Dealised, a white label group-buying startup, has received US$5 million funding to push its technology platform that reportedly will enable media companies and retailers in Asia and Europe compete with the likes of Groupon and LivingSocial in the daily deals and e-commerce space.
Due to the maturity of the daily deals market in the U.S., Dealised has adopted a different strategy from its competitors by targeting growth in Asia and Europe as well as developing mobile group-buying solutions.
To strengthen its mobile offering, Dealised hired Jonathan Marchbank, former Virgin Mobile COO for North America as CEO. He's tasked with building the global team and accelerate investments based in Singapore.
Marchbank, in a phone interview with ClickZ Asia, said Dealised will enable large companies such as TV and media owners with existing audience and merchant relationships to gain additional revenue through social and local marketing as an extension of e-commerce.
The platform will allow companies to acquire customers, view and use analytics and intelligence tools such as hourly updates on competitive markets, and analyse customer behaviour to send targeted email offers.
He explained the roadmap for its mobile solutions will include email offers in the form of vouchers, QR codes, and apps available on mobile devices. But offers in markets like India, Indonesia, and the Philippines would be delivered via SMS and Dealised aims to create mobile wallets through partnerships with mobile operators.
Dealised was formed in late 2009 to power Spreets, an Australian deals site, that was acquired by local publisher Yahoo7 for US$43 million last year.
Since then, the company has expanded to 15 countries in more than 100 cities and its clients include The Daily Telegraph and LiveBooking from the U.K., as well as mobile operators and retailers in the Middle East and the U.S.
To drive expansion in mobile and Southeast Asia, Dealised has set up its regional hub in Singapore and is in the process of adding headcount from the current 20 to provide technical support and account management services for clients in local markets.
Marchbank said the company is also reaching out to verticals in travel, food, beauty, and niche communities that are underserved in Asia and European regions.
In recent months, Groupon has stepped up its presence in Asia and its rival LivingSocial expanded reach through the acquisition of Ensogo and DealKeren in Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines last week.
Will traditional media companies and retailers be able to defend their ad revenues eroding from current group buying sites?
Shalini Verma, principal analyst in consumer services, technology and service provider research at Gartner, said they all have opportunities to play in the sector but need to combine group buying with their core strengths.
For example, retailers could combine their experience in managing loyalty programs and distribution with social commerce while telecom service providers can leverage carrier billing for group buying, she explained.
"Their success will depend on their ability to penetrate among merchants at a city or town level, and allow merchants to reach new or hard to reach consumer segments," Verma added.
In emerging markets in Asia, Verma advised group-buying sites should be available on mobile app stores and mobile portals as carrier billing will be more relevant because credit card penetration is low in these markets.
With group buying becoming a highly crowded market due to low entry barrier, she is pessimistic "very few of these sites will survive in the long run".
The series A funding for Dealised is led by SingTel Innov8, a subsidiary of the SingTel Group and Yuuwa Capital LP, an Australian-based venture capital firm.
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Adaline Lau, ClickZ Asia editor, oversees day-to-day editorial operations covering digital marketing from search to social media, mobile to analytics in the region. Before ClickZ, she was senior reporter at Marketing Magazine and has worked as a journalist for The Singapore Marketer and Asia Pacific Broadcasting. Connect with her @adalinelau or Google+.
March 19, 2014