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Free toilet paper startup targets at customer acquisition

COLDSKY.CN – Ever have the plight to poop urgently but without toilet paper? Several startups are trying to profit from the dilemma by offering free tissue from a box that you can unlock with a smartphone.

Liao Yuxing, founder of Yunzhi, or Cloud Paper, said the wall-mounted device now priced at 700 yuan ($110) can discharge a one-meter-long length of toilet paper every time a user scans a QR code. One roll of paper can provide 180 to 270 portions, reported 36kr.com.

He said the operational cost for one device is just 2 yuan and three employees can manage 300 to 1,000 devices, which means a low cost for acquiring new customers, a great challenge for many new companies.

Yunzhi said it has signed contracts to deploy 2,500 devices in scenic areas, schools and other public spaces with dense crowds. The number of dispensers could reach 16,000 by June this year.

The device can also collect data with potential business value, such as the gender, frequency and peak hours so LBS (location-based services) can be effectively promoted towards users. Liao said he intends to fully explore potential profit from the “fragmented time people sit on toilets” through e-commerce, shop recommendations and games.

Both new startups and technical giants are facing the rising cost of persuading new consumers to purchase products and services, from over 100 yuan per online customer on average according to International Financial News to 2,000 yuan to develop a new online lending service user. Free gifts are often used, whether a voucher, a try out or a package of paper, to attract attention and then monetize new customers. This growing cost is also among reasons for online firms to inject more investment in bricks-and-mortar shops, fueling new retail.

Zhilaoshu.cn, established in Shaanxi Province in Oct. 2017, and Dachou Technology in south Xiamen City, also provide the free tissue services if only the user scans a code and also follows the company’s public account on social networking app WeChat.

ZHO, another startup based in Zhongshan City, provides a napkin solution in public space as well as in restaurants. Users can get a free package of napkins a day from the device and then pay for more, while advertisements shown on the device’s LCD screen help support the business model.

Different from Liao’s approach, Shenzhen-based laibaozhi.com profits from both selling napkins and advertising on the floor-type device’s screen. The startup said in three months it has installed 3,000 devices.

(Contact the author ukingsun@qq.com/WeChat:ukingsun)

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