Groupon Teaches Us These Lessons About Discounts

Groupon is up in its latest earnings report. About 18 percent and that’s welcome news for the e-commerce discount platform. Headquartered in Chicago, Groupon launched in November 2008. It rose by leaps-and-bounds. That is, until recent years, when it experienced big time losses. In fact, its 2011 Q4 figures revealed a whopping $9.8 million loss. Ironically, that comes about a year after the Wall Street Journal forecasted it to reach $1 billion in sales faster than any other company in history. Today, it’s a different story. And, this business model teaches us all important business lessons about discounts.

The Downside of Discounts

Big companies aren’t immune to blunders. Right now, McDonald’s is trying a bold new experiment. There’s no guarantee it will work. But, the company won’t know unless it tries. Groupon’s saga tells us much about discounts. For participating businesses, Groupon vouchers do get more customers through the door. But the question to ask is if those same individuals would have patronized the business without a Groupon?

Your marketing message plays a huge role in conveying the true value of your products. Even if your prices aren’t the lowest around, emphasizing the added value that customers get from your store, such as any guarantees you offer, personalized service or better-quality merchandise than the competition, can convince shoppers your prices are worth it. —Small Business Trends

Additionally, there’s another phenomenon at play. A large majority who use a Groupon do not repatronize a partner business. After all, why pay full fare? Moreover, it does cause customers to seriously think about the value of non-discounted purchases. That starts a cycle. A business partners with Groupon. That business serves more customers during the discount period. Then, visits go back to the previous levels. If it comes at a net cost per ticket, there’s obviously no benefit. So, they do not participate in Groupon discounts again.

Product and Service Discount Advantages

But, this isn’t always the scenario. Some businesses gain a net plus from working with Groupon. Which means there are some distinct advantages to offering discounts on products and services. Here are the benefits to offering discounts to your customers:

  • Attract more customers. It’s no secret people like deals. So, play to this by offering discounts on key items or services. You’ll attract new customers and this will increase repeat business at the same time. It’s a great way to advertise and to be seen as providing real value.
  • Increase sales. With more new customers and repeat business, you’ll have more sales. If you choose the right discount strategy, you’ll come out ahead and that’s money you can use in different ways. For instance, you can purchase more inventory or put that extra sales money to other uses.
  • Free up space. Discounts can help to free up precious shelf and/or cabinet space. This is a great move for small, independent retailers because it allows them to offload certain things to bring in new products.
  • Bolster reputation. Offer discounts to certain people, like military and first-responders. This shows your business cares and that’s a positive for its reputation. You can do the same with elderly customers or families with small children.

Do you offer discounts? If so, what kind and how much? Have you found discounts help or hurt your business? Please share your thoughts and experiences by commenting!

Interested in learning more about business? Then just visit Waters Business Consulting Group.

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