Two years after its launch, Groupon made history by becoming one of the fastest growing startups of all time. Now, the company’s attempt to go public has brought its overall value to as high as $30 billion.
If you’re considering jumping into the daily deal/group buying arena, chances are you won’t be able to compete with market leaders like Groupon and Living Social—but that doesn’t mean you can’t start a lucrative business of your own with the right technology and marketing.
Take a look at some of the tips below to learn how to start your own daily deals site.
1. Find the right software to get your site up and running.
To get your site started on the right track, it’s important to figure out which software offers you the right tools to get the job done. For instance, if you’re a little handier with technology and want to use a popular open source product, you can find WordPress themes that are specifically tailored to daily deals sites like this one.
If you’re a little less technologically inclined and want all of the tools you need right at your fingertips, take a look at some prebuilt daily deal software packages like Deal Current, Deal Co-op, Dealicio and DailyDealWorks.
Your third option (and my favorite) is to get started with an ecommerce package that offers built-in “daily deal” and “group deal” features. For $19.99/month, you can have this functionality out-of-the-box, as well as hosting, templates and domain, with an ecommerce provider like 3DCart.
2. Offer plenty of ways to pay.
Since a lot of online shoppers are wary of fraud and identity theft, it’s always a good idea to include several different ways for customers to pay for their coupons. Popular portals like PayPal, Amazon Payments and Google Checkout make for great secondary options when your customer is ready to checkout. You can offer several gateways (and have access to built-in tools for group buying and daily deals) by choosing the right ecommerce software provider.
3. Start locally.
You’re not going to tackle the world in your first year. Take it slow as you get started building your brand; you’ll have to pitch interested businesses and manage multiple campaigns—which gets a little tricky if you plan on employing a small staff (or running the site entirely on your own).
The best way to get the ball rolling is to start pitching local businesses and ramp up from there. Consider playing in a market that isn’t already dominated by Groupon so you can compete more easily.
4. Offer a better pricing model than the major players.
If you’ve done your research, you’ve probably figured out that sites like Groupon charge as much as 50 percent of the total sales just to attach their name to your campaign. Plenty of smaller businesses out there aren’t willing to take that kind of hit just to get a little exposure, and your business can certainly make a profit charging a smaller percentage fee.
A service like Chompon only charges its users 15 percent of gross revenues for publishing their daily deals—a steal to most businesses that have looked into Groupon and found it too expensive.
5. Find the right channels to promote your deals.
Finally, because you won’t have the immediate brand power of Groupon, you’re going to have to find unique ways to promote your brand. Social media is an easy way to help deals go viral, for instance. You might want to promote group deals by generating a list of online shopping bloggers and coupon sites to pitch your deals to on a daily basis. And, like Groupon, it’s good to set up an email or RSS feed for shoppers that have discovered your brand and want to get daily updates on deals.
About the Author
Jimmy Rodriguez is CTO and co-founder of 3DCart, developer of an alte-commerce suite for businesses of all sizes. As an authority on e-commerce best practices, Jimmy combines more than 8 years as an e-commerce developer and web programmer with SEO, social marketing and business intelligence. You can follow jimmy via twitter at @jimmy3dcart
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