Tag Archives: Groupon

Why Foursquare is better for Local Businesses than Groupon

While Groupon has redefined local business and is in news for its fastest billion dollar revenue + its $700 Mn IPO, from a long term perspective I think Foursquare is a far better bet than Groupon.

Some of the many criticisms of Groupon

  • Socially unconnected users
  • Concerns on validity of Business Model, just 3 years and now a IPO
  • Merchant side issues – 75% discount on products
  • Not much metrics available for merchants, no user contact information
  • Are new consumers acquired or are they deal seekers only
  • No technology barrier, 100s of Groupon clones have hit across the Globe
  • Though not many players are as large as Groupon, LivingSocial; Merchants have a choice
  • Intensive feet on street business with huge sales force.
  • Groupon Now – merchants are able to create own deals through Groupon

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Take case of Foursquare – they could possibly over throw Groupon.

My contention is that any platform and service that can empower merchants to run business and acquire consumers (new/repeat) will be able to overthrow Groupon in long run. While Groupon clearly demonstrates that local deals work, Foursquare has the technology & product to take it to the next level and give a tough competition to Groupon where it hurts most – at supply side (Merchants or Local Business Owners).

The biggest ‘cry’ we hear against Groupon is merchants complaining – its only the existing customers who use Groupon coupons for deals, and new consumers are not acquired/retained.

On the other hand, Foursquare –

  • As a product, consumers checkin at all locations and businesses (small, local & large)
  • Foursquare need to move beyond check-ins for two reasons
    > In sometime real consumers (not technology savvy early adopters) will not find value in badges & points.
    > Foursquare will need to have a monetization model that works!

Foursquare has valuable insights about users for the merchants – people who have checked in. They just need to quickly enable self-serve platform for business owners with a global sales footprint.

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Foursquare can just topple off Groupon and with its solution for merchants that covers every pain they have with Daily Deals services like Groupon, Living Social and 1000 others only for one reason – Business owners know who are new/repeat customers

  • They can enable deals for individually and for specific type of customers
    > Consumers who check-in for first time
    > Repeat & Regular customers
    > Consumers who have not checked-in since last 30 days
  • Decide what deal goes live when based on user interest, inventory available, and so on

More than that, they can –

  • Decide how much discount they should offer. To whom.
  • Take private feedbacks from customers on service
  • Push deals to customers on special occasions like birthdays & more
  • Pass on details about business Facebook & Twitter presence to customers – so that they can stay connected.
  • Analytics – who checks in, cost of acquisition of new customers, competition overview in same location

And most importantly – Foursquare should give ability to businesses to generate coupons, pass on to consumers in vicinity or existing customers which users can redeem immediately.

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In short – daily deals websites exploits local merchants. Foursquare can empower them!

The pitfall – Foursquare does not have a global sales footprint to enable this. Though technology savvy merchants back in US might adopt it, the business would scale when 1000s of merchants across the world are able to enable it. But again, thanks to the 8 Mn+ users – Foursquare already knows which businesses are popular and when they should start.

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If I had a million dollars and choice to invest in Groupon or Foursquare – i would surely bet on Foursquare!

My Prediction – Groupon or some player who has intention to venture big in local deals space will eventually acquire Foursquare or a majority stake.

Social Buying: Attack of Clones & Indian Market

Group Buying in India: Attack of the Clones

Happy, Merry and Cheerful on success of Groupon. Social shopping was the way forward, most of them spoke of this since mid-2007; however the way Groupon solved the puzzle, no doubt earns them a success.

Came across Andrew Mason’s take on Groupon Clones on TechCrunch and through links stumbled upon Sanjay Mehta’s review on one of the India offerings – Wanamo that incidentally was also one of Groupon clones. An interesting discussion between Sanjay and Wanamo’s founder follows the review.

So back to my crunching game – how large can Social Commerce or Group Buying become in India. What potential lies in it?

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Current Scenario:

Market Stage: Chicken or Egg? Still nascent stage, but already crowded – too many chickens and too any eggs.

The Players: Snapdeal, Wanamo, Mydala, Mobstreet, Grabbon, Koovs, Group2Deal, and others I haven’t noticed yet.

First Thoughts: Star Wars – II. Attack of the Clones (or Cousins). Incidently one look at all of them, and you see all design elements, features and placements are similar with each other and with Groupon. A few of them actually ripoffs.

What would differentiate: Quality of deals, execution of ideas & ability to innovate this space.

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Group Buying: What is the market size in India??

Known group buying websites in India: 7, Estimated: 10
Average Transaction Size offered:  Rs. 500 (80% of them are under Rs.400)
Average Successful Coupons sold: 50 (as claimed)
Current Cities Catered: 4 (Top Metros only)

Total Market Size: 10,00,000 INR per day = 1 Million INR per day
Thats a kewl: 365 Million INR per year or 7.3 Million USD per year

These numbers are assuming that all ten Group Buying services see 50 Transations per day in all 4 Metros. This is were the analysis starts…

Will this model be successful in India… NO (Not till the point attack of clones continue)

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Why Groupon succeeds and has potential to grow:

  1. Original concept & product. First mover advantage.. and its huge!
  2. Groupon has plans to move to 100+ cities across world
  3. Groupon sells about 200 to 2000 coupons per day from $10 to $125 in each city
  4. They are already in 45+ cities as of today

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What Group Buying services in India need to re-think upon & probably revise their business strategy:

  1. It worked in US, it will work in India too approach
  2. The front end UI has been adapted/copied. Hopefully some player has built a robust backend too.
  3. India does not have 100 (or even 20+) highly penetrated ‘Internet’ cities. It would pinch beyond the IPL cities (Cities with representations in Indian Premiere League – IPL Cricket) on both sides.. Consumers & Partners.
  4. Most rely on Social Media for marketing & buzz. Good.. but Social Media is notoriously known for buzz and communication, and not conversions. However for Group Buying deals – this might just work if the deal fits right.
  5. Most deals in US are for Food, Spa, Coffeshops. Unlike US, in India we have choices not just in restaurants but also cuisines… Punjabi, Mughlai, Goan, Chinese, Indian Chinese, South Indian, Goan, and so on. Deals, typically on food & restaurants need to be much wider to appeal to wider audience.
  6. India.. We still don’t know how many users we have (Claimed 50 Million Internet Users)
  7. Others concerns – Internet Transactions, Security, Credit Card Penetration. But for the kind of audience they choose.. this might not be significant issue. But would be when they expand to more cities.
  8. Indians by culture and by nature love to bargain by themselves! And take pleasure in doing that :-)
  9. We love to choose – don’t we? One deal per day might not fit our appetite.
  10. Cricket & Bollywood; Cricket & Bollywood; Cricket & Bollywood
  11. You are not alone to solve these problem.. at this early stage itself you have huge competition!

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Ending Remarks:

So now that you have started, get started on the execution. Few cues to work for this model in India are:
Multiple Deals in a City, Payment Options, Alternate Revenue Channels like Advertorials & Advertising, Go beyond Internet… (Mobile) and much more.

Innovation and adapting to Indian market will hold the key for Group Buying services. And they need to execute that fast, as many deep pocketed services that are remotely and closely associated to related domain (like city event trackers, and hotel review sites… & you know who else?) will find it much easier to replicate this business model overnight.

A clone will be clone… so Innovate & Differentiate :-)