Social shopping is gaining immense popularity and the reasons are numerous – better deals, bargains, ease, convenience etc. We find ourselves being bombarded by emails and SMS’ trying to lure us into setting up an account to make a transaction. If you are not tempted by the 500 points that would be credited in your account on joining, perhaps a chance to purchase Rs 10,000 worth of merchandise for just Rs 1,500 might work for you. The bottom line is it’s hard to resist such deals, and more often than not, it leads into impulsive buying.
Snapdeal, Taggle, BuythePrice, SoSasta, Fashion & You, Deals & You, 20North, etc. are just a few of the social shopping sites that have been creating a buzz. While people get good discounts, the merchants benefit from e-commerce as it provides them with marketing opportunities at a relatively lower cost. They are able to reach out to a wider audience, which helps them create brand awareness and leads to increased business. Take for instance Carnation, a one-stop-shop for cars, who acquired 5,000 + customers through SnapDeal in a span of three days.
SnapDeal for great bargains
On some of these sites, you can directly buy the deal, while on others; you will have to wait till the deal goes live. It works on the principle that higher the number of buyers interested in the product, the better the deal. This springs from the group buying phenomenon that you observe in the real world, where a group of people interested in a product persuade the manufacturer and bargain for a better price. However, its online avatar doesn’t give that kind of choice to people. Instead shoppers are required to choose from the products featured on the website and there are fixed slabs of discounts depending upon the number of people at each level. Here, the deal would go live only when the minimum required number of people show interest in the deal, thus making it profitable for the site.
One such website that allows group buying is Buytheprice.com. It was started by Ranjith Boyanapalli, who was inspired by the informal bulletin board when at Infosys, where employees shared information, asked for advice, etc. His idea was that technology can help various people with similar shopping needs to benefit from each other's purchase.
Stay in India, shop in the US
While Buytheprice.com deals mostly in consumer durables, electronic appliances, etc. SoSasta.com, which was recently acquired by US giant Groupon, works on a similar concept, but offers city-based lifestyle deals on restaurants, spas, fashion accessories, travel, etc.
Moving away from the group buying sites, you have sites like Snapdeal.com, which is currently the number one ranked e-commerce site in India as per the Dataquest & Sapient E-Commerce survey 2011. While SnapDeal.com also brings to you city-based and pan India deals that cover food, lifestyle, resorts, apparels, spas, etc, it differs from the rest in the sense that you do not have to wait for the deal to go live, nor do you have to create an account. And not to be left behind, the pioneers of e-commerce in India, eBay has also introduced similar city-based everyday deals currently limited to Mumbai and Delhi.
More goodies without even leavingyour home
Though social shopping appears to be a win-win situation, one needs to be cautious when buying online. While you may find some genuinely good deals, it’s not difficult to get ripped off. So read the fine print before going nuts on the 'buy' button. Check the products that are featured, especially when it comes to electronic appliances. With newer products being launched every day, you will find that the products featured online are old models, which you could buy at a discount anyway. The same holds true for clothes and other fashion accessories. Look for sales at the nearby mall before purchasing online, as more often than not, you will find the same products online, with possibly a better discount. Plus, you will also have to pay shipping charges, which will further increase your cost.
When you come across products from high fashion brand names available at throwaway prices, think twice before buying them. Research the brand online and get a clear idea of their original prices, or you may end up with mere imitations. There are some websites that allow you to import products, but the shipping and the taxes catapult the prices, and you may end up paying three times the listed price of the product.
The big one
You may also find attractive travel packages at unbelievably low prices. The catch here is that you may have to redeem the discount coupon within a limited period, which more often than not is during the off seasons. So unless you want to be in Goa during the raging monsoons, make sure you do your homework!