#BrandFocus: The power of OneDayOnly deals
by Sabrina Forbes. “I didn’t wake up wanting to buy a R5 000 camera. But there I was, trying to buy it. This is powerful stuff,” says Maurits Vermeulen, co-founder of South Africa’s biggest daily-deal website, describing his first encounter with a similar platform in the Netherlands — the site that ultimately gave him and founding partner, Chris Oberhofer, the idea to create OneDayOnly.
Ten years ago
It was 10 years ago when Vermeulen and Oberhofer began talking about the concept of OneDayOnly. With no outside funding or partners, the duo began working on the business part-time while remaining at their day jobs, Vermeulen in corporate finance and Oberhofer in legal. Their first hurdle was trying to find external fulfillment people to help manage the processes of their site, which in its infancy offered only one deal on one product a day. They soon made the decision to bring staff in-house.
OneDayOnly currently has four directors, four shareholders, and approximately 200 full-time staff members, with headquarters in Cape Town. Leadership is made up of Vermeulen and Oberhofer, who are in charge of the brand and its vision going forward, while Laurian Guy heads up sales and marketing and Bernard Oberhofer manages finance and operations.
After a career in fashion design and retail, Guy joined OneDayOnly six years ago, when the only other people working at the business were Vermeulen and Chris Oberhofer. This began the shift offering more than one deal on one product a day. Guy realised there could be scalable options to the business but recalls how the shift to multiple products brought with it its own plethora of challenges.
Control over CX
OneDayOnly now offers up to 150 deals on products every day. It also manages the packaging and distribution processes of the thousands of units sent out per day. Once an order has been placed and confirmed, suppliers send the relevant product to its packaging warehouse for distribution. This way, the brand has control over the consumer end-point and the experience a OneDayOnly customer gets each and every time. Each package is also delivered with a “funky OneDayOnly surprise element”, says Guy.
The “monumental” (according to Vermeulen) growth the brand has experienced over the past two-to-three-years means they’ve had to learn to be nimble and optimise consistently. “We had to improve the operations of our distribution and customer service very quickly,” says Vermeulen.
“We learned that, if we grow quickly, we have to respond quickly in the rest of our business,” adds Guy.
Another challenge the team experienced was the spike in open rates in the morning with a very steep decline throughout the rest of the day. People simply weren’t returning to their morning emails. The introduction of the lunchtime deal that ‘heroed’ products not featured that morning vastly increased the clickthrough rates and purchases of OneDayOnly deals. The team learned that a morning-and-midday email drive worked, and this remains the structure of the business today. Plus, every last Thursday of the month, an email blast is sent with the previous month’s best sellers on special once more.
Because, every night the website is wiped clear, new deals and products are loaded, and the cycle begins again, marketing a platform like this comes with its own challenges. Unlike an online retailer that sells the same thing every day with little change, the OneDayOnly team starts from scratch every morning with its first email blast and social media updates, having only 24 hours to push the daily deals. Once the day is done, so is the marketing. Rinse and repeat.
Vermeulen admits that in the beginning, they really didn’t know what they were doing when it came to brand identity and CI . As they’ve grown the brand’s look and feel is simple but functional. “It’s bright, bold, and in your face at the same time. And, on social media we always try to add in a fun, quirky element,” says Guy. “We’ve got confetti on most of our posts,” adds Vermeulen.
Vermeulen set the brand’s tone of voice at the very beginning of its journey and did a lot of the original copywriting for the brand, his aim being to create a persona that people easily recognise and become familiar with. “OneDayOnly is a person, not just a company. A lot of people open the emails just to read the copy,” he says.
Relevant time-sensitive copy
Each email sent has relevant, time-sensitive copy that relates not only to the top deals of the day but also cleverly brings in references to current affairs and social culture. One such example is an email trying to sell a chair:
You might want to sit down for this
The world isn’t exactly rainbows and butterflies at the moment. Britain gave the EU the old heave-ho and went off in search of a better life on its own, and that’s just the start.
America has to decide between Hillary Clinton or the Trumpinator for their next pres, which is like playing Super Mario Bros and being given the choice of Luigi and Luigi. Trump’s (third) wife Melania had to resort to nicking her latest speech word-for-word from Michelle Obama — which admittedly, is as hilarious as it is worrying.
We face the very real prospect that, despite having three teams in the four quarter-finals, no South African teams will make the semis of this year’s SupeRugby campaign. And to cap it all off, we accidentally deleted our recently-PVRed Orange is the New Black without having watched a single episode of Season Four.
But on the bright side, here’s a chair with unrivalled comfort and style to match.
To sell a powerbank, the copy turns to a real-life experience almost everyone has had: the impending decline of a phone battery at a time you most need it to cling on:
So you have an interview for your dream job
12:17 Just under two hours until game time. You have a killer outfit selected, you’ve brushed your teeth and hair, and courtesy of a quick Facebook stalk you know exactly how to butter up your potential new boss.
13:08 You’ve only been driving for two minutes, but you have a sneaking suspicion you’re going to get lost. Probably nerves. Google Maps is just a few swipes away but you notice your cell phone only has 7% battery left. You decide to trust your powers of recall.
13:29 Turns out that was the wrong decision.
13:37 With your phone GPS now guiding you you’re heading in the right direction, but you’re running dangerously late. 3% battery left.
13:54 Traffic is much worse than expected. You’re never going to make it. You try call ahead to let the company know you’re on you’re way but after two rings your phone dies. And your chances of the job go with it.
See how spending R299 today can actually make you money in the long run?
Relationships the most important
From the outset, the OneDayOnly leadership team agreed that building solid, open, and honest relationships with suppliers was the most important thing for the business, and it continues to be something the entire company focuses on every day. “A large part of what we do is keeping up relationships with our suppliers,” says Vermeulen.
That’s not to say the relationship with customers is viewed as any less important. It’s a key part of what the team focuses its time on as it consistently listens to insights and looks at the behaviour of its subscriber base. By doing this, the business model can easily be tweaked to suit what customers want, and this can be done fast. “This is a self-funded business, therefore the ship can change direction very quickly. It keeps the corporate staleness away. We can decide to make a change and then so it immediately,” says Guy.
Looking forward in 2019, the brand aims to keep on its current track of increasing not only its subscriber base but also its supplier list, all with the aim of increasing sales. “We’re coming close to the end of where we can see what a proper company is supposed to look like,” says Vermeulen, adding that another challenge of its exponential growth in the past few years means it’s had to hire people for jobs never even thought needed. Examples include HR resources, business analysts and development testers.
When asked what the 5–10 year plan is, both agree on the continuous focusing on growing sales while only offering the best quality products, and both are dead set in their focus to making OneDayOnly the best daily deal site in the country.
“#AgencyFocus/#BrandFocus” is an ongoing weekly series updating the market on ad agency performance and brand, including innovation, initiatives, the work, awards, people and business performance.
Sabrina Forbes (IG) is an experienced writer covering the food, health, lifestyle, beverage, marketing and media industries. She runs her own full-stack web/app development and digital-first content creation company. For more, go to moonwrench.com. She is a contributing writer to MarkLives.com.
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