BenefitsPLUS founder and CEO Paul Shoker refused to divulge the size of the deal though, and only said that it was an all-cash deal. "The reason we have acquired Snowball is to accelerate our growth in the market. It not only provides synergies but enormous economies of scale in various areas, especially in securing better and deeper discounts for employees," said Shoker.
BenefitsPLUS Media was founded in 2010 in New Delhi in a bid to offer a white-labelled e-commerce platform for enterprises. The company is now present in 15 locations and expects to employ 150 by December. Its sister company Digicore Pvt Ltd runs 11 call centres with 2,300 seats.
BenefitsPLUS is a part of DigiVive Services Pvt Ltd, a Gurgaon based group. Digivive is a mobile value added service provider, offering offer mobile TV and interactive voice response (IVR) services. It recently partnered with MTNL to launch NexGTv service for 2G and 3G users, Shoker said. DigiVive also has offices in Mumbai and New York.
The current deal is the first in a spate of acquisitions the company plans to announce this month, as it is targeting 10-15 per cent of the e-commerce market. The privately owned and funded BenefitsPLUS has set aside $5 million primarily for acquisitions, Shoker told Techcircle.in. According to Shoker, the company is on track to reach its target of Rs 100 crore in revenues by the end of this fiscal and will be profitable by the next 18 months.
BenefitsPLUS has acquired the assets of Snowball eRetail, including its customer base, technology and 1000 merchant relationships. The deal brings 15,000 offers across India and 55 corporate clients in IT, banking and insurance sectors. On the technology front, Snowball's applications and engine will help BenefitsPLUS in profiling end users, thus allowing them to deliver customised offers to their users.
Snowball has 20 people on board and its shareholders and management have to be retained. Founders Mohit Saxena and Krish have been appointed directors at BenefitsPLUS. Saxena, founder and CEO of Snowball, said, "From a strategic standpoint, this joining of forces gives our clients better value. We intend to provide several interesting and innovative benefit programmes to both employers and employees in immediate future."
Next, BenefitsPLUS plans to foray into daily deals. Asked about the reason behind shifting its focus from B2B to a highly crowded B2C market, Shoker said, "We are closing the ecosystem. Corporates get different discounts. B2C will give us an automatic leverage, as we won't be building it from scratch. We intend to grow inorganically to become a significant player in the daily deals space. So, we have also acquired two other e-commerce companies." Shoker, however, refused to reveal more information on the acquisitions, which are to be announced next week.
Gurgaon-based Snowball eRetail Services Pvt Ltd was founded in July, 2009, and also operates in the same space. It runs the retail site Snowball.in and offers products across 23 categories, such as apparel, jewellery, footwear, consumer electronics, fitness equipment, holiday packages, restaurants, books, furniture, kitchen appliances and other lifestyle items.
Through BenefitsPLUS' Privilege Program, employees can shop online and use services from local and national retailers. In return, retailers receive brand exposure to affluent and influential shoppers and can expect higher returns on their marketing investments. BenefitsPLUS currently caters to 100 corporate clients in India, but the names were not disclosed.
"Demand from companies wanting to motivate their employees is on the rise. Almost 60 per cent of employees access the Internet from office and 35 per cent search for deals online. We create a customised portal for employers, so that they can deliver employee welfare options in the form of online shopping and rewards & remunerations, with the involvement of human resource departments of the company. Employers are coming to us for our search capability, quick deliveries and customer services," said Shoker.
It has now 500,000 members and registers an average ARPU of over Rs 3,000. The company has 600 brands on board and offers an average discount of 55 per cent to users. Top-selling items on BenefitsPLUS include mobile phones and fashion lingerie.