e27 managed to grab a short email interview with co-founder Robin Wang to hear his thoughts on the product and the group buying industry as they see it.
Who are the people behind iLoveDeals.SG and how did the idea for the service came about?
iLoveDeals.SG was founded by Robin Wang Suyun, Wong Cheng Yee and Joy Zhong Yue, in June 2011. We are enthusiastic and passionate for the Internet. We have several years experience in internet and especially in e-commerce.
Joy and I graduated from the National University of Singapore and Wong Cheng Yee came from Malaysia. I am in charge of technical, Joy is does online marketing and graphic design, and Cheng Yee handles sales and manage customer relationship.
Since we like online shopping but we are not the type who surfing around on internet without purpose. Usually, we have some needs in mind, for example, I want to have dinner with my friends during the weekends, however, at that time, all the deal sites are providing one or two deals per day.
Most of time, the deal is not to my desire. What I can only do is to search all these deal sites to find a suitable deal. And it is very troublesome and time-consuming. I realize a lot of people may have similar demands and saw this as an opportunity. We have experience on the Internet and we believe we can do something on that. Since we believe in the principal: Think Big, Start Small, Do it Fast, we started the deal aggregator website with very limited resources. At the beginning stage, all deals information were updated manually. We worked until 2am everyday by just copying and pasting deal informations from other deal site. We launched the site very quickly and tried to attract more users. Now, we think we are on the right track, since we have more than 400 new users everyday.
How does iLoveDeals.SG stands out from other services?
Our mission is Smarter, Simpler, Faster, Make Life Better.
We make it smarter by adopting personalized newsletter subscriptions. Users can select their favorite categories, a man won’t receive bikini line waxing in their newsletter if they didn’t choose that category. And we are developing Intelligent Personalized Deal Recommendation system which will rank the deals based on user behavior (previous click on which deal and other user behavior patterns.).
We make it simpler by putting all the deals on one single page and using instant search(faster than Google search). Each day, we have more than 400 deals, usually these huge data will slow down the webpage significantly, we have tried to balance the page loading speed and simplicity and bring better user experience.
Our website is most updated, we update deals information every five minutes so that our users won’t receive out-of-date information. And we will try to build a deal lovers community by introducing ‘social’ features and more.
We are working very hard on customer service, since a lot of users will ask questions before they click the ‘Buy’ button. We have received a lot of inquiries on ‘how to buy’ ,’ if this product can be used by males/females’ to ‘what’s the price for consumers under the ages of 12′. We treat our users as our most important wealth. That’s why we think users can get more useful information from us. This is on the aspect of end users.
Another aspect is our customers, deal sites. Based on our customer feedback, we have the highest conversion rate among all commercial advertising platform (Google, Facebook, etc). There are two very important indicators to measure the performance of a website, one is traffic volume, another one is conversion rate. In terms of traffic, definitely we cannot compete with Google or Facebook, but in terms of conversion rate, we have much higher conversion rate than others, since we only attract users who are really interested in group buying and have more consume power. Another interesting note is that 80 percent of our users are female.
We think if we can treat our end users and customers(deal sites) very well, we can be successful and outstanding in the market.
Tell us more about iLoveDeals.SG’s partnerships. What are the challenges when expanding abroad and increasing the partnership base?
We partner with almost all major deal sites in Singapore, including, deal.com.sg, streetdeal.sg, outlet, and bigdeal. Besides big players, we have helped several small deal site at their initial stage. With our help, these new deal sites have a better chance to survive and close the gap between new deal sites and established deal sites.
We want to copy this model to other countries, hence we expanded to Malaysia. For the Malaysian market, the most challenging thing is that most of the deal sites in Malaysia have never worked with deal aggregators before. In Malaysia, no big deal aggregator exists and small deal aggregators(build for hobbies by student) are featuring deal sites for free. These deal sites are not sustainable. We will need to change their mindsets and persuade them that we are useful and there is value in paying for our services. We think this part is most difficult for us. Growing traffic and user base is not so hard since we have lots of experience in Singapore. Even so, we have attracted few deal sites now. Hopefully, we can get more partners in future.
How does iLoveDeals.SG sees the group buying industry shaping up in the future and what are your plans to capitalize on current and new opportunities?
Many people predict that only two to three group buying sites can survive in each region, but we have different opinion. We foresee the group buying market will move towards these three directions:
- more niche deal sites
- more product deals
- more users choose deal aggregator as their information provider
For the first point, actually, this is already happening in Singapore and other countries. For example, in Singapore SGCarDeals is the dedicated deals site for car parts and services, Foopon is dedicated for food lovers, Gaddict is for cool stuffs, and Wego FastDeals is for travel deals etc. In other countries, there are also deal sites targeted at ladies with cosmetics or beauty service. We think more and more niche deal sites will make the group buying market more prosperous.
For the second point, it is happening too. Groupon has recently launched a ‘product’ category for some selected countries, and in Singapore, Deal.com.sg also has a lot of products deal added recently, they partner with OSIM, Courts to provide more discount on their products. Many blogshop have also found that deal site is another way to sell their product and begin to partner with deal site widely. I will not be surprised if one day people can buy kitchen knives on deal sites.
For the last point, about a year ago, when Groupon just started to sweep across the world, people only know of one or two big players in group buying market. However more deal sites has since emerged, and these deal sites also provide awesome deals for consumers. However, it is very troublesome to visit all these deal sites one by one, with consumers become smarter and know more about group buying, a deal aggregator is favorable for them.
Our current plan is to cover more countries in Southeast Asia. In the short term, Malaysia and Indonesia. Our mid-term plan would cover the Philippines, Thailand and Australia. And we are also developing mobile versions for the iOS and Android platform.