How does the lone customer get the best value for money in the market place?  As a single buyer if you ask a sales guy for a discount on an item, you’ll do all the chasing: if you’re buying on behalf of a thousand customers he’ll be chasing you and will probably be taking you out to lunch as well.

Group schemes that bulk up purchasing power exist at every level of business life.  The new Dublin Town group illustrates this. It represents 2,500 companies in Dublin and recently launched a scheme that buys refuse collection services for its members, it’s called the Dublin Group Waste Scheme.

The savings from this have been projected by DublinTown to be €1m per 1000 companies. The benefits of maximising buying power look pretty obvious.

And buying power is what Dublin based GroupSchemes.com trades in: the firm was set up by Tom O’Driscoll and Peter Jenkinson in 2000. It operates online discount programmes for their client’s employees and customers.

Their asset is mass purchasing power. Retailers and service providers offer reductions on their products if members of the programme buy from them.

The GroupScheme Model

The GroupSchemes model is designed to offer more benefits to the client than traditional group buying schemes. Employers can get voluntary benefits schemes as opposed to established corporate schemes, where all employees are automatically enrolled.

The voluntary schemes can save the client money and still allows them to promote a benefits package that can help with attracting the best talent, which will become more useful as the labour market tightens with a growing economy. GroupSchemes says that the average member of one of their programmes can save €1,250.

It also markets other value-adds as well as savings in time and money: the scheme administrators keep clients updated on new discounts so there’s an emphasis on employee communication and the programme website is also badged by the client’s logo, adding the ever important brand association.

This is Employer Branding and it’s an area many companies are placing more emphasis on as they realise its importance when competing for talent. Verify Recruitment’s MD, Cathal Grogan, writes about it on his blog which you can read here.

GroupSchemes offer programmes for customers too. They’ve designed schemes to keep customers and maintain that steady revenue stream. The objective of the loyalty schemes is to persuade customers into repeat purchases and maintain a mutually beneficial “Loyalty Loop”.

The customer loyalty websites are developed in-house with integrated technology that generates word-of-mouth marketing and also communication tools for feedback. Additionally, the technology offers performance visibility as well as using trackability.

loyaltyloop

 

Expansion

Other GroupSchemes programmes focus on employee referral, partner promotion and a benefits for users of UK NHS trusts.

This last programme is specific to one of the UK’s biggest public sector organisations.Right now the company is attempting to expand its UK bridgehead. As of May this year GroupSchemes says  it has 250,000 members in 10 NHS trusts. And co-founder, Peter Jenkinson, told the Irish Independent in June that they are hoping to increase that number to 500,000 NHS users by the close of next year. To date, according to the company’s website, it’s managing northward of 230 benefits websites.

GroupSchemes-statistics

Community

GroupSchemes also creates a sense of community in the client companies. Payroll giant SAP said that the scheme organisers distribute a newsletter to its members that keeps staff updated on news and all of the latest discounts available. It is this kind of communication that can add value to the employee experience.

In total there are 350,000 current subscribers to all their news letters but impressively, members can also go to open days onsite where they can meet the retailers and service providers who provide the discounts. Clients range from big corporate names like Deloitte and IBM to the NHS and also include Irish household brands like Easons and Aer Lingus.

These benefits include the feeling of collegiality or belonging which extends to colleagues who rarely ever get to a Parc office.
John Flood, Director, Internet & Marketing Strategies, Parc Group

 

Marketing Opportunities

Online communities are crucial to the digital economy because this is where the new markets are found. And GroupSchemes offers access to these communities for its business partners.  One of GroupSchemes’ services is to promote partner brands to the members.

On their website they call themselves “Channel Engineers” and engineering sales channels between buyers and sellers is their core offering. They build and maintain these channels and find new opportunities for all parties.

We believe they offer more than that to organisations: they offer companies a way to boost their employer brand, making the organisation more attractive to new talent and helping retain the great staff they already have.

Every online community ipso facto creates new market places. Unlike temporal markets, the digital variety are always open and aren’t limited by geography either. Like other digital entrepreneurs, GroupSchemes has seen opportunities in creating online communities and managing the market places that necessarily arise from that.