Frugalo: Taming the Daily Deals Monster
There are more daily deals sites out there than you could even count. Despite IRL record crowds in stores on Black Friday, online purchases set records, too. If there’s a brick-and-mortar retailer that doesn’t send out emails with flash sales, they probably aren’t going to be around for much longer.
It’s nearly paralyzing to make sense of it all if you’re the consumer. That’s where the startup, Frugalo, wants to help.
Let me make one thing clear: I haven’t bought a single daily deal yet. Most emailed coupons and sale notifications disappear into the black hole of my inbox, either deleted almost immediately or ignored until it’s out of date.
It can be completely overwhelming.
That’s why I was intrigued by the promise of Frugalo: A daily deals dashboard that would aggregate all your deals – and other sales you didn’t even know about. The reason it makes so much sense is because founders Scott Reynolds and Michael Cieri have been avid online shoppers for some time and love a bargain. Their inboxes were probably even worse than mine, and they found that so many of the deals and sales they received notifications about each day were things they were utterly uninterested in.
The duo – both formerly of Digg.com – decided to fix the problem rather than just complain about it (which has been my m.o.), and set about developing Frugalo. They started in June, got accepted into San Francisco startup accelerator AngelPad soon after and emerged out of beta last week.
The real potential of Frugalo, though, is its algorithm. Anyone who’s ever used Digg knows that it’s all about the algorithm. The Frugalo algo, over time, will learn what you like and serve up deals and sales to you based on what you buy, not just because that salon in the next town is having a sale on a Brazilian wax.
Frugalo also integrates into your online social life, enabling you to share deals with your friends (great deal on a day trip, but you don’t want to go alone?) and see what they’re buying, if they want to share. It takes what was always inherently a social experience – shopping – and turning it back into a social experience, just online.
Here’s how Cieri and Reynolds describe their offerings:
- Discover Amazing Deals – See a stream of great offers that match your tastes and interests. Stop relying on your inbox to look for great deals everyday. Frugalo learns from your past purchases, as well as what your friends are buying, and finds the best deals for you.
- Share Deals With Friends – See all the sweet deals your friends are buying. Get alerts when a friend makes a purchase on a limited-time offer. Collaborate on deal purchases and make plans to use deals together.
- Manage All Your Deals in One Place – See all of your purchased deals from any deal provider. Receive expiration notifications to make sure you never miss a deal again.
That last bullet point is key – Just like with gift cards a couple of years ago, daily deals sellers are coming under scrutiny in several states about their expiration dates on deals they sell.
As a consumer, it doesn’t seem to make any sense that the deals expire: After all, you bought it, why should it ever go away?
On the other hand, you can understand that a small business could have serious problems if it sold a bunch of deals in, say, June, and there was a run on redemptions in December, as people decide to redeem them as holiday gifts. Puts the balance sheet all out of whack. And the deals sites don’t want to be too proactive in reminding customers of expirations – more money for them and the businesses if not everyone actually redeems them.
So, I’m now a happy user of Frugalo. My inbox has gotten a bit less cluttered.
I still haven’t bought any deals, but that’s mostly because I’m cheap. I’m already seeing more things I might be interested in buying than I was when I just got the jumble in my inbox.
With the daily deals industry as saturated as it is, could Frugalo be the savior?