Friday, 18 March 2011

Group buying sites - yay or nay?

I've been hearing about group buying site Groupon and the group buying concept for months (even the ones in China, which predates the Western sites) before I had any idea that anyone's doing the same thing here. Whatever you want to call it: Deal-of-the-day or group buying, the craze has hit hard in Malaysia, especially the Klang Valley because it's commonly believed that people in the Klang Valley have more money, hence got more disposable income to blow on these things :P
Groupon logo.Image via WikipediaUnlike the US counterparts, most of the deals here go on for at least a few days so that people would have time to get in on the action to buy the vouchers for themselves, friends and family. That, and we've only got less than 10 million people in the Valley, so chances of a deal getting sold out really quick is not likely.

Payment options are also pretty abundant and easy for you to part with your money - from online banking (via your bank's internet banking portal), credit cards, offline cash deposit (for people who don't have credit cards or internet banking) and also Paypal (woo hoo).

A quick poke around Google also yielded that it only costs $400 to buy a script for group buying sites - which you can recoup easily enough if your deals are any good. This kind of explains why all the sites look so damn similar. 

I got to know some of the first local group buying sites from cold-call emails, asking me to check them out. The rest I got to know from all over the Internet, particularly the Facebook ads (which I admit to clicking). Fortunately I haven't been getting a lot more of these emails recently, as there are plenty of them now from this blog post (who knew there were so many more - holy cow!). 

As far as the deals go, most of them I could do without, but I still stalk the sites regularly in case they had a deal that I finally want in on and I'm on several email lists. If you look at enough of them, you'd see some of the same businesses advertising the same deal on different sites. 

As far as my buying habits go - I won't buy vouchers that I'd have to travel too far to redeem, but I'd buy vouchers for things/places I've been wanting to try (that's not too far), and also cheaper wax sessions, because let's face it, it's not cheap to look good, even decent :P

I've bought vouchers from several sites over the last few months and I've had okay experiences when purchasing and I've not had a bad experience redeeming them at the respective outlets. The actual product or service however, is another matter. If you want me to try buying and redeeming from the rest, you'd have to reimburse me :P Makes me wonder how much repeat business the retail outlets get post-deal. 

What I'm a little annoyed with is that these sites don't have a freaking RSS feed, which makes it a little tiresome to check sites out everyday and there are only so many emails that I can glance at and delete. Even when I check into these sites from the same place each day, I get bugged with the prompt to enter email address to subscribe to their site updates. Oh, and the Facebook Connect thing - I know it's a convenience thing so that you're not stuck with remembering multiple login details, but seriously, Facebook already has its privacy problems.

I know I sound really sarcastic about the concept, but as a consumer, I like it because no one wants to buy something at retail price if you can get it for cheaper.

Go, group buying sites.