In China, there are tonnes of LBS applications that are all trying to break into the lucrative local deal market. Many companies are converging towards check-ins to earn points and redeem a discount. Jiepang and Digu like Foursquare and Dianping like Yelp, are almost street-fighting for the local merchant market.

Down in Singapore, a new technology start-up company, Gozo Labs, has launched a  location-based mobile marketing solution. Called around!, this is a free-to-download iPhone application that offers shopping discounts in Singapore.

When users open the around! application, it detects where they are and provides a list of exclusive promotions available within the vicinity. Users who wish to access a promotion simply show the retail partner the Quick Response (QR) matrix bar code on their mobile phone, and will receive the discount.

 

 

Gozo Labs has launched around! at several locations in Singapore, including Robertson Quay, Marina Square and Chinatown. Gozo Labs has currently tied up with 18 retail partners, which are mainly in the food and beverage sector. These retailers are offering discounts of up to 30% and involve well-known brands, such as Spinelli, Subway and Fairmont Singapore. Next month, Gozo Labs plan to partner with retailers in the fashion industry, including G2000 and FOX.

Advantages to both users and merchants

The advantages of around! to users include:

1) The ability to see what promotions are available from their favourite brands located nearby, in a quick and intuitive manner;

2) Payment is made on the spot directly to the retailer, after showing the QR code. This

means no wasted pre-bought vouchers. It also means no situations where a user is

“tricked” into buying promotions with terms and conditions that result in higher prices.

3) User-friendly, fuss free, with no need for printed vouchers

The advantages of around! to retail partners include:

1) The creation of real-time promotions to convert passer-bys into paying customers. As

these customers are within the vicinity, there is a high chance that they will become

loyal customers;

2) Payment from the customers is made directly to the retail outlet, and not via Gozo Labs,

easing the cash flow issue and reducing fulfilment order problems. This also creates a direct bond between retailer and the customer;

3) No dilution or “cheapening” of the brand;

4) A new marketing platform, reaching out to a different set of potential customers.

Targeting 10,000 users by end of 2011

“Gozo means joy in Spanish, and we set up Gozo Labs with the intent of bringing joy to others, both users and our retail partners. Although we launched the beta version of around! Several weeks ago, we already have several hundreds of users on board. We will be aggressively pushing out our product and marketing strategy for around! and our target is to hit 10,000 users by end of 2011, with about 50 retail partners, and to keep growing exponentially,” said Xu Daxiang, who runs the product and business development aspects of Gozo Labs.

Driving Customer Loyalty

In addition to rolling out exclusive promotions, around! can be used as a customer loyalty programme. When both retail partner and user opt into the customer loyalty programme, the retail partner’s loyalty card is created, powered by around! on the user’s iPhone. Every time they purchase an item at the retail partner, they automatically receive a stamp. Retail partners can reward loyal customers with additional promotions after a certain number of stamps have been collected. By hosting the loyalty cards on a user’s smartphone, it reduces the need to carry additional cards, making it a cost-effective, user-oriented and environmentally-friendly option. Currently Sprout, Red House and Music Dreamer Live Cafe have joined around’s customer loyalty programme.

The entrepreneurs behind Gozo Labs

Gozo Labs is founded by Xu Daxiang and Quek Shu Yang, who met while on the NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC) programme, an NUS initiative that aims to cultivate entrepreneurs. After graduating from NUS, with a degree in Business and Computer Engineering respectively, Daxiang and Shu Yang entered the workforce. Daxiang joined Yahoo’s sales department and Shu Yang joined the Centre for Strategic IT as a software engineer. Daxiang now manages business and sales for Gozo Labs, while Shu Yang is in charge of the development of around! To date, the duo has raised over S$100,000 in funding, inclusive of their savings, a grant from MDA iJAM and funding support from NUS Venture Support.

Gozo Labs is currently being incubated by NUS Enterprise. The company can leverage upon assistance such as mentorship, business resources, access to networking events and entrepreneurial activities, as well as infrastructure support. Gozo Labs currently consists of 5 staff, and are based at the Prince George’s Park incubator.

“During the NOC programme, we knew we wanted to work on ideas that can have a positive impact on peoples’ lives, that solve real problems and pain points which people are facing using science and technology. We needed a couple of years of industry experience first, to boost our work experience, as well as to make savings, to see us through Gozo Labs’ start-up phase. Being an innovative, technology start-up, we have plans to launch new features to improve around! later this year. This includes showing promotions most relevant to our individual users based on their user behaviors,” said Shu Yang, who is the technology architect of Gozo Labs.