Online retailers like Amazon or Ebay and traditional shopbots like Kelkoo or Google Shopping have recently gained an unexpected rival in the form of new tech start-up Flubit.com.
Launched last year by ex-film producer and former Neville Longbottom double Bertie Stephens (for three years during the Order of the Phoenix), Flubit is a unique private service. Its sole aim is to provide customers with a better price offer on almost anything they want to buy.
The way it works is that users send the product URL of the object they’re looking to purchase to Flubit, and within 48 hours find an email sitting in their inbox with a cheaper price. Flubit say that most offers are provided within a day, with an average reduction of around 12% off the price found by the user.
The start-up has already established 10,000 users and met 25,000 demands during its three-month trial period. It isn’t a deal site along the lines of Groupon – rather, Flubit takes your link to the item and negotiates directly with the supplier to get a better price. 200 merchants have already signed up, giving access to a network of over two million items.
Once the better offer has been found, the customer is under no obligation to buy – but if they do decide to do so, they have a limited pay window and they have to buy via Flubit.com itself. The site makes money off the back of micro-commissions gained from the relationship with the retailer.
Because offers made are individual and private, Flubit is able to circumvent controls over distribution by big retailers such as Google or Apple that prevent advertising below a set price. It similarly avoids the big commissions commanded by influential online retailers like Amazon.
Flubit argues that this is what makes it stand out; it gives the power back to the consumer in the face of those select players who have a stranglehold on the e-shopping environment, whilst also saving them some money.
Stephens comments, “By stripping-away the hassle and confusion often associated with spending hours online, Flubit is starting to change the way we shop.
“When I started the company it was important that the service was personal to each and every customer who comes to Flubit. We’re thrilled that this human touch is already proving popular, with 93% of our customers giving us a 4 or 5 star rating.”
Does the site work though? Many of the 23,400 odd likers of the Facebook page seem to think so. One recent post by Liam Matthews, from the West Midlands, gave Flubit a 10/10, commenting, “Flubit, the deal you provided was excellent and when I discovered a problem with the item your support team were the best I have ever spoken to. Within two hours of logging the original fault a new item had been dispatched to me – I will definitely be using your service again and recommending you to everyone I know.”
Not everyone has had the same experience, with some problems being faced with the site or with delivery. Londoner Adam Bahmani had one such complaint, commenting, “Preordered a game a month ago using Flubit; you didn’t update me on anything, and the day on which it’s released I call you for you to tell me that the supplier is out of stock? Fair enough, but why wasn’t I updated before?” However, the level of responsiveness in solving issues by Flubit’s 35-strong team, which includes ex-Ebay, Apple and Disney experts, was widely acknowledged. 40% of customer service cases are cracked in under an hour.
I gave Flubit a go myself, sending them the URL for a Packard Bell laptop that was already discounted from Tesco.com. They got back to me within 24 hours with a price reduction offer of £23.14. Not quite the 12% I’d been hoping for (at about 5%), but not bad for a day’s wait. Tempting…