It has been nearly two months since Simon Bird was announced as UK Director of Retail Partnerships at Savoo.co.uk.
We spoke to Simon, and asked him how he plans to shape Savoo's aggresive growth strategy in a very busy, evolving sector within the Affiliate Channel, and where he sees the online retail space heading over the remaining periods of 2010.
How will Savoo.co.uk be instrumental in developing the affiliate marketing space in the future?
There are a number of ways in which Savoo will be instrumental in developing the affiliate marketing space. Fundamentally, this will be achieved through continued research and enhancement of the consumer experience and through dedicated adherence to strict quality assurance - such as our pledge of no expired codes or deals. Savoo actually employs a team of dedicated ‘Deal Hunters’ who are solely responsible for ensuring that all deals, whether it’s a Tesco discount voucher or an Argos voucher code, are live and accessible.
We will also be working extremely closely with retailers to be highly strategic and tactical with their activity, ensuring that these relationships are mutually maximised and beneficial.
Social media will play a key role in targeting consumers in their product research phase. Our investment into social media channels and in exploring the ‘mashing up’ of technologies with other publishers, such as mobile technology; will be pivotal in both capturing consumer data and research, and in developing ongoing loyalty.
Alongside this will be our continued dedication to research and thought leadership that will help to communicate to the industry, the sustained added value that voucher code sites offer in targeting deal-sensitive consumers, if used in the right, tactical way.
How does Savoo plan to replicate the success of its US parent company savings.com whilst making its offer relevant to the UK?
The key to replicating the success achieved in the US lies in the implementation of the team’s dexterous approach, along with exploiting the shared infrastructure. As I mentioned above, consumer conversion and working strategically with merchants is imperative to ongoing success and our dedication to raising industry standards through thought leadership and support of central groups such as the Affliliate Marketing Council (IAB) and IMRG, will also help to strengthen our standing and the industry’s standing as a whole.
Raising standards is at the heart of Savoo.co.uk’s philosophy. The company holds an incredibly strong ethos of hiring only the best people from their chosen field, whether that is technology, marketing, or retail partnerships. The US team actually includes a group of UK expats, who not only have the experience of what works well over there, but also what works in the UK and what ideas can be transferred etc.
Technology is where Savoo.co.uk really excels. The website’s back-end technology is constantly being developed and fine tuned to optimise the consumer journey. Tapping into key trends and communication tools, such as social media and viral marketing will help us to build a strong, respected brand that reaches and appeals to a wide consumer audience.
How will your personal experience shape Savoo’s well documented aggressive growth strategy?
Having started my career sixteen years ago working in business development for online technology companies such as Softpoint Multimedia UK Ltd and AOL; I have acquired extensive experience in building merchant relationships and in developing effective online loyalty and acquisition programmes.
Prior to joining Savoo.co.uk I had been working in the affiliate industry for going-on four years, including as a Brand Sales Manager at Affiliate Window (part of Digital Window), one of the largest Affiliate Networks in the UK, where I was involved in securing large online merchants to the affiliate marketing network as well as developing strategic relationships with the UK's top digital and interactive agencies. In this role I secured over 300 brand partnerships, driving gross profits in excess of £1.5m (in their first year on the network) and secured high profile wins including Sky, BA, Boden & New Look.
This experience has offered me a deep understanding of how merchants want to work with voucher code affiliates more strategically, which is pivotal to our growth strategy.
What makes Savoo.co.uk different from other online voucher code sites?
Savoo is intrinsically different from other online voucher code sites for many reasons, but one of the key differentiators is that it is arguably the UK’s first voucher code brand that is building its reputation purely on its great deals, community experience and unrivalled merchant relationships, rather than synonymy with voucher codes. To give an example, if you were at a party and someone mentioned a great deal they had found on a voucher site; if you asked for the name of that site and it was laden with ‘voucher codes’ or ‘discount codes’, then this name is not going to help you differentiate it from all the many sites. We want to become like the Ikea of the voucher industry!
Savoo.co.uk is dedicated to creating a superlative experience for both consumers and for the merchants. It aims to achieve this by really getting back to basics and taking the time to understand a merchant’s business by asking: what do they want and what do they need? How can we help this merchant increase their basket values, cross sell to existing customers, as well as attract new ones? How do we help them get rid of season lines and sell products that attract a better margin?
We know that it’s not just about redeeming vouchers; we really put ourselves in the merchant’s shoes to understand how we can help their business across the whole spectrum.
As well as supporting our merchants, we also strive to offer consumers the simplest road to the best deals online, as well as providing a superior shopping experience.
The Savoo.co.uk website has a unique social networking. feature that allows the community to share tips and deals and become a ‘Deal Expert’, earning the respect and admiration of fellow members. Or they can contribute to the community by voting and commenting on deals, which also lets the Deal Experts know they appreciate their savings savvy.
As I touched upon earlier, Savoo.co.uk also has a dedicated team of Deal Hunters who scour the web to find top offers in every category from food to travel, ensuring that they’re active and offering the best savings.
Savoo.co.uk’s mission is to be a true consumer champion by offering consumers the straightest, simplest road to the best deals online, as well as by offering lots of exclusive deals.
Where do you see Savoo and the online retail space heading in 2010?
2009 was a challenging year for retail but at the same time it provided opportunity by contributing to the increased popularity of online retail. Despite the recession improving, it is vital that retailers embrace vouchers and good deals.
We’ve seen further growth of voucher discount codes as consumers increasingly look for smarter ways to shop in the tight economy, but the UK still has a way to go in catching up with the US, where online voucher code awareness is 400% higher than the awareness in the UK.
2010 promises to be another challenging year and to gain success in these conditions, retailers will need a sales strategy that sends messages to their audience individually. I think that retailers will move more of their budget into performance-led activity in order to balance out the cost of sales against traditional marketing budget.
They’ll need to ensure that the affiliates they work with add value to their offering by being able to fit into their segmentation plans. As the online retail space grows, affiliates will need to get even closer to their audience and leverage their relationships with online retailers.
As consumers continue to become more savvy in the way that they shop, the online and offline experience will continue to merge, requiring a greater multichannel approach from the industry that will need to accommodate integrated points of access for technologies such as mobile and the onset of the iPad, for example.
The need to provide a richer consumer experience will be imperative, requiring an integrated approach that engages and leverages partnerships (potential and existing), targets messaging, and creates advocacy to get closer to the audience.
Online communities and social interaction will continue to evolve with more emphasis placed on user-generated content and positive user reviews and ratings. Improvements to the visual experience will also be key, utilising technologies such as 3D and 360 degree rotation systems.
Where can people find out more about Savoo.co.uk?
How can we get in touch with you?
Retail Partnerships Director
M: +44 (0)7738 320 936
Linked In: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/simonwbird