Whenever you and I go out to the store to get a meal, buy groceries or shop, more often than not, we’d be looking for the best deals or the greatest discounts.
Perhaps there’s been a time when you walked to shop A, saw an offer that you thought was pretty good for say, a cup of coffee. You decided to purchase it, only for you to walk two doors down to shop B and see an even better offer.
It’s at that point in time that you question why there isn’t a one-stop platform that you can check out all the discounts available around you. Bong Chhlat is here to fill that need.
Developed by Makara Kao and Huy Solida, Bong Chhlat is a platform available for both Android and iOS devices that uses location based tracking to link you up with the best discounts.
At BarCamp ASEAN 2016, the app registered over 700 downloads across the span of the three-day event and looks set for some major developments this year.
To find out more about the project, we sat down with Makara and Solida to have a chat.
The following interview has been edited for clarity, language and flow. Questions answered together are classified as BC, questions answered separately are classified by individual names.
How did the idea for the application come about?
Solida (S): It started because I like to go out and go to every shop that has discounts but I realised that you couldn’t find all the available discounts in one place. So I got together with Makara and discussed various ideas that we could put out to help compile all the discounts. We realised that putting all the available discounts into an app could help.
What’s more, if all the discounts are put into an app then we can also do away with the plastic or paper cards that people use and that’ll help with the environment.
Makara: Yup, and for me, it was all about trying to make something for the Cambodian people. So we had to start by finding out what the problem is and what benefits we can bring to the users. We saw that the problem was that many were using the plastic cards for loyalty discounts but they would forget to bring them along for their next visit. What’s more, from a practical standpoint, if you have 10 shops and each gives you a card, then you have 10 cards and you may not be able to fit them all into your wallet.
This was what inspired us to come up with the mobile app, to compile the various discounts and to take away the need for physical cards.
What are the key features of the application?
BC: Our application is split into 4 main sections – Featured, Popular, Favourites and Visited. Under the Featured section, users will get to see the various featured discounts from some of our partner merchants. In Popular, they’ll get to see the offers that a large number of users have made use of. Favourites will have a collection of their favourite stores and offers while Visited will be a list of all the stores they have previously patronised.
In terms of how users can redeem the various discounts, they’ll simply need to select the store they would like to use the discount at and they will receive a QR code through the app which they can scan at the stalls. Users will also be able to filter the stalls according to a variety of categories like food, fashion and electronics.
Another key feature is the map – where users will be able to see all the stalls within the vicinity and look at the discounts they are offering.
What is your strategy to grow Bong Chhlat in 2017?
BC: We launched the app in November last year and our primary focus for now is to populate the app with users. In terms of on-the-ground initiatives, we are targeting university students because we looked into the market and realised that teenagers are the group that are most familiar with technology.
On top of that, we’ll also look into marketing the app at big events and conferences. When it comes to bringing the shops on board, we’ve done that quite manually in the sense that we jump from shop to shop to invite shop owners to register with us.
In addition to these on-the-ground strategies, we’re also working on an online strategy that will include social media as well as popular websites and blogs.
Are there any additional features you’re looking to add to the app?
BC: Of course! In fact, we have a whole list of potential features that we think could be added. These include ideas like having pop up notifications to notify customers when they are close to a certain shop, or allowing them to track their spending through the application. We’re currently in the process of narrowing down which features to add and while we have a plan as to what we would like to roll out first, we’ll take it step by step to gauge the market’s response and tweak our additions in that way.
For now, our next step will be to let shop owners release the catalogues of their shops so people can take a look on the go, be it a menu or a clothing line. With that, we think that the next step would be to offer discounts for specific items in each of the catalogues instead of a storewide offer.
What would be the impact that you hope Bong Chhlat will have on Cambodia?
BC: We really hope that in the future, the app will help people save money by offering the best discounts and helping them to track their expenses. In this way, they’ll then be able to see how much they are using and saving across a period of time.
Furthermore, by removing the need for plastic cards, we hope that it will change the mindset of the people in terms of their traditional marketing tactics – that they will look at how they can use technology to create something that’s easier to use.
Indeed, it’s really great to see how technology is being used to improve our everyday life by letting us know where the best deals are!