The Eagle Has Branded
DM: So Steve, over the course of the last 12 months, you had Russell Buckley join you post-AdMob briefly, get your marketing on track and then take more of an advisory role. What else has been happening?
SR: Quite a lot. We secured a £1.5m investment led by Sir Terry Leahy, the former chief executive of Tesco, and City retail analysts, Bill Currie and Iain McDonald. And we have grown our client list from four or five big ones to around 16 today, and these are major High Street brands running our technology. By the end of the year, we aim to have around 30. Some of these are separate brands within the same group of companies, but they are all distinct retail brands in consumers’ eyes.
We are seeing a dramatic increase in interest in mobile couponing and vouchering from retailers and hospitality (bars, restaurants) firms. They seem to have got the overriding message now that they have to be in mobile. I’m not saying they are all doing it right yet, but they do now see mobile as the glue between the offline and online worlds, key to driving in-store sales.
DM: And is there a trend towards coupon or vouchers?
SR: There’s no hard and fast rule, it varies by sector. In the hospitality industry, it’s mainly round discounting. In the retail space, the bigger ticket items tend towards the monetary voucher, but this is more a factor of the type of retailer and market they are in rather than anything else.
DM: The space you are in seems to be hotting up, with quite a few start-ups launching self-service platforms enabling small retailers to create their own mobile offers and coupons. How do you feel about this?
SR: I’m quite pragmatic about it. We have been around for quite a while so I think having all these start-ups coming in is a wonderful thing, because it helps keep the market energetic. We don’t want the old warhorses like us being the only people around.
I am a big fan of entrepreneurship. The market is still developing, so there is still a great opportunity for ourselves and for new entrants. Will they ever become truly competitive to us? I hope not but they have a chance to, and I wish them all the best because it is a young market, so there is a lot of space for these people to come in.
DM: And as someone in the thick of all this, what trends are you seeing at play currently?
SR: Everyone is talking about moving away from broadcast offers, into personalised ones. So not 20 per cent off for everyone, but 10 per cent for me, 20 per cent for you, based on your transaction history with the store.
DM: Doing it, or just talking about it?
SR: They are beginning to do it. The challenge is that very few of them have enough background data to make that targeting relevant, but they know they need to do it. With a lot of clients, we are helping them build the first round of data. But the ‘big data’ move that everyone is talking about may not be right for very retailer.
DM: And what about areas such as ticketing, cinemas, do you get involved there?
SR: We don’t trade in the ticketing arena but that was a conscious decision not to do so, because every cinema has Orange Wednesdays, so the job is already done. We are moving into the social gifting space; we power the Wrapp solution, which enables people to give free and paid gift cards to friends and family. We power the issue and redemption of the digital voucher. As we move into this brave new world, people, and brands, are realising that you can do some new and really innovative things.
As a result, we are four or five time bigger than we were a year ago, and our coupon volumes have doubled month on month for the last four months. We have had that lightbulb moment now. Brands realise that mobile is a key part of their world. Everyone is coming in to their stores with their mobile, browsing the mobile web, and we are the number one tech supplier in our space. It’s an exciting time to be in mobile marketing.
Steve Rothwell is CEO of mobile coupon and vouchering specialist, Eagle Eye Solutions