Five questions with... Fave

Fave's Singapore managing director Ng Aik-Phong says its focus right now is on its customers and the markets it serves, and it is not looking to expand into other countries or other sectors at the moment.
Fave's Singapore managing director Ng Aik-Phong says its focus right now is on its customers and the markets it serves, and it is not looking to expand into other countries or other sectors at the moment. ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Daily deals sites have found it increasingly tough to stay afloat in recent years on the back of rising competition, but Fave - the company that acquired Groupon's Singapore arm - has ambitious growth plans and is upbeat about prospects, said Mr Ng Aik-Phong, its local managing director.

Fave, which evolved out of fitness subscription service KFit, also owns Groupon Indonesia and Groupon Malaysia.

Mr Ng tells Samuel Chan about Fave and how the acquisitions have helped the company broaden its reach and gear up for the long term.

Q What is Fave?

A Fave is a local discovery app which gives customers access to over 5,000 offers from sectors such as beauty, food and beverage, travel and services. Customers can buy deals or vouchers to use at bricks-and-mortar stores for discounts ranging mostly from 20 to 80 per cent.

Our mobile app, which is free on the AppStore and GooglePlay, enables customers to locate deals using geo-tagging - pressing a button will generate the deals closest to you.

Fave is operating in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, with around 40 staff in Singapore, and about 290 in total.

We started off in Singapore as a fitness platform in 2015 called KFit but decided to expand into the food and beverage sector as well as other services such as massages and chiropractic services.

That's how Fave was launched as an independent platform in August last year. We focus on helping customers find nearby deals and offers which are most relevant to them.

We have also recently acquired Groupon Singapore and so have been working on integrating it into Fave.

Q How has Groupon been incorporated into Fave?

A Groupon focused on bringing huge discounts to customers in order to attract them. While Fave also offers a wide range of deals, we focus on helping customers find nearby offers which are the most relevant to them.

With the addition of Groupon, Fave added two new sectors - travel and services. We also added a lot more merchants to the platform. Merchants previously listing on Groupon were all transferred over to Fave, bringing our total number of merchants to around 1,500.

We have also added a few functionalities in the integration such as geo-tagging, ratings and reviews and cashback options.

Q Many people know Groupon as a pioneer of the online-to-offline business model. What exactly is this model and has it remained sustainable?

A The model involves the purchase of online deals to be used at offline locations, such as bricks-and-mortar shops. The value proposition of allowing the customers to discover the best places and deals has not changed.

However, the added concept of group-buying, Groupon's first model, has been removed.

In Groupon's earlier days, merchants needed the reassurance of having "confirmed" customers before they were willing to offer deals. Once Groupon was able to attract larger numbers of consumers, the merchants had confidence that they could attract enough customers even without group-buying.

As a result, Groupon retained the online-to-offline model but also evolved into a marketplace where merchants simply put up their deals on the platform for users to acquire individually.

It's the same with Fave. In fact, one of our customers, Pink Parlour, even commented they often have so many sign-ups they have to close the deal!

I think there have been promising signs for the online-to-offline model.

For one thing, we are already profitable, especially for our local business. Users seem to be using Fave more and buying deals more often and across more categories too. This is telling me that we are likely to see a rebirth of online-to-offline.

I believe that Fave's progress shows that if we understand what our customers want and innovate well, we can produce a successful app.

The pieces are in place for me to be cautiously optimistic about its prospects.

Q How will merchants benefit from offering deals on Fave?

A We help our merchants by helping them attract, retain and retarget customers for their businesses.

These three areas have been our focus for the past few months.

We also use data to help our merchant partners. Fave's merchant dashboard, called FaveBiz, provides a summary of the deals done - total vouchers redeemed, revenue gained, number of customer visits, etc.

All this data allows the merchants to see how their campaigns are doing, analyse the trends and compare their performance with their peers.

We also provide advice to the merchants based on the trends and discuss the types of deals and discounts the merchants should push out as well.

Groupon did not offer similar services. With Groupon, there was very limited sharing of data with the merchants. We are actually capturing a lot more data now and putting it into a form that the merchants can understand better.

Q What are Fave's plans for the future?

A We are not looking to expand into other countries or other sectors at the moment. We want to focus on our customers and the markets we serve.

Right now, it's about making our solutions better and understanding what the merchants need. We also want to improve our app to make it easy for users to find the right service at the right time. That's how we will become the "Fave" app!

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2017, with the headline Five questions with... Fave . Subscribe