Banco Inter’s revolutionary headless marketplace app blends shopping and banking
While the name Banco Inter might not ring a bell (yet) for those outside Brazil, it surely sparks recognition in its homeland. The first completely digital and charge-free bank in Brazil offers access to services such as banking, credit, insurance and investments. But far from limiting themselves to a strictly financial characterization, Banco Inter have ventured into the world of retail with their headless marketplace app, powered by VTEX.
A one-stop solution
In 2014, Banco Inter started a profound restructuring of their twenty-year-old operations. Gone were the days when mortgages were their main focus; it was time to diversify, digitalise and innovate. Ever since then, Banco Inter have continuously built towards achieving their long-term vision: a one-stop solution incorporating financial and non-financial services alike that would revolutionise the banking market, put the customer front and center, and challenge other financial and ecommerce players to step up their game.
While not quite magical, Banco Inter’s solution is the next best thing: digital. It comes in the form of an app (or a superapp, if you wish), easy to download, access and navigate. On it, one of the actions anyone in Brazil can do is to sign up to a digital account free of charge – and 10M Brazilians have already done it. With a projected growth rate of 500.000 new members per month, Banco Inter is set to reach 15M users in 2021 and to take the nation by storm.
Most importantly in Banco Inter’s grand scheme of things, however, is the fact that, since 2019 and thanks to VTEX, account holders can go into the brand-new “Shopping” section, a marketplace within the app, and buy from a myriad of brands – currently, 113 – without ever leaving the app. To top it all off, buyers receive cashback on their transactions directly into their bank account, ready to be used in another order or even withdrawn as cash.
The headless marketplace app
Prior to partnering with VTEX, Banco Inter already had an internally-built app with most financial services available. A limited number of partner stores was also available for shopping, but the customer journey was not seamless, nor convenient, for it redirected users to the brands’ own ecommerce stores. Therefore, the tricky part of fulfilling Banco Inter’s bold ambitions was upgrading the existing architecture into a fully-integrated digital marketplace, offering a fluid experience on navigation and, most importantly, on the buying process.
That’s certainly easier said than done without the proper technological capabilities. Firstly, headless technology is needed to easily connect the marketplace to the app through APIs. Secondly, scalable marketplace capabilities are imperative to continuously onboard sellers without sacrificing stability. What’s more, Banco Inter wanted to create this headless marketplace app at groundbreaking speed.
It comes as no surprise then that VTEX, with its native marketplace and headless capabilities and record time-to-revenue, was Banco Inter’s technological jackpot. With VTEX’s API-first architecture, troublesome processes like importing the sellers’ product catalogs flowed like water. Moreover, Banco Inter had access to a major pool of sellers through VTEX’s clientbase, ready to be onboarded quickly should Banco Inter select them on their curated brand offering.
The cashback concept was also smoothly brought to life, especially as Banco Inter was PCI Compliant due to its status as an authorised bank, thus facilitating an easy capture of the customer’s payments directly on the app. Additionally, the headless marketplace app successfully incorporated all customer communication (e.g. order invoice, order tracking). That way, Banco Inter’s dedicated customer service team could assist their users in matters related to marketplace orders despite not being involved in the actual fulfilment.
Throughout the implementation, VTEX was always only a step away, bringing expertise and best practices to an operation fully managed by Banco Inter’s internal business-oriented development team, akin to an innovation lab. And, in about two months’ time since the start of the project, the highly anticipated headless marketplace app went live, just in time for Christmas shopping.
Let the revolution begin
Banco Inter’s headless marketplace app went on to deliver smashing success in 2020. Just in April, partly aided by the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent surge in online shopping, monthly sales revenue reached $5M USD, equivalent to a 240% increase compared to the entirety of last year’s fourth quarter.
Another huge breakthrough came last July, courtesy of Banco Inter’s very own Inter Day – imagine Alibaba’s Singles Day or Amazon’s Prime Day or even a miniature Black Friday! In a nutshell, users could shop on the headless marketplace app and snatch items at discounted prices from brands like Carrefour, Samsung, Unilever, ViaVarejo and Magazine Luiza. Sales skyrocketed: the 24-hour event had a GMV 12% higher than that of the entire month of June 2020, not to mention a 2.574% increase compared to a normal Tuesday. All in all, account holders saved around $400K USD in cashback.
“The experience at Inter Day reinforces our partnership with sellers, shows that VTEX is a first-rate technological partner that helps us deliver even more convenience to consumers.”Rodrigo Gouveia, CEO of Banco Inter’s Marketplace
While Banco Inter’s first initiative of this sort, Inter Day went by without a hitch, primarily due to VTEX’s agility and scalability. The headless marketplace app experienced no downtime, comfortably placing itself among the Top 5 largest VTEX clients that day in terms of sales volume. Incredibly, the whole planning process from a technological perspective took just 10 days, a testament to VTEX’s flexibility.
“We polished all the details of the event with less than a week to go. If we didn’t have a very flexible partner, it would be impossible to cope with the increase in traffic on the site and we would offer a very bad user experience. With VTEX, we were sure that there would be no infrastructure problem, because the platform is very stable, highly scalable and, at the same time, flexible enough to deal with customized actions for each seller in a very simple way.”Rodrigo Gouveia, CEO of Banco Inter’s Marketplace
The latest smashing success for Banco Inter is 2020’s Black Friday, cleverly renamed in-house as Orange Friday. With the event’s sales, the headless marketplace app saw transactions of over $62 million USD in revenue during the entire month of November, which was full of discounts and offers. Since its inception, the platform has hit $200 million USD in sales.
Given the current rise of marketplaces in a variety of retail sectors (e.g. shopping malls, B2B), the importance of a collaborative commerce approach in the future of retail, and Banco Inter’s plan to implement state-of-the-art features such as VTEX Intelligent Search, their headless marketplace app is bound to grow further and pose an immense challenge to traditional banks. A revolution has indeed begun.