Kenyan startup Vivi is integrating e-commerce with mobile rewards through its phone-based loyalty programme that builds a network of online vendors.
Launched in October last year, Vivi rewards users with e-vouchers when they spend money with merchants listed on the app, which include over 50 businesses such as The Wine Shop, Afghan House, Absolute Juice and B-Beirut Restaurant.
Users are rewarded with e-vouchers when they spend money on the app, which they can then redeem with any listed business. For businesses, Vivi offers an inexpensive marketing platform, with the startup covering the cost of the rewards and taking a commission on sales through the app.
“We aim to make users spend more on Vivi-listed business as opposed to businesses outside of the network,” co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Pearlyne Omamo told Disrupt Africa.
“The more they use the app to pay for the services or goods of Vivi-listed businesses, the more money we make on commission. Businesses will also see the value in Vivi due to attracting users and encouraging their loyalty.”
Omamo began building Vivi as an alternative to companies such as Rupu, aiming to build a marketing model that was less costly for businesses but more rewarding for customers. She said before Vivi consumers struggled to keep track of the various loyalty programmes offered by different businesses. There are benefits for businesses too.
“Marketing is usually a costly affair, with existing tech-based marketing companies such as Rupu becoming complacent and charging high commissions of up to 30 per cent after requesting businesses to lower their prices to attract more consumers,” Omamo said.
“Vivi consolidates businesses into one mobile-based loyalty programme. As long as the business is listed in Vivi users will know that they will be rewarded for spending on them.”
The startup is self-funded, which Omamo said has placed a lot of constraints on it in terms of developing and marketing the app. A finalist in the recently-postponed PIVOT East competition, Vivi is looking for funding to further its development and increase downloads beyond the current 100.
“We are trying to get a foothold of Nairobi first, then other major cities in Kenya in due course. However, this all depends on how much capital we can raise as well as strategic companies,” she said.
In spite of the marketing challenges, Vivi has already started gaining revenue from commissions, but is focused now on further developing the app.
“From the businesses that signed on to Vivi the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and it is encouraging to see that Vivi is an attractive option for businesses,” Omamo said.
Down the line, the startup believes data could be a significant revenue source as it collects information on the spending patterns of users.
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