Cloning A Clone

Nov 18, 2013

Back in the day when deal sites were all the rage and Andrew Mason was still CEO of Groupon he would talk about "clones" all the time. Clones being competitors. It seemed he used the term in a derogatory manner that always struck me as odd.

In every large fast growing market I have been in, Internet service, email security, social media analytics, and online deals, the market is flooded with competitors. It's flooded with competitors that are pretty much the same sans positioning. It's the execution that wins.

Regardless Groupon is making some interesting moves. Groupon has changed it strategy of sending out daily emails for short-term running offers to building an e-commerce marketplace of longer-running deals that can be searched for on its website. This is a powerful move with great operating leverage. It is actually this exact same model that attracted me to Half Off Depot back in 2011. It was Half Off Depot's model. And it works.

Groupon's most recent move is to ungate it's website. To allow visitors to see the products it is selling without inputting an email address. Another smart move and one that Half Off Depot implemented shortly after my arrival in 2011.

As Charles Caleb Colton once said "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."  I'll just leave it at that.

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Posted in Deals, E-Commerce, Half Off Depot, nCrowd

Where You End

Aug 13, 2013

So after my somewhat gushing Groupon earnings call summary, here's the other side of the coin. One of the things that CEO Eric Lefkofsky said during the call, and it has become a major talking point since, is that Groupon wants to become the first place shoppers turn to when they "want to buy anything, anywhere, any time."

They have a long way to go. 

The first place I turn is Amazon. The second place is eBay. The third is a speciality store such as Apple, B&H, Nike, Tennis Express and the like. Groupon not so much. The fulfillment experience is lacking.

But this is perhaps more interesting. The place that I check last is Google. And what I do is search on the product name and the word coupon. My daughter told me to do so about three years ago when she was twelve. Seems that all the kids are doing it. An ingrained habit.

And more often than not I end up on RetailMeNot. Nearly every time I buy something on the Internet. Because of this behavior RetailMeNot is hot. They went public about a month ago (SALE) and the stock is up about 20% since then.

Where you end might be more important than where you start. And both of those behaviors seem a little cemented to me.

Disclosure: nCrowd, Inc. has an affiliate relationship with RetailMeNot, Inc.

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Posted in Deals, E-Commerce, Stocks

Groupon's Q2 Earnings Notes

Aug 09, 2013

On Wednesday Groupon (GRPN) announced their second quarter earnings. The stock market reacted quite favorably sending the stock up 22% in a single day. That is quite the dramatic recovery for a company with a pretty solid record of missteps with the financial community. This is why the stock is moving. 

Groupon's stock is now up 126% YTD and almost 400% since it's low last fall. The company's market capitalization now stands at over $7 billion putting all those "you should have taken the $6 billion from Google" stories to bed for a while.

I expect Groupon to continue to show strong results in the second half of the year. It also seems to me that might be setting up to jettison their EMEA business into which they expanded to quickly.

Groupon is the big battleship in the huge local ecommerce ocean. And a rising tide lifts all boats. What is good for Groupon is good for nCrowd.

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Posted in Deals, E-Commerce, nCrowd, Stocks

Is Social Media Failing Retailers?

Jul 26, 2013

L2 Think Tank recently released a study focused on speciality retail. eMarketer published some information from the study including the chart below, that shows social media is not really have that big an impact on ecommerce sales. 

Website Traffic From Social Networks

This social referral result is from speciality retailers with a 90% use rate on  Facebook, Insta, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube and the like. Which lead to the question "are online retailers wasting their time on social media?

I don't think so. They are just not doing it right. At nCrowd our directly attributable social conversions are apporaching the referral traffic noted in the report. Of course that means our referral rate is much higher. My only conclusion is that the retailers in the study are not wasting their time investing on social. They have just not tuned the dials to see stronger results yet. They will, and over time the ecommerce traffic from social will rise toward its share of overall Internet use.

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Posted in E-Commerce, Marketing, Social

Growing Consumer Mobile Coupon Interest

Jun 05, 2013

Interesting new report out by comScore and UPS, Pulse of the Online Shopper. The most amazing snippet to me is that 47% of shoppers are willing to have a retailer send a coupon to their smartphone when they are in-store or nearby. Seems like a sea change from not that long ago.

Growing Interest in Retail Mobile Coupons

From the study here are:

the full infographic;

the executive summary;

white paper.

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Posted in E-Commerce, Mobile

Groupon's Growing Mobile Business

May 10, 2013

That post the other day about room to grow in the mobile coupon space.  From the Groupon Q1 earnings call this is what it looks like today for them, one of the leaders in local couponing. Sales via mobile have risen to 45%. There's gold in them devices.

Groupon Mobile Growth

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Posted in Deals, E-Commerce, Mobile

Speed Matters

Feb 05, 2013

My friends over at Rigor put together this litte infographic on the ROI of web performance. A little speed goes a long way for an ecommerce company.


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Posted in E-Commerce, Internet


Dec 09, 2011

VentureBeat reported today that Fab just closed a $40 million round led by Andreessen Horowitz. Fab is an oft talked about company in the halls of Half Off Depot. Before today I do not know about the company's pivot from a social network for gay men. Interesting.

In Fab's announcement they attributed their success to three things.

(1)    A laser-like focus on design. From the design aesthetic of Fab.com’s website and mobile applications, to the products that are featured for sale, to the end-to-end customer experience, Fab.com is all about good design. 
(2)    Social commerce. More than 50% of Fab.com’s 1.2 million members have come from social sharing. 
(3)    Innovation. Fab.com builds all of its own technology and is the world’s pioneer in integrating social and commerce features to enhance the product discovery process.

Focus, social, and innovation.

Perhaps a road map for success.

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Posted in E-Commerce, Social, Startups

Think Different

Oct 05, 2011

Steve Job 1955-2011

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Posted in Angels, Business, Computing, Current Affairs, Customer Focus, Deals, E-Commerce, Entrepreneurship, Film, Fun, Games, Internet, Management, Marketing, Mobile, Music, Networking, Personal, Photography, Presentations, Science, Social, Startups, Stocks, Web/Tech

Deal Facts

Jun 16, 2011

Utpal Dholakia of Rice University has been studying the deals market for some time and a few days ago released a new study, How Businesses Fare with Daily Deals: A Multi-Site Analysis of Groupon, Livingsocial, Opentable, Travelzoo, and Buywithme Promotions. In the study Doctor Dholakia examined the performance of daily deals run through the five major companies listed above in 23 US markets. 

While I have not had a chance to read the full study yet ClickZ has a great overview of the findings:

The was been a lot of chatter about how there is no way a business can make money with a discounted deal. This study shows what I have been hearing from merchants, properly structured deals work. With 73 percent making money or breaking even on their promotions deals are an online marketing method that works.

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Posted in E-Commerce, Internet
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