Close look at Mallicious, a newly launched deal site

Mallicious LogoMallicious is a new project by Scott Aikin, the entrepreneur I interviewed back in May who also runs a popular portal Hawkee for web developers to exchange code snippets. Mallicious has been in testing for some time but the official launch was just announced earlier this week.

From the first glance, Mallicious looks like a deal aggregator similar to Boddit or Roosster, however a closer look reveals social functionality that put its in the same niche as these other social deal sites.

Back in May Scott already dipped his toes into social shopping niche when he plugged in a price comparison engine into Hawkee. Back then the social part didn’t go far beyond the ability to see what products your friends recommend or wish to buy. Also, I have a feeling that Hawkee developer community wasn’t really a good fit for the shopping portal so this time around Scott seems to be building on the old idea and expands it by launching under entirely new name.

How different is it compared to other deal sites? Does it have a chance to survive? Let’s have a closer look at Mallicious.

Deals and real deals

Mallicious is flooded with products. These come from feeds merchants provide daily. In the sense these are not really deals but rather what marketing department at these companies want to present as such. The true bargain hunter’s goal is to separate real deals from the noise. This is not a simple task and while I don’t deny that some day an algorithm will be implemented that does just that, right now this job is best done by human bargains hunters.

Despite all said, Mallicious provides some interesting tools for picking those gems out of the sheer variety of products. One of them is Price Drops which is ironically the last item in the menu. In theory Price Drops allows you to pick bargains by sorting products by the amount of price drop from regular to sale price. Sounds good however merchants often inflate the original price to make the sale price look better which renders bargain hunting based solely on Price Drop useless.

Mallicious Screenshot

Friends help friends find deals

Here is how it works on Mallicious. Registered users “pick” deals in essence voting for them. Deals that get most “picks” get to the “Top Deals” list. This is very similar to how other social sites work and is only useful if there are actually people behind who routinely pick deals. Unfortunately the common problem is the lack of support for this model to survive. Shopping deal sites have very narrow niche and building a devoted user base takes time and effort.

Modoshi has attempted to tackle this problem differently but ran out of steam too soon. For the most part, with deal sites only those sites that established themselves a while ago (check this list) can claim a large enough community to really make use of social functionality.

Riding the social wave

One thing Scott did right from the start is integration of Facebook API into the overall design. This should in theory widen the user base and get things started faster. It is very hard for me to judge however I tend to believe that social networks are a very unpredictable type. Here is an interesting study which suggests that to become popular on Facebook you really need to hit the jackpot as to providing whatever functionality is hot with the network community.

…of the more than 5,000 Facebook apps available today, only 84 account for nearly 90 percent of all the usage. Of those, only about half boast more than 100,000 active users, and only three have more than one million active users

I did a quick search of deal & coupon related applications on Facebook and the only one that stood out was Coupons by DealsPlus (135 daily active users). None of the rest had more than 20 users, and majority had less than 5.

Will Mallicious be successful

I clearly see a niche for Mallicious. It is so to say an advanced price comparison website with some bargain hunting functionality. One thing I would like to have added is price history charts for individual products or categories of similar products. As far as the social part goes, I really have doubts it picks up and becomes a useful part of Mallicious anytime soon. What do you think?

See also: Official press release (via PrWeb)

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6 Responses to “Close look at Mallicious, a newly launched deal site”

  1. 1 Scott Nov 29th, 2007 at 10:57 pm

    Thank you for the review Yan! The price drops are actually based on the previous prices, not the retail prices given by the merchants. So if a product was $10 yesterday and now it’s $5 today, that’s a 50% price drop. I agree that the retail prices given by merchants are useless and we certainly don’t use that information.

  2. 2 Daniel Nov 30th, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    Hi Yan,

    You have mentioned that this site provides Price Comparison –“ It is so to say an advanced price comparison website with some bargain hunting functionality” I don’t see a Price Comparison functionality there. Can you please clarify what you mean?

    Daniel D.

  3. 3 Yan Nov 30th, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    Select Electronics in the leftside bar, Digital Cameras in the menu on top, scroll down. Can you see point-n-shoot cameras? Is there a “Compare (N) prices” link below some of the camera images?

    As far as I understand, you will see that link whenever the application engine detects that the product is offered by more than one merchant, which is exactly how price comparison sites work.

  4. 4 Scott Dec 1st, 2007 at 5:28 am

    I have to say that Mallicious probably has the *best* Facebook social-deal app out there (and I am saying this as someone who has also coded a Facebook front-end for a social-deal site)!

    Dealplus might have 100 active users, but their Facebook app is no where near the sophistication of Mallicious’.

    (This is Scott from Australia, not Scott from Mallicious :)

  5. 5 Yan Dec 1st, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    I agree, Scott. Mallicious application looks pretty sophisticated. If only this also meant wide adoption. Sometimes simplicity works wonders. Think about how Google was able to beat Yahoo

  6. 6 Scott Dec 2nd, 2007 at 9:15 pm

    Thank you for your feedback Scott, I definitely appreciate it. We’ve tried to make the site as simple as possible while providing advanced features for power users. We’ve got some big plans for the site and will be improving it substantially over the coming months.

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