Trying New Services Just Because

I sign up for most “compelling enough” startup web services that cross my radar. If there’s a decent value prop, even if there’s plenty of haterade on Hacker News or Techcrunch about competitive advantage/too few features/too niche of a focus, I still like to see what people are doing. Something I signed up for the other day was, billed as a “Yelp for B2B”, which could have some legs. Right now they’re focusing on businesses experience with daily deals sites, which is a good vertical to start in because its got so much emotional capital and people seemed pretty worked up about them. So I wrote a review of our company’s experience with Living Social…we ran a deal last February with them on their newly launched Family Edition in the Southern Connecticut Region. I’ve since learned that the list size at the time we ran was incredibly small, so our conversion rate overall was actually pretty astounding, and our overall experience wasn’t too bad either. Here’s the review:

We approached LivingSocial for a deal on our new line of children’s toys back in December ‘10. We got approval to be run in the newly launched “Family Edition” for Southern Connecticut, a regional vertical that was still building its user-base. The planning for the deal was very easy, our rep was helpful and we worked with the IT team to help plan how to handle redemptions (we redeemed the vouchers through our website)…they were super helpful as well. 

As far as results go, the type of customer we got was not what I had been hearing on the blogs etc (unruly, coupon-clippers, angry, and so on), they were all great and very cordial. Some even posted reviews for us on Facebook and elsewhere. The problem was scale: it seemed the list size at the time of the deal (February '11) was pretty small compared to some of the national sites, so our overall sell-through was pretty small. Given the costs associated with redemption and fulfillment, plus some hiccups with shipping costs, it wasn’t quite break-even, though we did have about a 20% return customer rate, which was great (again, if the overall customer number had been higher I would have considered this a success). 

All in all, I didn’t experience many of the issues most local/small businesses seem to be complaining about, though I can see how they might arise. We probably won’t be running another daily deal, but it was a nice experiment for sure.

Who knows if this site will make it, I certainly like their focus. Though the quality of the reviews seems pretty lame right now. If they can take a few more pages out of Yelp’s book from the early days, that might be good.