UPDATE** May 22nd
It has been confirmed based on communications I have received from Rogers Media directly that rDeals is in fact migrating to The Shopping Channel where its capabilities and product deals would be better suited. Given that the Shopping Channel was probably one of the originators of the “DEAL” with their “Show Stopper” concept, it makes sense that the Shopping Channel take over the reigns. Now, the focus will certainly be on national product deals. Rogers Media will no longer be focused on trying to offer Local Deals.
END OF UPDATE**
Based on our sources and spies across the land, we believe that rDeals, the online deals service from Rogers is calling it quits. We have tried to get a confirmation from the top brass at Rogers, but no one has reached out yet. All signs show that Rogers may end rDeals.ca within the next few weeks. (low deal quantity and customer service emails letting it slip that they are shutting down kind of gives it away!)
What started out as a possible behemoth has turned out to be, from an industry perspective, a sports car that never got out of the parking lot. Over funded, over charged, over sponsored and over managed, yet underwhelming. A shame really. Rogers has about 9.4 million wireless subscribers, about 2.3 million cable subscribers, about 1 million internet subscribers, 1.5 million weekly viewers to the Shopping Channel and about 17 million as an overall reach for their online properties. The simple fact that they could not develop and grow an eCommerce deals service in Canada that was sustainable and a leader in the country is, well, a little bit unbelievable given Rogers’ resources. Based on the latest information we have, rDeals was driving between 200-300 Thousand in sales per month. So about $3million per year. Most of which came from non local offers, so products deals. Given what we know of the market and its competition, rDeals should have been generating at least $2 million per month.
With the size of their wireless subscribers alone, which includes me, it frustrates me to no end that they could not offer these subscribers deals worth our time… restaurant deals are worth our time, health and wellness is worth our time, weekend getaways and cool activities are worth our time, how about correlating deals to the amount spent on the wireless bill. You spent $150 last month, thank you for being a Rogers customer, here is 30% off movie tickets to thank you, or 35% a blue tooth accessory at Best Buy, etc. I never got emails or texts like that from rDeals. Instead, the majority of products were either subscriptions to Rogers Publishing magazines or accessories and clothing; many things that can be found on other deal sites, better deal sites like Wagjag, Teambuy, Groupon and Tuango in Quebec. rDeals never offered many Local offers, and thus, consumers simply put rDeals into the “another product deals site no different than others” category.
What Rogers found out was that the business of Local offers is HARD and expensive, even for Rogers. The last thing Rogers wants is to support another eCommerce store full of merchandise. They already have one of those, it is called The Shopping Network. If rDeals could not offer something of significant value and difference to the Shopping Channel, then it is not worth supporting. Also, Rogers does not do “Local” very well. If the Yellow Pages had a hard time doing local then Rogers better come at it in a different way. Local is hard.
Side note: rDeals is on the Group Commerce platform (Nimble Commerce and Group Commerce merged in May). If they do shutdown, then the only large deals service on the Nimble Platform in Canada that is left is Tuango.
Here is my question going forward?
Why shut it down? Why shut down a brand that has been developed and can easily access the millions of Rogers subscribers. Instead retool. Rethink how best to offer “deals” to subscribers. Certainly, shut down the main cost center, but rethink how best to leverage the Rogers subscriber. Here are some options that are significantly cheaper and probably more profitable for Rogers.
1. Provide aggregated offers from around the country through rDeals to rDeals and Rogers subscribers. rDeals would essentially become the largest deals aggregator in the country overnight and possibly command strong power over deal providers.
2. Use rDeals as a marketing vehicle for deals and partner with existing deal providers (Teambuy, Wagjag, Tuango) and big box retailers to distribute and promote deals and offers to the Roger subscriber. This is an advertising and marketing play and in line with how Rogers Media delivers revenue. This strategy is doable. Deal providers and especially Big Box stores invest heavily in deal marketing and coupon marketing through other distribution partners such as affiliate networks Commission Junction, Linkshare, etc. Why can’t Rogers just step in and become a preferred marketing and distribution partner for these retailers and deal providers. They could. The tech platform is already there for rDeals, or they can use other platforms available for deals distribution such as those from Crowd Source development or Simply Good Technologies. And the brand and distribution process is already there. The team would now be part of Rogers Media and publishing and the strategy would be a marketing and advertising play. The goal is to stay away from investing directly in “local” initiatives. Seems feasible, but I have not talked to Rogers executives on this to know if that makes sense for them.
What I do know is that consumers want deals. They always will. Although growth has slowed in the daily deals space, growth in the overall deals space is still moving up and consumer demand is still growing and Rogers has one of the largest subscriber lists in North America to leverage. Seems a shame to not leverage it to drive further advertising revenues.
I, for one, would like to have a conversation with Pary Bell: the VP and GM for Rogers Media, with Corby Fine; senior director and key person that started rDeals, Jason Taffler it’s Chief Digital Officer and with Robyn Walters: senior director of rDeals. These 4 individuals are responsible for the direction of rDeals and for Rogers Digital. They have done their analysis and they alone will determine if it is worth it for Rogers to provide the market with a deals program, albeit a different one than at present.
I believe a renewed rDeals has a life within Rogers and certainly across Canada. Perhaps having a conversation with Pary, Corby, Jason or Robyn would be worthwhile.