The burgeoning voucher/coupon business sector is offering struggling retailers a way to broaden their marketing efforts in a slower UAE economy.
The mobile app VoucherSkout, introduced this month, reduces the cost of products and services across six sectors by 50 per cent: food and drink, brunch, beauty and wellness, sports and leisure, family and children, and learning. Therefore if you choose to eat at a featured restaurant then 50 per cent of the whole bill will be discounted, and often that will also include beverages. The rationale for businesses is that with half of the whole bill discounted, companies are able to up-sell and drive customers to buy more products and services or more expensive food and drink.
The retail environment is becoming increasingly challenging with Majid Al Futtaim (Maf), the region’s biggest mall owner and operator, predicting the slowdown in sales will continue into next year. In a slowing economy, businesses are looking for ways to acquire new customers and retain old ones.
“The voucher business has become a huge opportunity as The Entertainer and Groupon have shown,” said David Tobias, the founder of VoucherSkout. He said the new app is the No 1 downloaded app both on IoS and Android in the UAE and in two weeks has signed up nearly 7,000 users and 150 merchants. Mr Tobias said the company’s pricing strategy was a plus point, being cheaper than many other voucher services.
“We charge Dh15 for each voucher which you buy through the app which is free, and it’s free for all our merchants to list with us.
“The slowing economy is a boon to the voucher business as customers look for deals and merchants look to fill their restaurants, gyms and beauty parlours.”
Maf itself bought into the mobile commerce loyalty programme Beam Wallet in December 2014.
Its app allows customers to pay using Beam Wallet on a phone and that data is used to tailor buying solutions to customers. It allows the retailer to bring in new customers through offers, deals and loyalty programmes.
Beam Wallet has nearly trebled its number of outlets, with nearly 3,000 merchants currently, since Maf came on board and expects to have 5,000 outlets by the end of 2017.
“It’s not about discounts or vouchers, it’s about acquiring and retaining customers,” said Nadim Khoury, the co-founder of Beam Wallet.
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