Connect with us

Entrepreneurship

The Asian Couponing Market

Published

on

In the world of commerce, the humble coupon has always maintained its place in the value chain. After all, who doesn’t want to pay a few dollars less, get free shipping or take home that exclusive free gift?

With a history dating back to the Gilded Age of the late 1800’s, the coupon has carried people through the depression, and has offered some degree of respite during the communist era. For a brief period in the 60’s the coupon even became the poster child of family togetherness, where Sunday morning coupon-clipping was a more popular activity than baseball or war protests!

History of coupons snippet

It has learned to evolve with the times, and has been flexible enough to adapt to the consumers ever changing needs. The coupon is nimble, and has to a degree, transitioned from print to digital in a seamless fashion.

Coupons are here to stay.

In fact, a recent study by GfK tells us that 70% of consumers in America still look to traditional paper-based coupons for savings. It’s not an old person thing to do either, as 63% of these users come from the millennial age category.

That’s right. Hipsters use coupons too!

Couponing and the Asian psyche

A little closer to home, the physical coupon scene stands in stark contrast to the norm of the West. You can pick up any newspaper from around the Asia region, and be hard pressed to find more than one tiny cut-out segment.

Promotional flyers are handed out freely on the streets and in malls but are rarely redeemable, and we curse out loud whenever a sneaky merchant tries to give us some savings over SMS.

Although we Asians are hard coded to always be on the look out for the best deals, and negotiate on the price of anything from fresh chicken in the market to multi-million dollar property deals, the whole notion of swapping a piece of paper for a discount seems foreign to us.

Without getting too cerebral, its safe to say that the traditional Asian consumer needs to bargain. He needs to feel that the vendor is cutting into his profits in order to feel better about making the purchase. He sees sales as not being real discounts – if a vendor can give him 20% off without breaking a sweat, that vendor is still making a healthy profit.

We brush off our constant haggling as nothing more than an exercise in prudent spending. Paying list price just does not happen.

On the surface, it seems that we treat coupons as taboo, but do the numbers agree?

Do the numbers agree?

At iprice, we receive more than one million visits a month. Almost half of that traffic either goes straight to, or ends up on one of our many coupon pages. With thousands of coupons redeemed everyday, the numbers alone contradict what we think we know about coupons.

Beyond the confines of iprice, Google also paints a similar picture.

We analyzed the search volume of the top 100 brands in our Malaysian store, and found that at over 80,000 searches were made last month just looking for coupons or discounts codes for these brands.

Across the seven countries that iprice operates in (MalaysiaSingaporePhilippinesIndonesiaHong KongVietnam, and Thailand), the total search volume shot up to a massive 740,000.

While we can’t peg an accurate number on the exact size of the digital coupon market in the region, the numbers certainly do speak for themselves. Put that against aCommerce’s estimated 2015 ASEAN e-commerce market valuation of US$7 billion, and the picture gets bigger. People want deals. People are searching for them. And people are certainly finding them online.

What fuels the need?

A surefire indicator that digital couponing is alive and well in Asia can be found in the way that our e-commerce habits have evolved. The proliferation of e-commerce into our everyday lives has pushed the pivotal moment further and further down the conversion funnel.

Conversion Funnel (iprice)

No longer are we caught staring wide eyed at a screen due to the amount of options that we have at hand – online malls like Lazada, Zalora and TaoBao have made access to over a million SKUs a regular daily occurrence. iprice currently lists over 8 million SKUs in our library.

Instead, we add item after item into our shopping carts, hover over the buy button and go back to our daily lives without checking out.

Digital advertising technology like programmatic banners constantly remind us about our overflowing carts while we’re scrolling through social media feeds, and weekly newsletters send us back to the online stores with the promise of bigger and better deals.

At the end of the month or when we buckle to temptation – whichever comes first – we click on the cart icon at the top right corner of our screens, look through the contents of our cart one last time and hit the next button.

Suddenly, a slew of random thoughts course through our heads – Do I really need this? Will he / she get upset that I’m shopping online again? Is this really the best deal that I can find?

Just then, we notice a blank field right above the pay now button.

Coupon code

Instinctively, we open a new tab in our browsers and key in the magical words –  “coupon code”. With our fingers crossed, we click on the first link that appears.

Get 30% off your cart with this code!

Jackpot! Switching back to our carts, we key in the code, hit pay and watch the magic happen. Suddenly we’re paying 30% less that we would have 30-seconds ago and all it took was a few extra clicks.

Conversion Funnel - Coupons (iprice)

The pivotal moment of online shopping has shifted along steadily with the evolution of e-commerce. It no longer sits at awareness, interest or even consideration. In today’s world, it sits firmly between intent and conversion, which is exactly where digital couponing just happens to live.

Are coupons worth the trouble?

On the iprice coupon page, you’ll find deals that range from nice to have things like free delivery, to seasonal offers of up to 50% discount from your cart total. As cliché as it sounds, there really is a coupon available for almost everything you can buy online, and our mission has always been to keep them organized and accessible to our users.

Coupon savings up to 25% on average

On average, an iprice user stands to save up to 25% just by using one of our coupon codes upon check out. Among the categories, the fashion category is the biggest savings contributor and offers an average discount of 30%. The second largest contributor is the mobile device / computer category which offers an average of 12% savings, and the travel category comes in third with an average discount of 7% across coupon codes.

Compare that to GOMSEC’s 2013 Asian e-commerce basket size estimate of US$1,268, and 25% in savings starts to look like a great deal.

Coupons from a merchant point of view

So, we’ve established that coupons are great for the consumer – it’s essentially free money for nothing more than a few extra clicks – but how does it benefit the merchant? Surely, earning as much as possible on every sale should be the goal of every business, shouldn’t it?

Well, yes and no.

After all, a steady stream of return customers at a reasonable profit margin is always more favorable that one-offs at higher margins. That’s just the way the retail world works.

Instead of looking at coupons purely as a way to offset profits for leads, merchants are starting to use coupons in more creative and brand centric ways. One of our favorite uses of coupons was championed by Uber, who provided free first rides worth RM40 (approx.. US$10) for new sign-ups through coupon codes.

Popular coupon searches on iprice

 

They weren’t giving away free money per-se, since the free gift actually required the user to experience their service in person. The free ride coupled with their strong product made first experiences memorable, and built lasting positive first impressions with new users.

In a retail e-commerce environment, first timer coupons are no less of a hit. Online boutiques – both big and small – offer larger than usual discounts on first time purchases. Marketplaces like Lazada offer instant cash back coupons for shopping through their recently launched mobile app.

Rewarding loyal users with coupons also helps to encourage evangelism, and the results can grow exponentially thanks to the wonders of social media.

Think coupons, think iprice

Built around the premise that online shopping should be much easier than it already is, iprice is constantly striving towards creating the best one-stop shopping destination for our shoppers. Our transition from being a pure couponing site in 2014, into the multi-faceted deal machine that it is today is a testament of our commitment.

Today, the iprice group of portals (MalaysiaSingaporePhilippinesIndonesiaHong KongVietnam, and Thailand) publishes daily coupons from 200 of Asia’s biggest coupon providers. The coupons are 100% verified by the iprice team, so you can rest assure of their quality and validity.

iprice is also an e-commerce discovery platform, and has successfully signed on over 100 merchants this year. The portals currently list over 8 million products across a number of categories include electronics, clothing, shoes, bags, watches, jewelry, toys, sports and home & living.

In an effort to grow the regional coupon market, iprice has recently partnered with REV Asia to produce a series of coupon sites on their biggest web properties such as SAYS.com.

Callum Connects

Mark Winterton, General Manager of InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay

Published

on

Mark Winterton has dedicated his life to achieving unparalleled and extraordinary guest experiences in the hospitality industry.

What’s your story?
I’m a seasoned hospitality professional with over twenty years international experience launching luxury brands, repositioning existing brands and driving innovation for some of the world’s most successful hotels.

As General Manager of InterContinental® Singapore Robertson Quay, I’m responsible for the strategic positioning of the property as the next generation of the InterContinental hotel brand and have been spearheading the hotel since its opening in October 2017, with the goal of achieving a unique and unrivalled market positioning as Singapore’s most luxurious residential hotel.

I started my career with InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG®) in 1995 and have since been dedicating myself towards achieving perfection. I find immense fulfillment in leading my team towards achieving extraordinary and unparalleled guest experiences.

What excites you most about your industry?
The hospitality industry boasts an extremely dynamic landscape, and we are always seeing new hotels opening alongside the entry of burgeoning brands. This growth has, over time developed positive competition and generated positive driving forces that have elevated the overall standard of the industry in Singapore. The industry has a dynamic landscape. There are many opportunities to bring the right people together and create amazing teams to launch or reposition hotels. The process of creating teams, inspiring individuals and then working together to bring a project to life is where I find the excitement lies.

What’s your connection to Asia?
The lure of Asia has always been very strong for foreign economies and companies, with great accessibility to new opportunities, customers, consumers and clients. My first foray into Asia was back in 2007, when I launched Crowne Plaza Changi Airport in Singapore. Following that, I was also based in Bangkok for a couple of years for the rebranding of Crowne Plaza Bangkok Lumpini Park. Over my years in Asia, I have had the opportunity to truly immerse myself in new cultures, establish new connections with key counterparts and friends; and these have further solidified my interest in and strengthened my connection to Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Definitely Singapore. Commonly known as the gateway to Asia, we’ve been blessed with a stable government, a sound political economy and a comprehensive infrastructure for reliable business operations. With tremendous efforts put in by the Singapore Tourism Board towards elevating the city as an attractive venue for visitors, the growth of Singapore as a key MICE destination, coupled with a cosmopolitan pool of talent, Singapore remains my favourite city in Asia for business.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“You can never be 100% ready for a new role.” I believe that there will always be room for growth and learning on the job. As long as a person is 80% ready for a new role, the opportunity should be extended. I am a strong believer in the development of people and the grooming of talent, and this piece of advice has allowed me to take more chances on people I’ve worked with and developed over the years.

Who inspires you?
Simon Sinek, a speaker with TED Talk.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I don’t think I can pinpoint just one lesson learnt recently, as learning is an ongoing process. No matter how small a piece of knowledge may seem, it should be valued. Everyday is a journey of learning and development.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing at all. I don’t believe in regrets and everything that has happened thus far, has had a part to play in who I am and where I stand today.

How do you unwind?
Spending time with friends over relaxed conversations and wine or working my green fingers in my balcony garden.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali. It’s one destination where I’ve always returned to, simply because it offers me the same level of comfort and familiarity each time I return. It’s where I can feel most relaxed, yet still be able to enjoy the vibrant dining scene.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott.

Shameless plug for your business:
Officially opened on 12 October 2017, InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay is the first international luxury hotel brand situated at Robertson Quay. Set amidst a dynamic, sophisticated neighbourhood along the Singapore River, known for its dining options and arts houses, the luxury residential-inspired hotel has been carefully curated by world-­class designers, architects and culinary purveyors. Located minutes away from the CBD, the hotel still maintains a stylish but laid back, relaxed feel in the leafy, upscale neighbourhood of Robertson Quay. The hotel offers 225 luxurious studios and suites, including an expansive Penthouse, which has unparalleled views of both the Singapore River and vibrant city via floor-­to-­ceiling windows.

The residential-­inspired property combines elements from Robertson Quay’s industrial and intriguing past with sleek contemporary finishes whilst seamlessly blending into the residential surrounds. Light-­filled room interiors have been designed to magnify the familiar comforts of home where guests may enjoy bespoke amenities such as a specially designed in-­room cocktail kit.

Established as part of a holistic dining and lifestyle destination, the hotel boasts a wide range of restaurant and bar concepts. Flagship restaurant Publico, representing the central core of Italian culture, is a multi-­concept dining destination comprising a variety of Italian experiences under one roof – a neighbourhood deli and bar and a ristorante with adjoining terrazzo by the river. Other highlights throughout the hotel include New York institution Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener, and a bar and dining concept from the team behind Izy Sushi. Over 40 other dining options await at the hotel doorstep, in The Quayside precinct.

How can people connect with you?
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/markwinterton1/

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

Continue Reading

Callum Connects

Joel Tay, CEO of Soft Space

Published

on

With a desire to run his own business, Joel Tay wanted to tick two boxes first – trying his hand in the corporate world and knowing the business he wanted to end up in.

What’s your story?
I’ve always wanted to run my own business. Before that, I needed to fulfill two important things. The first thing, having a corporate foundation, and the second, knowing the business that I’m getting into. First of all, after gaining experience with Ernst and Young, I started a school in Jakarta with my mother, who used to be a teacher. Some of my ex-colleagues laughed at me for doing this instead of working towards partnership like everybody else.

While the school was running, I returned to the corporate world because I was given a chance to try out something I’ve always wanted to try, consulting in IT Security, and this time with PwC. In my second return to the business world, I never looked back. I started a mobile device distribution company with friends, and later on diversified into IT Consulting in Mobile Device Management, and subsequently ended up in the payments business.

Today I manage Soft Space – a company thriving in the payments industry with a group of talented colleagues and engineers. The school I mentioned earlier is now in 8 different locations across Jakarta serving more than one thousand students.

What excites you most about your industry?
Payments are evolving so quickly; there’s so much to learn. No one can really say that they know everything there is to know about payments. I have learnt so much going from one country to another learning each time how payments work uniquely in each society.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Asia is Soft Space’s focus. We strongly believe that markets in Asia will be the primary drivers and innovators in the payments space for years to come.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Bangkok. I have a great business partner there, the banks are innovative, the market is huge and the people are creative.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
My parents reading Matthew 6:33 to me: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” This has taught me to prioritise the important things in life, and then everything else will fall into place according to God’s will.

Who inspires you?
My father and my Godfather. Both are men of principles who are very successful in their own trade, loving to their families and God-fearing.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The amount of money technology companies in the US lost in 2017. In Asia, and in particular SEA, investors won’t take two glances at your company if you’re not profitable to begin with.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Learn Mandarin. When I was young, my teacher gave a group of us a choice – attend Mandarin classes or wash school toilets. Every time I hear my colleagues laugh when I try to speak Mandarin, I think of that moment when we walked towards the toilet.

How do you unwind?
I watch movies with my wife. It takes us to another world and back to reality in two hours. No vacation can be so fast and effective.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali. Friendly people, great resorts and good restaurants.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. There are many lessons to be learned from the man who had it all, lost it all, and earned it back again.

Shameless plug for your business:
No one can claim to have one solution that fits all in payments. Your needs are always different and unique to the market you’re operating in. I’d like to think that we’ve been around the industry long enough to be able to advise and customise something for you. https://www.softspace.com.my/about-us

How can people connect with you?
I’m always just an email away – [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@crusaderdotcom

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

Continue Reading

Trending