Mobile coupon provider launches in Ireland as Vodafone takes controlling stake in the business
Vouchercloud, a UK mobile coupon provider, has launched in Ireland as Vodafone has taken a controlling stake in the business.
Vodafone Group announced today that it had increased its shareholding in Vouchercloud's parent company, Invitation Digital Limited (IDL), to 57%, from its previous 21% stake taken in IDL in May 2011 and, further to the transaction announced today, has the first option to increase its direct shareholding in the future.
Vodafone intends to work with IDL to extend Vouchercloud beyond the UK and Ireland over the coming months as part of the global communications company's broader mobile commerce strategy. Further country launches and details of Vouchercloud integration within Vodafone's other m-commerce activities will be announced in due course.
Guillermo Escofet, senior analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, commented on Vodafone's move: 'Vodafone's move to increase its shareholding in Vouchercloud to 57% reflects how central offers have become to operators' mobile advertising and marketing strategies. With rival UK operator O2 having built up a 10 million-strong community of subscribers opted in to receive offers under the O2 More service, and rival carrier group Deutsche Telekom having struck a partnership with daily deals site Groupon in January, Vodafone doesn't want to be left behind.'
Escofet added that the move also reflects the wider trend among operators of embracing the over-the-top model. 'Rather than focus its strategy on creating a voucher service specifically targeted at its own subscribers, it is investing in a company that targets all mobile users, regardless of which network they are subscribed to. In the globalised world of mobile apps, the limitations placed by operators' network footprints have become a huge handicap.'
The Vouchercloud service offers discounts, codes and vouchers for daily shopping from a wide range of high street shops, restaurants and leisure providers as well as travel and financial services companies.
Vouchercloud uses the smartphone's GPS system to locate discounting retailers nearest to the customer, then guides the customer to the shop's front door using the smartphone's digital mapping application. The voucher is downloaded to the smartphone screen with a single tap, then shown to the sales assistant in store to redeem the discount. Vouchercloud also includes a variety of offers to be used when shopping online.
Retailers can manage their own vouchers and discount offers via a simple self service online portal, enabling businesses of all sizes, from small family-run firms to multinational chains, to draw on a powerful marketing tool to increase footfall and sales.
Escofet continued: 'Vodafone was one of the most high profile brands in the big drive five years ago by operators to become key players in mobile advertising and marketing. It rolled out a group-wide strategy and set up mobile advertising teams in most of its subsidiaries. But, like most other operators, it has failed to capitalise on its unique position as a mobile operator to become a central repository of private consumer data for the benefit of advertisers. Too many barriers were in the way,' he concluded.
Vodafone Group commercial development director, Tobin Ireland said: 'Mobile couponing is set to grow rapidly across Vodafone's businesses as cost-conscious consumers increasingly turn to their smartphones to hunt for bargains and collect loyalty points. We look forward to working more closely with Vouchercloud in future as m-commerce services become ever more central to consumers' daily lives.'