Groupon say they’re now a “True Marketplace”
Groupon want to become a marketplace and have revamped their site in an attempt to compete with the likes of eBay and Amazon.
This is an interesting one because, whichever way you cut it, Groupon is not a marketplace. It’s a deals site trying to reinvent itself and so the only products and services you’d expect to find are cut price offers. The only way that they can hold a vast amount of inventory is if the deals are long term… and in that case it’s hardly a “Deal”, it’s just the price.
So what have Groupon done to become more marketplace like – well firstly they’ve added a prominent search box at the top of the page, with type-ahead suggestions that allow customers to easily find the type of deal they’re looking for. Next they’ve added deal collections – curated collections of deals based on moments in time, like Christmas aiming to provide doorways into different areas of Groupon’s massive inventory of deals.
eBay are pretty keen on curated collection at the moment and whilst I do like the eBay Feed I’m afraid that their curated collections leave me cold. The curators in the main have nothing for sale and with the exception of the fashion category where a designer or blogger may gain followers, little that makes me want to browse them.
Perhaps Groupon will be able to do better and do what eBay hasn’t yet done which is when I make a purchase show me collections that encourage me to make complimentary products.
Groupon have also upgraded their mobile apps for Android and iPhone and they now include a tab to allow buyers to see deals in their area.
“In the four years since Groupon launched in the UK, the number and variety of deals have grown rapidly,” according to Tamer Tamar, Senior Vice President, Groupon EMEA. “Groupon UK has added thousands of new deals across local, product and travel in the last year alone. Our new site and mobile apps mean you can quickly find exactly what you want to do or buy, anytime, anywhere“.
I thought I’d give the self styled “True online marketplace” a go and searched on Groupon for a Greenhouse. They couldn’t find anyone to sell me a greenhouse so offered me 100 paintballs for £2.50 instead! I tried “Green House” and this time they offered me a personalised House Sign.
I think Groupon have a way to go before they can truly be called a “marketplace”.
This seems the latest in established sites re-working their propositions, each of which seems to a slightly desperate attempt to close ground on the market leaders of eBay and Amazon.
With Play morphing into Rakuten, Etsy now selling mass produced new products, eBid almost forgotten, and Groupon trying to widen its appeal, where are both the customers and retailers going to come from ?
The barriers to entry into the upper pantheon of sales sites have never been higher, whilst traders are reluctant to commit resources to developing sales on these minor sites, and many customers have never even heard of them or at least not bothered to experience them. Internet retailing is fundamentally a mature market now, dominated by market leaders.
It seems that despite most traders wishing for some diversity in sales venues that the effort required to make a success of these challengers is such that it is virtually doomed to failure. We may find ourselves trapped in the known universe of eBay and Amazon, warts and all, whilst knowing the threat they represent to our individual business models every single day, and largely just hoping for the best, whilst failing to plan for the worst.
My answer, such as it is, has been and will continue to be to move my products up the price range somewhat (more profitable per sale) and drive business through to my own website as much as practical (more control, our own customers). Instead of spending effort on trying to cope with minor challenger sites, I feel effort put into SEO, own website design, and smarter product selection will be better rewarding in the long term.