Deals. Who doesn’t love a good deal?
For today’s small businesses, finding a lower price deal can be a simple, first-step solution in reducing everyday expenses which can ultimately boost profits and maybe – down the line – boost their business to a whole new level within their industry.
Discovering those deals, however, can be a time-consuming drain. You could spend hours on the Internet, wading through offers you don’t need, and then, when you find something that your business could actually use, comparing and cross-checking with other platforms may leave you asking, “Is this deal even worth it? How valuable is my time?”
Enter Capital One Spring which offers an innovative alternative to the discount service/product platform landscape. The service is a deal shopping website from a financial institution that’s one of the largest banks in the United States. Aimed directly at small and growing businesses, Spring offers incentives that at one time may have been reserved exclusively for bigger businesses …leveling the playing field a bit for SMBs throughout California.
Launched four years ago to reward Capital One customers with pre-negotiated discounts on select products and services, Spring today is available to any small business regardless of whether they are a Capital One customer or not. . There is no fee to join or any expectations to become a Capital One customer.
Spring’s “corporate rate” deals are extended to all registered users with literally no strings attached, says Kyle Murdoch, Vice President of Product Management at Capital One Financial. “Spring wants to be the first choice in the marketplace,” he says – and small businesses across the country are taking advantage of what Spring has to offer, getting discounts as much as 45-60 percent off retail cost.
As of October 2022, there are more than 1,500,000 registered Spring users, with new ones signing up daily. “We’ve been adding between 20,000 to 50,000 new Spring members every month,” says Murdoch describing how third-party and word-of-mouth recommendations have fueled sign-ups. “We never expected this service to grow so fast and be utilized so much. We may get close to two million users by the end of the year.”
Indeed, the initial concept of Spring had little marketing push behind it. The original idea was an added benefit for Capital One customers. When they logged online into their accounts, customers could discover select marquee deals. But then, says Murdoch, the Spring sales team got really good at securing corporate rate deals from big merchants such as FedEx, Verizon, Priceline, etc.
Realizing they could fulfill one of Capital One’s missions of being “a bank for good,” management decided to expand and offer Spring deals to small businesses – even small businesses that didn’t bank with them. Alternatively, merchants that supply the deals would now have the opportunity to be visible to a whole new stream of potential buyers. “We really have two sets of customers we serve with Spring,” explains Murdoch.
With benefits for small businesses and large merchants in mind, two years ago, Spring opened its doors to non-Capital One users – and the service’s overwhelming success is setting the stage for further expansion.
How to ‘Spring’ forward
Looking ahead on the strategizing front means first analyzing customer trends. Murdoch explains that most current registered users of Spring are from urban and semi-urban areas.
A scan of zip codes in California reveals that the type of small businesses that take advantage of Spring deals are single-family construction companies, business consultants (marketing, PR, etc.), business services like cleaning, human resources, tax preparation, etc., and restaurants. These are businesses, says Murdoch, “that
have between 1-10 employees, so they have the least amount of time to search for the best deals on things they use regularly.”
Being associated with Capital One provides some foundation for client understanding, says Murdoch. “We have a wealth of aggregated data from credit card transactions that we access for trends,” he says. “In broad buckets, we know what people spend money on.”
While some Spring deals are evergreen, Murdoch describes how seasonality plays a role. “For example, this summer, during high gas prices, discounts at Shell and Pilot Flying J stations were very desirable. Microsoft and Dell computers are more apt to be purchased around back-to-school time. Merchants are savvy in how and when to offer a deal.”
During the pandemic, certain categories of goods and services spiked. Since fewer people were flying, demand for rental cars – like Enterprise – was high. Product shipping services such as FedEx became a necessity. Finally, not surprisingly, “Total Wine did very well with its wholesale deals,” says Murdoch.
Naming the platform Spring refers to the idea of helping businesses ‘spring’ to the next level, says Murdoch. And now there are plans for Spring itself to ‘spring’ to a more expanded platform.
Murdoch explains two areas of growth for Spring. The first: increase the categories of deals by offering a wider reach of marketplace products and services. Right now, there are about 140 deals online, with 5-20 added every month, with some dropping out because of seasonality. Murdoch would love one day to see 500-600 deals on the platform.
The other area of expansion is to offer deals within the deal so it can apply to small, medium and large businesses. This way, merchants can scale the right deal for the right business owner.
As Spring considers its next iteration, Murdoch says that “Overall, we keep asking ourselves, ‘How can we do better?’ ‘How can we improve?’ And that’s considering how our sellers and buyers can better interact in the future.