A technology start-up company, Gozo Labs, recently launched a location-based mobile marketing solution called around! (www.around.com.sg), which is a free-to-download iPhone application that offers shopping discounts in Singapore.

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

Set up by two NUS Overseas College alumni, Gozo Labs is being incubated by NUS Enterprise, and has launched around! at several locations in Singapore, including Robertson Quay, Marina Square and Chinatown. The start-up is busy working on getting interest from more retail partners, mainly the food and beverage sector, but has also started to target the fashion industry. These retailers are offering discounts of up to 30% and involve well-known brands, such as Spinelli, Subway and Fairmont Singapore.

around! is a new marketing platform, with numerous advantages to both users and retail partners by providing:

  1. The ability to see what promotions are available from their favorite brands located nearby, in a quick and intuitive manner;
  2. The option to make payment 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. A user-friendly and fuss free shopping experience with no need for printed vouchers.

The advantages of around! to retail partners include:

  1. The creation of real-time promotions to convert passers-by 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 performance and cash flow issues while creating a direct bond between the retailer and customer;
  3. No dilution or “cheapening” of the brand;
  4. A new marketing platform, reaching out to a different set of potential customers.

around! can be used as a customer loyalty program by merchants, for instance, every deal redeemed can earn a virtual stamp, and merchants can take advantage of that to offer freebies for return customers or 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. Through its mixture of location-based deals, coupon discounts and loyalty rewards Gozo Labs hopes to differentiate itself from Groupon & Co.

“Gozo means ‘joy’ in Spanish, and we set up Gozo Labs with the intent of bringing joy to others, both our users and 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 the 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.

Moving forward, Gozo Labs will partner with more retailers island-wide, include other retail sectors and also bring the service to other mobile platforms.

By Daniela La Marca