Group buying and discount cards brought about a revolution in the way people shop online. It was considered to be the next big thing in the web after facebook and twitter. Every other business organization may it be banks or Salon’s, mobile phones or Airlines every one tried to cash on on the so called new revolution. Then there were group buyers whose business model was to nudge customers to those products and services that offered hefty discounts. From SoSasta (of Groupon) to Jasper/ Moneysaverprime/Snapdeal (all part of a single business group) and mydala (funded by naukri.com), Dealface (promoted by consumer review site MouthShut.com and the global Groupon- the choice list was long.
All these sites had backing from private players and venture capitalists. Due to this what ever profit was earned in the transactions was never a concern. Today, the price of a book purchased through these online stores is usually less than the cost of the fancy packaging and courier charges. But, hardly had the business begun to stabilise and that there are complaint s against these sites by many users. The complaints are seeping through the cracks.
Th problem with these sites have now become a buzz on Microblogging site like twitter. Till three months ago, Jasper was working overtime to woo corporate customers with bulk deals on its MoneySaver card. But now all of a sudden the company has stopped issuing MoneySaver cards. The group has also stopped offering coupons and has widened its scope beyond the e-commerce site www.snapdeal.com that offers the biggest deals on spas, salons and restaurants.
Group buying and discount cards exist around the world and it could well be that the business in India is facing teething troubles and will stabilise. But until it does, customers must learn to treat the offerings like a lottery-if the offer works it is money saved. Otherwise, wait for the next one that comes along. It doesn’t really matter so long as you don’t make the mistake of forking out an annual fee for a standalone service that may not be standing anymore!