Developer touts easy, secure mobile couponing

Developer touts easy, secure mobile couponing

Summary: With its coupon listings mobile app offering merchants a simple way to improve sales and customer insight, Singapore startup A Good Life sees path to becoming a sustainable "social enterprise".

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Singapore startup A Good Life (AGL) has developed a mobile coupon listings app which it hopes retailers would endorse for its ease-of-use and valuable consumer behavior insight. With this, the company aims to be one step closer to becoming a "sustainable social enterprise".

According to Koh Tze Yong, a director at AGL, the company is a joint venture between payment solutions provider Aptus Business Logic and mobile app firm Apps Foundry and was started in January 2010.

The team from Aptus is responsible for setting up AGL's backend systems as well as its business development while Apps Foundry worked on app development, he told ZDNet Asia in an interview. Both companies have pumped money into the joint venture, with the startup costs estimated at about S$100,000 (US$79,340), Koh revealed.

Improving retail operations
In creating the new mobile app, named "glo" or "good life offers", the company had focused on finding out what retailers were asking for and the tools they were lacking in, the executive noted.


Screenshot by Kevin Kwang

"We put in lots of thought with regard to retail operations when developing the entire system. Beyond that, we were also keen to make it easy to use and train frontline staff to familiarize with the system," he said.

The app, explained Koh, publishes a listing of discount vouchers offered by retailers that users can save for use when they patronize the merchants. That eliminates the need for consumers to cut out physical coupons from newspapers and to remember to bring them along.

Glo is currently available on Apple's iOS platform, with iterations for Google's Android and Research In Motion's BlackBerry mobile operating systems (OSes) scheduled for release by July, he added.

Additionally, AGL tapped on its payments background to provide an element of security and accountability for merchants, particularly when they are running large-scale discount campaigns, he noted. Participating retailers will receive a hardware token to generate one-time passwords (OTP), which they will use to authenticate customer redemptions. The OTP technology, according to Koh, is particularly useful to prevent accidental or purposed fraud.

"For example, if a retail outlet has set aside 20 redemptions a day, it will no longer need to wonder whether its staff had allowed for more redemptions than it budgeted for," he explained.

The app interface is also dynamic with a countdown timer integrated into the mobile coupon to ensure that no one can take screen shots of it for multiple redemption, Koh noted.

VAS as money spinner
Quizzed on the company's business model, Lennard Ng, fellow director at AGL, said during the same interview that the startup will be primarily a "classified ads-like listings company".

AGL, he elaborated, will publish merchant discounts via the app and provide them regular reports that detail, among other things, customer demographics and breakdown of where the redemptions were made as part of a basic subscription. The basic service has been offered to retailers for free since the release of glo in February this year, and will remain so until the end of May, said Ng.


Screenshot by Kevin Kwang

Koh added that the company will eventually offer value-added services (VAS) on top of the basic subscription features, such as customized in-app questionnaires and more in-depth reporting on consumer behavior. For instance, users wanting to download the discount vouchers would first have to answer up to a recommended three questions determined by merchants, which help to provide insight on their purchasing decisions, he explained.

The merchant reports are generated by two employees recruited from the Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD) which the company had trained, said Koh. In view of the upcoming data protection law, he stressed that aggregated findings, not individual consumer data, will be provided to the vendors in the reports.

Sun Teo, a marketing executive at The Seafood International Market & Restaurant, which signed up with AGL two weeks ago, recognizes the potential of the mobile coupon service on offer.

"With glo, we see the opportunity for targeted advertising and it will be easier to track consumer behavior with the generated reports," she noted.

According to Koh, since the app's launch, about 50 retailers have signed up, out of which 20 have ongoing promotions. AGL is currently working to win more merchants on board through "cold calls and referrals", he revealed.

Koh added that there have been 3,000 copies downloaded to date and the company hopes to hit 20,000 downloads this year taking into account the impending availability of glo on the Android and BlackBerry platforms. Furthermore, AGL is aiming to deploy the app in countries such as Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia by end-2011, he said.

"We hope that eventually this business will achieve sustainability as a social enterprise and continue providing employment opportunities for SPD members," Koh stated.

Topics: SMBs, Apps, Mobility, BlackBerry, Software, Telcos, IT Employment

Kevin Kwang

About Kevin Kwang

A Singapore-based freelance IT writer, Kevin made the move from custom publishing focusing on travel and lifestyle to the ever-changing, jargon-filled world of IT and biz tech reporting, and considered this somewhat a leap of faith. Since then, he has covered a myriad of beats including security, mobile communications, and cloud computing.

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    Albert Arens