Vitel and Shopping Sherlock merge. Products?
Shopping Sherlock had an app that provides discounts to third-party products and services, and Vitel up until recently exclusively offered third-party products and services through its network.
A few months ago Vitel introduced what they call the ViSocial, a $69.95 a month “social marketing platform” that doesn’t appear to have generated any significant interest.
That said, at least it was a solid attempt at finally offering an actual product within the company itself, as opposed to other company’s product and services.
Shopping Sherlock on the other hand continue to lead with their free app that provides access to third-party offers.
With that in mind, I can wholly see the commonality between the two companies that would be ideal for a merge. And that’s exactly what Shopping Sherlock and Vitel have done.
I read about the news over at MLM Helpdesk this morning and, apart from making the official merger announcement, the press release also revealed some interesting insight into the businesses.
Perhaps not so surprising given the nature of the business, was mention from Vitel’s CEO Scott Rogers that
It has always been our goal to provide the best possible opportunity for the Vitel Wireless independent business owners and their families and we have realized that the Vitel executive team had taken Vitel as far as it could.
In order to secure the future growth of the business owners and their families we had to make a tough decision to step back in order to let them grow.
Reading between the lines, Rogers is pretty much admitting that the Vitel as an MLM opportunity had become stagnant. I suspect this would be primarily due to the lacklustre adoption of their social network, which was launched on the belief it was reinvigorate the business.
As per the press release, it appears Shopping Sherlock have absorbed Vitel, however whether or not Vitel will cease to exist as an independent company was not clarified. Shopping Sherlock CEO Michael Wiedder’s comment about the company ‘adding (Vitel’s) product mix to our vendor relationships’ certainly seems to indicate it won’t.
From an analysis viewpoint, it has to be noted that Shopping Sherlock itself is the re-imagining of an already failed MLM concept, MyShoppingGenie.
MyShoppingGenie tried the free discount app model for years before eventually collapsing. Shopping Sherlock seems to be making a better go of it however even with the introduction of a mobile app version of the tool, the core problems of MyShoppingGenie remain.
As I see it this merge will probably generate a bit of new interest in both companies however it doesn’t really address the core problems of either. Shopping Sherlock is still probably going to remain a company full of affiliates with little to no end-users of the app and Vitel’s social network is unlikely to take off just because it’s now offered under the Shopping Sherlock umbrella.
Furthermore the addition of Vitel’s vendor partnerships to Shopping Sherlock is unlikely to boost usage of the app, as indicated by the lack of overall interest in and growth of the Vitel opportunity by Scott Rogers comments above.
My prediction is that we’re just putting off the inevitable but we’ll still watch how this partnership plays out. As the grandaddy of the discount deal app concept, Shopping Sherlock collapsing would be the second confirmation that the model doesn’t work.
Something that all the app-based MLM companies that have recently popped up might want to take note of.
Update 4th September 2013 – Looks like Vitel as a standalone company is no more. As of sometime in the past week the Vitel website has been taken down with the domain “vitelwireless.com” asking visitors to visit Shopping Sherlock instead.
My thanks to the BehindMLM reader who sent in the heads up.