UForce 411

Haven’t signed up yet? Just logged in and you’re not sure what to do next? Over the next few weeks we will post some quick tips about how to use UForce to your advantage. First up is:

Creating a Mission

One of the most important parts of UForce is that you, the consumer, can more or less invent your own deals. How? You create a mission.

Log in to www.theuforce.com. (Of course, if you have yet to sign up for the service, enlist first. All we’ll need is your name, email, zip code and age.) After doing so, you’ll be immediately directed to your own personal “My MarketPlace” page.

From there, you’ll see a bubble, “Create a New Mission.” Click it. Up will pop a new page with a search bar, where you can literally type in anything you want a deal for.

my mission

As you can see, I typed in “Travel to California” and pressed search. Immediately, I was shown that there already was a mission for discounted travel to the great western state – and all I had to do was join. Easy as that!

Now, let’s see what happens when UForce does not yet have a deal on something you want – and you thus need to create a mission of your own.

Go straight to the drop down bars you’ll see on the Create a New Mission page. I have a lot of friends getting engaged, so I’m in need of gifts to give them in the next month. As you’ll see below, I chose a main category “Floral/Gifts” for another subcategory “Engagement,” a desired price point– $25 to $35—and a desired time period that I’d like to receive a deal by (1 Month).

Next, all I do is hit the big, red, Create a Mission button.

Voila! A small screen will pop up congratulating you on your mission, which you can in turn share with friends on twitter, facebook or other media channels. Then, you can also choose to go on to Mission Command, where you can check up on the mission you just created.

Now, you can see that my mission is created and there’s currently one person—me—in the pool.

Simple, isn’t it? Stay tuned for more helpful UForce training tips!

Cell phones and Smartphones and BlueTooths — Oh my!

It’s almost back-to-school time. Do you have your toys to start the year right? UForce is offering some amazing deals on Cell phones, Smartphones, BlueTooth headsets, and more – now through August 20, 2010.

So, if you’re a current UForce member, or you’d like to join, check out these deals via our partner Wirefly:

Motorola Backflip, plus a free BlueTooth Headset, starting at $0.00 – or, as they say, free.

This is AT&T’s first Android smartphone.

Other deals include:

HTC Aria – the smallest Android phone on the market, free when opening an AT&T account via UForce.

DROID by Motorola –you know the commercials, love the product. Free when opening an AT&T account via UForce.

BlackBerry Smartphones—the fastest, thinnest BlackBerry on the market. Free when opening a new account with Sprint via UForce.

Nokia Nuron 5230—with a touchscreen, GPS and other media, this one is a steal. Free when opening a new T-Mobile account via UForce.

LG Sentio—3G speed, and fully customizable, this smartphone is free when opening a new T-Mobile account via UForce.

Think Up with UForce

Now that you’ve joined UForce –or, are at least intrigued enough to visit our blog—start checking out the amazing unique deals we offer.

Now through the end of July, Lenovo is giving UForce members 5% off their (already low) prices on a ThinkPad laptop. If you’re not familiar with the Lenovo you should be; it’s the fourth largest computer manufacturer in the world, and one whose products are consistently well-rated and affordable. In Chinese, the word means “connected thinking” which, naturally, is a great mode of thought/policy for all those invested and interested in theuforce.com.

So, right now, log on to your UForce page and get a ThinkPad for only $544.00 – a pretty incredible price, if we do say so ourselves.

Tuangou in Translation

Here’s a recent article by Denise Logeland of Twin Cities Business. She talked to UForce CEO Andrew Atkin about theuforce.com and new initiatives, like a partnership with Augeo Affinity Marketing. Check it out:

Tuangou in Translation By Denise Logeland

UForce Americanizes China’s Big Shopping Trend

Haggling for a better price: as old as commerce itself.

Web sites that aggregate consumers so they can command volume discounts from sellers: a dot-com era trial balloon (mobshop.com, mercata.com, and others) that popped when most business models proved unsustainable.

Tuangou: “group shopping” as the Chinese do it in growing numbers. Consumers with similar wants find each other on line, then meet up in person (sometimes by the hundreds), appoint a leader, and negotiate face-to-face on the spot with a seller.

UForce, Inc.: Andrew Atkin’s new Edina company that seeks to “Americanize” tuangou by putting the whole process on line.

In the decade since the dot-com years, smart phones, mobile apps, and social media have all primed consumers for a shopping experience like UForce, Atkin says. He adds that UForce transcends the limitations of competitors like Chicago-based Groupon. Groupon tries to anticipate what members will want and selects a specific item to offer at a discount each day. By contrast, UForce (theuforce.com) invites members to define a shopping “mission”—an item they want to negotiate for—then allows other UForce members to join that mission. The site can aggregate similar missions and enables sellers to negotiate a blanket deal with all of those prospective buyers.

UForce launched in April and planned to relaunch with an improved site in June. Atkin says he’s recruited 120 sellers as of late May, in categories including automotive services, home maintenance, education, and fitness. Sellers pay nothing to be on the site, but they share a varying percentage of each sale with UForce.

Buyers also pay nothing to be member-users of the site. Atkin claims several million members in late May, many by virtue of relationships that UForce has formed with universities, charitable groups, and labor unions, though Atkin says confidentiality agreements prevent him from naming these. His company gained some of those relationships by partnering with St. Paul–based Augeo Affinity Marketing. UForce shares revenue with affiliate groups whenever one of their members makes a purchase.

Tuangou’s rise in China is attributed to a general lack of price transparency there: It’s hard to do comparison shopping when a clear retail price isn’t stated up front. Similarly, Andrew Atkin says UForce is recruiting sellers in categories like insurance and professional training, where there’s “opaqueness” in pricing.

“Why do we do this? — We have no choice.”

We shop every day of our lives. What do we need? Food.  Toliet paper. Someone to mow our lawn. Someone to tutor our kids. Transportation. Somewhere to work out. Buying, or at least the planning of buying and its execution, takes up a large chunk of our day.

And because retailers and manufacturers sometimes offer incentives to make this act of buying a little easier on the wallet, we all go crazy. We get up at crazy hours, stand in crazy lines, and do crazy things like push, shove, and yell.

UForce CEO Andrew Atkin in this recent Pioneer Press article says, “Why do we do this?” — “We have no choice.”

Obviously, UForce is trying to change that fact. Beyond group buying, what other choices do we have?

Crazy Shopping Story #2

Again, at UForce we can’t stress enough how special sales, door-buster deals and things of that nature are harmful to consumers. By allowing manufacturers and retailers decide when, what, and how many deals go down, we the consumer are deprived of a fair say in the marketplace.

Here’s our Crazy Shopping Story of the week:

Manufacturers like UForce, too.

It’s pretty easy to see why UForce is great for consumers, who rally together and create missions to get great deals and discounts on goods.

However, it’s also safe to say that a site like UForce is great for manufacturers and retailers.  Here are only a couple reasons why:

  1. With UForce, money that is usually allocated to marketing and advertising – think “Macy’s Semi-Annual Sale” or various once-a-year shopping holidays – is simply unnecessary. By becoming a provider on a site like UForce, all a manufacturer or retailer needs to do is make their presence known by offering deals to UForce consumers. Thus, thousands – even millions — of dollars saved, all while a retailer or manufacturer sells BIG.
  2. Perhaps more importantly, with UForce a retailer or manufacturer has the ability to communicate with consumers across an enormous range of geographic regions and lifestyles – people who wouldn’t necessarily come into their store, see their commercials or typically consider their goods and/or services.

Can you think of other ways group buying systems like UForce helps both consumers and manufacturers? The list only continues to grow.