In the hectic, all-encompassing world of e-commerce, how do you make your customer feel really special? Offer them a unique voucher code for their next purchase, says David Hall.
As co-founder of Uniqodo with Chris Giddins and Julius Somoye, David knows the power of internet marketing and is working on the development of this clever commercial platform which does exactly what its name says.
David strides across the reception area at the Sussex Innovation Hub in Croydon to meet me at the appointed time for our interview, his hand outstretched in welcome. We find a quiet corner to chat about the business.
First, how would he describe it? “Uniqodo is a tool for voucher code marketing that can be added to any eCommerce store. Digital marketing managers use our technology platform to control voucher code promotions and to enable new partnerships and promotional activity.”
The platform was launched in 2015 by David and his colleagues with an ambitious goal – to become the go-to place for companies wanting to run voucher code promotions.
The original concept came from Chris, who then needed a developer extraordinaire to bring it to life. He found Julius, known for his “amazing” knowledge of computer science. David’s background was in selling advertising, first for the printing industry, later online.
When the technical revolution arrived, David knew he had to be part of it. “I loved the internet and I wanted to do something with it,” he tells me. Dressed in a fitted blue flowered shirt and jeans, with cropped hair and beard, he is the epitome of a cool modern salesman and he’s obviously very good at his job.
He explains how Uniqodo began and what the next challenge is. “We started by ensuring absolute control of a promotion, by enabling our clients to issue unique single-use voucher codes via any marketing channel. Now we have the ambitious task of enabling next-generation promotional ideas to truly take creativity forward using codes as a marketing mechanism.”
David reminds me that brand promotions relying on customer loyalty are nothing new. First there were the chain store cards like Nectar and points system like Air Miles. Within the past five years, the internet has become flooded with companies offering deals in return for your continued support, but how can a business attract more customers and make them feel they are being individually wooed?
“Uniqodo allows companies to issue single-use, unique codes which are highly targeted and effective,” David says. One of the most popular ways of doing this is via a “blogger button”. Once clicked, this reveals a code which is individual to each customer. “It’s easy – and very effective,” David assures me. The perfect marketing mantra, then.
But it goes further. Uniqodo can also set up software to allow your company to create a limited number of codes and run a special promotion for, say the first 100 people who click the button. There’s also the draw of a code which is activated by the customer spending over a set amount – an excellent way of encouraging repeat purchases, says David.
So what does this cost the company? Uniqodo has a sliding scale of charges on a monthly subscription starting from £250, although David is happy to talk deals on a case-by-case basis. About 20 clients around the world have joined so far, including the Boden and Travelodge Hotels and Avis Budget Group. These global businesses are already committed to spending hundreds per month to issue unique codes to their customers, tailored to their needs.
So is it working? David proudly shares research commissioned by Uniqodo (see http://bit.ly/UqoWpap1) which looked at how online discounting works with customers. It highlighted one fascinating fact – that people spend the same amount of time looking for a voucher as they do finding the item they want to buy.
“We ensure the retailer has control over when and where customers find their discount codes,” he says.
It’s early days for Uniqodo and I ask who David feels is their main competitor in the business. “There sort of isn’t one,” he tells me. “Yes, every retailers’ eCommerce platform has some discounting function, we just amplify the incumbent service and give them a host of new ways to engage customers. We haven’t found anyone else who can enable everything we offer.”
So what of the future? First priority is to broaden the number of companies which require Uniqodo’s services, then David and his colleagues will work on their ambition to become “the platform for voucher code promotion beyond the eCommerce space”. Finally, they hope to create a product which is “so super-slim that it is part of the essential market”. There are big plans to expand into the US, perhaps fuelled by Expedia Inc, their latest client win and of finding a strategic investor to help this happen, but for now the trio of entrepreneurs is content to push on as they are.
And when they have any spare time? Chris is a dedicated bellringer at Southwark Cathedral, Julius is a new dad fighting sleep deprivation and doing his bit on the nappy-changing rota, David plays badminton and “Ultimate Frisbee” which sounds dangerous, but is clearly a lot of fun. I wish them all luck.