June 7, 2012 12:53 pm
Malta has immense potential for any online business, according to two young Danish entrepreneurs, who chose the island to set up the first portal that offers the local deals of the day.
“In our line of work – online everything – the opportunities in Malta are huge,” said Michael Pedersen, one of the co-founders of DealToday.com.mt.
The situation has changed over the last six years, he maintains. Back then, it would not have been possible to set up their business as customers were still going to shops even though the trend of online shopping had already started elsewhere, particularly in the US.
Apart from the fact that Malta offers practically virgin territory in this field, the partners are also backed by statistics that show the Maltese do make purchases on the internet, and not just from overseas.
“They are now convinced it can be more convenient if they know what they want,” Mr Pedersen said.
The figures may be lower than Europe’s, but he believes the market is evolving rapidly.
And DealToday goes a step further. It is not just allowing customers to shop on the internet, but also offering heavily discounted items and services, including restaurants, hotel accommodation, travel and wellness.
Users could benefit from a three-course meal at less than half price – to the tune of €16.
One deal is carried each day and subscribers are notified via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter, Mr Pedersen explained.
The concept is that “we only make money if our partners make money, so we share the same interest”. Companies get exposure for free, so new businesses stand to gain by using this tool, according to Mr Pedersen.
The one-time offer has to be bought within a particular space of time and the clock ticks by. Deals also have an activation limit in that a certain number have to be sold for them to happen. That also brings with it the incentive to share the deal through various channels and create exposure for the company offering it, which is what DealToday is really all about.
Users are incentivised to make the deal go viral. Once it is activated, buyers are notified and just need to print the voucher, or bring it up on their mobile device and present it at the establishment.
“It is more of a marketing tool than a sales channel,” Mr Pedersen explained. The idea is to attract new customers to a business, using Facebook, e-mail and Twitter, so it is important that they are motivated to share.
Mr Pedersen and his partner, Kris Petersen, are not reinventing the wheel. In Denmark, the industry is lucrative, thriving and saturated, with already 60 sites of the sort.
“The concept is big in Denmark. My 63-year-old mother is buying bargains on the internet left, right and centre. You just have to convince consumers that it is safe, that they are getting what they paid for and remove any scepticism. What is important is that they understand how it works. The steps for payment need to be made easy.”
But the bottom line is that people like deals. Malta is fertile ground, the Maltese are open to new ideas and the technology is there, so the Danish duo feels they are onto a good thing.
After all, Groupon, the company that invented the concept in Chicago, is the fastest growing business in the world, Mr Pedersen pointed out.
The men have been developing the platform for four months before proceeding to make the necessary contacts with businesses. As with every new concept, however, it has been a gradual process, even though things have turned out better than expected.
Offers are controlled by DealToday to be sure they are good bargains and not gimmicks, Mr Pedersen insisted. “At the end of the day, if it is not a deal, it won’t sell, and we only get paid if we sell,” he said.
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