Vouchercloud – local discount vouchers delivered straight to the iPhone

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[UK] Vouchercloud, a new iPhone app, hopes to make paper discount vouchers a thing of the past. The free app enables users to find the best offers local to them and have the associated ‘digital voucher’ delivered to and redeemable from their phone – off-line in brick ‘n’ mortar outlets as well as online via a traditional discount code.

Along with location (using GPS), vouchers can be browsed by category, such as restaurants, casual dining, shopping, entertainment or days out and so on, and ranked by distance.

Perhaps controversially, while the app is free with 100’s of vouchers that are also fee to use, Vouchercloud is offering a small selection of high-value premium offers, which users actually have to pay for. That’s right, you’re expected to purchase select vouchers that will in turn save you money – this is how Vouchercloud plans to get paid too.

Dougal Templeton, Director of Invitation Digital Ltd., the company behind Vouchercloud, gave me one such example:

A local restaurant in Bristol called Goldbrick House is offering a voucher that gives a 25% reduction off the total bill exclusive to Vouchercloud.

“If you want to use this, and save around £20 on a bill for two, we ask you share some of the savings with us and pay £1.79 for the voucher. You make £18.21p on the deal. If you do not want to use this offer, you are welcome to go and get, for no charge, 25% off at Café Rouge which is four doors down the road”, explains Templeton.

For heavy users of Vouchercloud’s premium offers, there’s a subscription version too, which for a monthly fee may work out better.

While the online discount voucher space as a whole is already pretty crowded and there are half a dozen or so similar offerings in the US, Vouchercloud says it differs from other UK mobile voucher competitors. For example, Capital Eats and Lastminute.com’s Snaffle focus just on London and Local Sale Finder aggregates content already out there in the marketplace, says Templeton.

“We see ourselves as being a little bit different to their proposition in that we have invested heavily in negotiating every single deal on Vouchercloud as well as providing a fully integrated redemption process.”

Vouchercloud can already be used in over 5,000 outlets across the country. This includes major brands such as Coffee Republic, Fitness First, and Thomas Cook. And just this week, Giraffe restaurants and the Revolution bar chain signed up. The company has been able to strike up such commercial partnerships based on its heritage as a traditional paper-based ‘voucher book’ provider.

Another differentiator, says Vouchercloud, is their web-based merchant’s dashboard for retailers, which makes it easy to load new offers into the system. It enables any sized business to log-on and create an account with offers (voucher codes, mobile vouchers or printable vouchers) which they can then control and amend.

“We have had several people call us the eBay for offers – which we quite like”, says Templeton.

The app has seen 200,000 downloads since its launch a fortnight ago.

  • Brandon

    What a ridiculous comment in the article “perhaps controversially” there is a premium offering. That’s how conventional voucher books work, you would pay for the book but then by using the vouchers save way more in comparison to the cost of the book.
    The NUS extra card for students is not free it’s £10 for the year. However if you use it over the course of a year you will save more then that.
    The young persona national rail card is around £20-25 for a year and gives you a third off all rail journeys, so once again you will save over the year.
    People pay for things on mobile (hence the success of the app store) unlike the desktop internet. Hence the numerous babe services, people buying virtual goods on Flirtomatic.
    The free model has not worked on the Internet except for a handful of companies like google. Techcrunch journalists need to wake up to the commercial world.
    The Internet did not come with a microtransaction payment system like mobile. How do TV talent shows make their money by call and text based voting (where people pay and vote in their millions).
    AQA 63336 did millions of texts at a pound each, where you technically could find the same info for free on google.
    People happily pay on mobile as it does not even feel like paying (SMS shortcodes, apps) and there is little friction (see success in U.S of Haiti SMS campaign) hence the success of ring tones etc. Yet on the web, getting your credit card, filling out a whole form etc.
    So why is it controversial about charging, people are paying for virtual roses, this actually saves you money!

    • Steve O'Hear

      I wasn’t knocking the idea of a freemium model, more highlighting the fact that you have to pay for some of the discount vouchers on a per-voucher basis, rather than buying a book or membership card etc. I didn’t explain that too well, admittedly.

      Normally, you would have thought that Vouchercloud would get their kick back not directly from the consumer but through affiliate revenue from the retailer. Making the thing feel like “free” to the consumer.

      That’s all.

      And if you check out the reviews on the App Store, some users are confused by the premium offers.

  • M Fletcher

    Really nice app, terrible business model.
    With today’s offerings, would I pay to get better deals on purchases? Like hell I would.
    Brandon- you refer to antiquated, offline offerings like the NUS & British Rail. Really bad examples.
    When you look at vouchers utilising today’s technology (mobile & web) its all about freemium.
    myvouchercodes.co.uk, localsalefinder, vouchercodes.co.uk etc.. all follow the same model- successfully.
    I bet you haven’t “purchased” a voucher, have you? But I bet you’ve had a 2-4-1 at pizza express?

    Anyway, at least Myvouchercodes will have one “premium” customer.

  • http://www.vouchercloud.com dougal templeton

    Interesting feedback guys – thanks.

    Ref a terrible business model, you perhaps misunderstand ours (or we don’t communicate it well enough which may well be the case!).

    The premium vouchers are for exclusive, high value deals you will not find elsewhere for free which have been sourced by us at a lot of time, expense and ball-ache. Like I said, you give me £1.79p and I will give you back £25. Is that really such a terrible deal??

    We wouldn’t charge you for Pizza Express -or any of the 2-4-1 offers you can find elsewhere. But you will also get those type of deals free with vouchercloud – and won’t have the hassle of remembering to bring your paper voucher with you. Not to mention saving a few trees while you tuck in. Why so terrible?

    There are 100’s of worthwhile free vouchers on vouchercloud. And the app is free to download.

    We see it a bit like the Sky TV model – there’s a load of free stuff to watch but want the premium event, like championship boxing match? Then pay for it. Don’t want to pay? No problem. There’s more than enough to enjoy of the free stuff with new offers added everyday. Not to mention voucher codes too – also delivered via the app.

    Happily, there are nearly 100,000 active users who do like the business model.

    But we do appreciate all feedback – constructive or otherwise – and hold fierce internal debates as to the best service we can offer. Watch this space.

  • Timmmmeh

    I actually really like the idea of premium vouchers.

    If I wanted to eat in a specific restaurant and it would cost me £1.79 to get special voucher that would allow me to save £20 on my meal then cool, I’m sold! Don’t get what the beef is! Sounds like a win-win.

  • Brandon

    M Fletcher – Mentions antiquated business models, NUS and National Rail. Is that because they are not trendy web and mobile offerings?

    The NUS card has over 2 million students using it (at £10 a year) thats serious revenue.

    The National Rail card for 16-25 year olds likewise has huge figures, at £25 each.

    I own both of the above and so do all my friends, so these antiquated multi-million pound generating models must be so so out of date?

    Fremium is actually the buzzword and cool business model in vogue at the moment. Replacing the pre credit crunch, give away everything fore free and hope ‘advertising’ will save the day.

    Look at Evernote, their ratio of paying subscribers to free is tiny, something like 1.5% disclosed by their CEO. Spotify are also struggling, to convert premium subscribers.

    Obviously the likes of vouchercodes get an affiliate fee, per use of the voucher. However to the user if something solves a problem or they pay £1.79 which will provide them with a much bigger saving then it is a no brainer.

    118 118 is a mobile service that isn’t all about fremium in fact its something like 79p a minute. They generate millions in revenue.

    There is the trendy web startup business world with its cool cutting edge technologies and models (most of whom are to scared to charge for anything) and then there are real serious money making business out there as shown above.

    I’d recommend following Jason Frieds advice at 37 signals on real business models. Not we have 600,000 downloads but make little or no money.

  • Andy P

    its worth the download just to save the hassle of remembering to print off a paper voucher. Already used 2-4-1’s twice, worked seamlessly and see no reason why premium offer wouldn’t work well – exclusive pay x to save y must be a winner all round

  • http://www.localsalefinder.co.uk Colin Bruce

    Doug says that Local Sale Finder aggregates content already out there. It does aggregate but it also has thousands of exclusive offers directly with business owners.

    That aside, VC is a nice app well executed. Moving the payment model from business to consumer is interesting and groupon appear to be flourishing (if the number of copy cats is anything to go by).

    I guess the model lives or dies on the upgrade rate and the number of applications being used on a daily basis. However this appears not to be an annuity model and that would appear to be the missed trick: collecting flat, ongoing and smooth streams of revenue.

  • http://www.vouchercloud.com dougal templeton

    Apologies re LSF – didn’t realise that.

    I guess the whole paid/free debate has transferred from the online model to mobile. Win-win is exactly where we want to get to whereby there is sufficient free content to be of interest to any vouchercloud user and where there is definite perceived value int he premium offers, it becomes a no-brainer.

    It suits us that any business, large or small, can just upload direct to vouchercloud via our site thereby ensuring continued and refreshed choice on a daily basis.

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