Michelle HammondFollow on twitter www.startupsmart.com.au
“Our goal is to create the ultimate shopping destination where shoppers can browse through retailers’ offers and make smarter purchasing decisions,” Novikov says.
“There is only one condition for retailers to sign up – they have to be local. We won’t allow companies based in the US or China to advertise on our website.”
Novikov talks to StartupSmart about creating a connection between consumers and retailers.
What inspired the idea for Newsletters Direct?
We have noticed that there were no online services available where consumers could find the latest promotions from Australian retailers.
We also felt that overseas online retail started threatening local bricks-and-mortar stores as well as Australian online retail. That is where the idea of Newsletters Direct came from – the connection between retailer and consumer.
From our experience, every advertising medium out there pushes retailers to follow strict guidelines on what their advertising should look like.
We knew that it simply would not work if we asked retailers to create something new according to our specifications. That is why we have decided to use existing promotional newsletters, something that retailers are already familiar with.
How long did you work on the business beforehand?
We spent around three months on the concepts, design and development. The website was officially launched on July 3.
We had to innovate and push our imagination to the limit in order to put things together. There were numerous rounds of changes involved but in the end we stuck to pure simplicity.
What were your start-up costs?
The main investment in the project was our skills and experience that we gained working in the industry for the past nine years. Other than that, there were some basic investments for hosting and domain registration.
How did you monetise the business?
At this stage, we are focusing on getting more retailers and visitors onto the site. Once we reach a strong visitor base, we will start providing bigger exposure and extra services for interested retailers.
How do you promote the business?
We started with basic and important things like SEO – optimising our own website and building external links with retailers.
We use Facebook Ads, Google Adwords and Twitter, and engage with users on different forums and sites. However, we believe that the biggest promotion will come from our upcoming iPhone application and YouTube shopping channel.
How many staff do you have?
It’s just two of us at the moment.
What are Australian retailers doing wrong and how do you plan to help them?
Sometimes it feels that Australian retailers are just not proactive enough. Everyone got used to doing the same thing over and over again.
Lots of retailers think that having a website is enough to run a successful business. In reality, when compared to overseas retailers we are really behind and shoppers are turning their back on the local market.
The emerging technologies are growing fast and they are here to stay so the only solution is to adapt, innovate and act faster than anyone else.
We have noticed that shoppers don’t pay much attention to the latest offers from retailers they have signed up with.
Moreover, with the introduction of daily deals sites, the consumer attention is simply drawn away and retailers can feel the impact already.
Our service will provide information to consumers when they need it most. Newsletters Direct is the perfect solution for connecting consumers and retailers together.
What’s the biggest risk you face in such a volatile industry?
The biggest risk we might face is if bigger companies with unlimited budgets simply copied the concept. However, being a lean team, we can do things with more versatility.
What are your points of difference?
The idea is quite unique to anything that is currently available. Our system is a powerful, promotional tool that allows any Australian retailer to promote their brand and products for free.
We kept it simple so retailers can manage their own accounts and do any changes any time they like – add, change and delete newsletters instantly online.
As well as retailers, there are a lot of benefits for consumers. Our precise search engine helps to find recent offers on particular products or browse the latest news from their favourite retailers before they go to the shops.
Newsletters Direct is a new marketing channel that promotes a win-win approach: customers can save more and retailers can sell more.
Plus, with the introduction of our online video shopping channel, Australian retailers can be promoted to local as well as overseas consumers.