side with him on the entire project. He reflected on the personal transformations they both experienced from working together.
“Arata Hori was so ready to learn new things, get his hands dirty,” Feng said. “I’ve always admired people who really want to do things immediately. He had faith in his project. He has a very steady mindset and he wanted to convince people to buy into his idea. He found a way to convince his boss to move forward with his hypothesis together with Moon.”
“We started the project officially in October,” Feng continued. “At that time I wasn’t in the best mood with how things were going in my personal life alongside the pandemic. I wanted to do something totally different because I wanted to learn, and I couldn’t just stay in a bad mood. I had to move on and learn something new. I had decided before any designers joined the project that I would try to build a basic prototype of Arata’s hypothesis using my own imagination.”
“During the process of helping Arata, I learned a lot from him and that helped me personally too. I thought to myself, this is really something. No matter what I think or what I see, the project’s greatest success is not the prototype, but the transformation of Arata. He would not only eagerly take what we tried to show him, he would intentionally apply it. We talked about the value proposition, looking at what problems we were trying to solve, not leading with a solution prematurely. These were all considerations he took into account.”
“What I learned from working together with Arata is to not think so much, just do it and then you may find out new answers. We can oftentimes think too much about something without any action and that ends up leading us nowhere. If I were to advise my colleagues at Mitsui, I would say, 'Don’t think that Moon is just a bunch of people who are going to do things for you. We want to do things with you.' That proof is very powerful. When we work together, you learn and maybe you feel something different and you may change at some point.”
Feng continued, “I never thought this was a typical “successful” project that we could just do again. It was successful in a different way. I’m so happy he changed and he enjoyed the change. Some people don’t like change and often stay in one mindset. I’m so happy Arata enjoyed this transformation and being flexible, that made me happy and reflective too.
Through this project, I realized that I was helping myself by helping him. He was an unforeseen light.”
Both Arata and Feng grew personally and professionally during their work on the EC Vietnam project. With customer data in-hand and his newly developed skills, Arata is well positioned to bring the EC Vietnam project to market.