If you’re one to keep your ear on the ground about new local web based services you’ve probably already heard about dhiri.co.zw. You guessed right, it’s a local deal-of-the-day site offering discounts on products available at merchants. The site is by C2 Media, a local creative digital agency with offices in Harare, and in Australia.
The site itself is not live yet and currently just spots a form inviting visitors to enter their email address or mobile phone number. It promises “one awesome deal every day” and explains that deals for the time being will be limited to Harare.
We contacted C2 Media representative, Nikki Kershaw, to learn more about the new site. She says that Dhiri’s proposition to subscribers is the quality of the deal. The platform is for “serious value-for-money offers,” she explains, “Our deals will not offer a few cents off products, they will represent value”.
The service will be switched on on 01 December 2011. Dhiri will provide the daily deal updates on both email and SMS. The site will also have a mobile version. Users without access to internet services will also be able to sign up via SMS but this functionality will only come in early 2012.
Kershaw didn’t elaborate on how the deals with merchants will be structured. The common structuring of the daily deals model is that owners of the service negotiate discounts with local businesses. There’s some kind of loose assurance between the two parties that a certain amount of people traffic will walk in and buy, that hopefully these customers get to buy more than just the discounted item and that eventually they prefer this merchant for future shopping. The discount is communicated to subscribers via email and (in Dhiri’s case) SMS. There’s no mention yet, if social media will be used but we imagine it will part of the mix.
On Zimbabwe’s high mobile penetration and relatively much lower internet penetration, Kershaw says while it’s difficult to find reliable information about exact figures, they believe mobile and Internet usage to be increasingly prevalent, and is set to continue to rise in the next few years. They also believe the market is ready for internet and SMS based solutions like Dhiri:
We believe the market is ripe and ready to take advantage of new technologies, but investors / clients are nervous. Part of the motivation for us to do this via SMS and email is to explore those options – and to do the research for ourselves. We wanted to create a simple yet effective platform to show people how we can marry the technology available with a receptive market.
Zimbabwe’s official internet penetration is 11.8% and mobile penetration 64%.
The concept of daily deal sites was popularised by Groupon in the US in 2009 and clones of the service sprang up world over. Groupon later went on a buying spree, acquiring its most successful clones. A close example is Twangoo in South Africa, which was acquired in January this year.
While it’s all daily deals, dhiri so far doesn’t appear to directly rely on the “group” concept of the model, but more on simply providing high value discount deals to subscribers.
The idea of providing discount coupons via an internet and mobile phone platform is not new locally either. It was implemented by EatOut during 2010 and appears to now have been discontinued. An almost similar service was also implemented, and in that case too subsequently killed, by Gikko.net this year. On why they will succeed where Gikko had to pull the plug (or at least are rethinking things), Kershaw says their model is different; Dhiri emphasizes simplicity “One deal, every day. On email or via SMS. Easy, simple. Dhiri – sharp”
The name Dhiri is a derived Shona word for ‘deal’. Short and catchy. The slight problem might be the occasional association of the Shona term with unscrupulous deals. “mface wemadhiri” for example connotes a guy of less-than-honest business transactions.