Zeek: Offering an innovative solution in a lucrative industry

First of all, how did the co-founders' entrepreneurial journey begin?

It all started when one of the co-founders, Itay Erel, got married and received an expensive gift. As often happens, he went to the shop, swapped it for a gift voucher, which was promptly folded and put into his wallet. 

Time passed, and with it the expiry date on the voucher, and the money had gone down the drain, as simple as that. After getting upset, he realised that he was probably not the first person to have suffered from this incident, and that it must be a fairly widespread problem that many people face and are forced to deal with. 

Further research has revealed that about 30% of vouchers in the world are not used each year. That amounts to about £65 B, which ends up in the bin. Itay decided to find a solution, and created a marketplace for gift vouchers. 

What is Zeek?

Founded in 2013 by Daniel Zelkind, Itay Erel, Ziv Isaiah and Uri Levine, co-founder of Waze, Zeek is an app that makes it easy for vouchers and gift cards to change hands. Sellers put their unwanted vouchers up for sale, and buyers find vouchers to their favourite stores for significantly discounted prices.  

The app, supported by both Android and iPhone, utilises a unique API that converts all types of physical gift vouchers into digital versions, which instantly also become valid in the relevant stores. 

Zeek was founded in Israel, when did you launch in the UK?

Almost two months ago. 

The business model?

The Business model is based on charging commission from sellers/ retailers. We are a gift voucher marketplace that enables selling unwanted gift cards, store vouchers or store credit for cash, the process is very simple:

1. Log on

2. Fill in gift voucher details.

3. Photograph the voucher.

4. Select a discount percentage for the voucher and post it for sale.

Once the voucher is sold, the seller gets notified and paid via wire transfer or PayPal.

What’s the USP?

Centralise: We help our users keep track of their store credit. By utilising the smartphone, users will receive notifications on validity as well as their proximity to retailers.

Digitise: Joining the digital revolution in retail, we are now able to eliminate the need for physical forms of store credit, thus creating a highly scalable marketplace for C2C transactions.

Commodities: We create a community for savvy shoppers. On the one hand, people looking to cash-in on their unused vouchers and on the other hand those who prioritise cash in hand rather than goods.

Why do you think there’s been such a boom in the gift card industry?

New technologies and services are being offered to retailers that are enhancing the customer experience. More than half of the UK’s retailers, both on and off the high street, offer a gift voucher service and recent statistics have proved that this is a massive market for retailers - it’s worth £5bn here in the UK.  It’s becoming a stress free way for consumers to buy products and services.

What impact has Zeek had on the British high-street?

Considering that 50% of gift vouchers are often left unredeemed, Zeek has positioned itself as a solution to preventing gift cards from being wasted in future. 5% of the global non-grocery retail market is derived from store credit.

This translates to a $305b industry that restricts consumers to buying only one shop, without the freedom of choice. The result is huge unnecessary waste-30% of store credit ends up unused for various reasons, meaning that $100B is lost annually, predominantly in Europe. 

What are your predictions for the market in 2015?

We will have 1 million users by the end of 2015 and a further three international offices. Developments in technology will also continue to change the high street:

  • The rise of the Digital Wallet (how consumers are shifting to purchases by mobile)
  • How the digital wallet and mobile retailing is enhanced by digital gift vouchers
  • How can we help grow the gift voucher marketplace by utilising the mobile platforms

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