Indian Deal Sites – Do they have sustainable long-term Business?


The Indian market is full of deal sites & group buying sites like Snapdeal, Mydala, Dealsandyou and many others. The Indian customer is excited about the concept of getting nearly 50% off on products and services.

But the question is will this really last? Are the companies offering such deals able to cover up costs? Are they able to convert these first time user to repeat consumers? Or is this really damaging their bottom-line?.

I once bought a coupon for a massage and a haircut. Something which I wouldn’t spend on, but since the offer was so good, I decided to try it out. Upon entering the shop I presented my coupons, The sales person groaned” you too have one of those”. This salon was inundated with customers which meant more work for the employees, more work hours and deeper discounts. Was it really worth it?


Repeat Customers?

This concept works well on the premise that the new customers would come back and turn to repeat customer thus expanding the customer base of the store. But what really happens, is the audience purchasing the coupon are doing so because of the price, the next time they want to buy a product they will go back to the deal site and buy another deal this time of a different store.  A Rice University study found that only about 1 in 5 daily deal users become repeat customers

Annoys existing customer?

Existing regular customers get annoyed at a fact that customers from the deal site can avail of the product at half the price, when they are actually paying the full amount. Besides if the store can’t keep up with demand with the influx of new customers the business could suffer a serious hit on its reputation.

Additionally, with sudden influx of hordes of customers, more often than not the quality of product or services dips (also because person offering is paying only half the amount..).


Are these companies advertising on deal sites really making a profit at the end of it? Lets take a closer look at the numbers. A restaurant for example, offers a meal worth Rs 500 at 250. ( Rs 50 going to deal site as commission) The restaurant is paid Rs 200. Assume profit margin in this case in 10%. ( assuming volumes). Compare this to a situation wherein person pays 500 for the same meal.( profit margin 40%) . In the first case the profit per customer is Rs 20 and second it is Rs 200.

Taking this example further. Assuming that Deal site would bring in 100 new customers 100 x 20 = 2,000 in profit and traditional advertising would perform 40% effectively in getting new customers. Taking 20% out since traditional advertising is more expensive. So 20 new customer. 20 x 200= 4,000 Profit.

Deal based sites have been working on the premise that customer will return back, but there is no way to measure repeat customer transactions. When consumer spending is low, it makes sense that fewer people are spending on things like expensive dinners out. A discount coupon is an attractive incentive to get them out to the restaurant, and it is more effective at driving new business.

Going ahead I feel its important for deal sites to alter its existing business model to survive in the long term. They need to find ways to add value for merchants to keep offering deals.

This is the future. Customers will always buy deep discount deals, but fewer merchants will need them. What they’ll need, are ways to turn existing business into repeat business!

What do you feel? Will these companies be forced to change their business models? Or can we see the emergence of a new type of deal sites? Comments are open!

  1. Vishal V Kale says

    Nice Article…

    Will it last? I think it will. There might be an adjustment in the product categories they enter – like services (ticket bookings, Restaurant Tickets etc); Product categories where time does not matter / touch-and-feel does not matter like in printer refills, computer stationery and selected peripherals, Books etc.

    The reason is simply because once the novelty factor wears off, and people start noticing that top brands are not there – the sites will either shift focus or perish. The entry of cash-on-delivery has made this industry viable in India, but the shift in focus towards the above highlighted areas will be there simply because a bulk of the business will quite naturally be from these categories.

    As to the benefit for Restaurants etc, it cannot be a long term strategy, or a repeat customer ploy. It will have to be a strategic decision based on the individual brands’ market reality. Lets take an example: Barista’s. I noticed a deal on the net and went for it. What did Barista’s outet gain? A CCD regular – me – visited Barista’s. In simple terms – Trial Purchase. So long as such sites offer this facility, I dont think they will be out of fashion. Yes, it is a niche market – but there is a market.

    Another Example: A failed mobile handset model, or a model with huge inventory. Company plans to introduce new models – and needs to clear inventory…

    These examples are not going to dry up – at least not anytime soon.

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    TheDealKart has organized a lucky draw where 10 lucky winners will get a mobile recharge coupon worth Rs. 1200 every year for the rest of their lives.

  3. Sam says

    I’m damn sure, very few chance of repeat business especially kind of massage centers, etc. Coming to India, it should be 1 in 50, I feel people just want to try since the prices are minimal

  4. Saurabh Jain says

    The point is deals helps in enhancing the brand's visibility , reason being its getting very difficult for business owners to increase their customer base via traditional advertising mediums.For example , there are so many restaurants in one's vicinity one is not aware of.Deals like this make their presence felt and thus increase a brand's visibility which is further enhanced by repeat customers , word of mouth publicity.

  5. Vijay Srinivas says

    Getting repeat customers is the key for the businesses and the deal websites' highest prioirty should be to make that happen.The businesses should give "exclusive follow on" coupons to get the customer for the second time.And the deal website should build functionalities to support those "follow on coupons" online.Customers should be able to receive/redeem/speak about those "follow on" coupons online.

  6. Manjunath Reddy says

    How about deal a dayfor products…check business model.

  7. CapitalistDesi says

    You are right — keeping the customer and making them come back is what the service provider is betting on. And most ‘deal’ customers are exactly that – looking for a good deal – so they are extremely fickle – and will likely not come back and shop at the original price once the deal is done.
    Some deal sites in the US have changed their business model due to this. They now offer a performance guarantee that X % of your deal customers will return back .. else we will refund you some amount of money.

  8. Tyrone Dsouza says

    Hi Nimesh Agree with you repeated engagements can be built but at what cost? Is this severely affecting their profits.

  9. Vikas Gupta says

    please visit for comprehensive list of Indian deal site and aggregators

  10. KB says

    A correctly pointed out issue. Also, will Deals focus to big cities only or they will be able to come in small cities and sustain as well??

  11. Sadek says

    These dealing sites really helps us to get best thing which one can get from the web.
    So i think these sites have a bright future in Indian market.

  12. Nimesh Bhandari says

    how about real estate group buying sites like ,,
    There the discounts offered by these sites is valuable. Repeat purchase is an issue, but repeat engagements can be built by getting discounts on tiles, furnitures for these customers.

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