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Small Businesses Are Backing Away From Groupon This Holiday Season

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/small-shops-skip-groupon-for-holidays-2012-11

small business

This holiday season, small retailers are leaving Groupon off their lists as far as sales strategy goes.

This shopping season is the biggest one of the year, and small businesses often rely on sales made during this period to bring them into the black as the year comes to a close.

A sales strategy that didn’t work during the rest of the year is out of the question for the holidays, says Pamela Springer, CEO of online small business network Manta.

This doesn’t bode well for Groupon and other daily deals sites. Only 3percent of retailers got repeat customers out of daily deals promotions, according to a survey Manta released Oct. 30.

“They’re doubling down on things that work, and leaving things that are less proven or they’ve had experience with and didn’t work off to the side,” says Springer.

If businesses aren’t getting repeat customers out of Groupon deals, they’re losing money, says Anthony Bruce, CEO of retail data analyzer Applied Predictive Technology. Groupon often charges businesses as much as half the revenue of a deal sale, which is usually a drastic discount already.

“If there are future purchases that occur because of a Groupon, that’s great,” says Bruce. “If it’s an incremental visit I wouldn’t have gotten anyway, it’s bad. If it’s a visit I would have gotten anyway but did it with a Groupon, that’s terrible.”

Jennifer Untermeyer says she won’t use Groupon this holiday season, because she lost money on the five daily deals she ran last year for her business, TravelKiddy, an online store that sells toys and games to keep kids busy during road trips or plane rides. She ran her first $10 deal for $20 of merchandise on Eversave last November, trying to snag holiday travelers, and ran four more similar deals on niche mom-! themed d eals sites, hoping to score new customers.

It didn’t work.

“We can tell how many people we’ve had repeat, and it’s eight or nine out of 3,000 deals,” she says. “We ended up in an overall loss, even factoring in the marketing benefits.”

Sales chief Kal Raman says Groupon helps businesses retain customers through its reward program, which is sort of like a frequent-flier program for customers. The program helps businesses track purchases a Groupon customer has made, and after a certain level of spending is reached, Groupon automatically sends the customer a free deal.

“We effectively become their loyalty-management company,” says Raman, who sees Groupon as a great way for retailers to sell inventory they’d otherwise be sitting on. “As a small-business owner, you can aim high, and we can hedge that risk.”

Will Ander, senior partner of retail strategy firm McMillan Doolittle, says liquidation is the only good thing Groupon does for small retailers. “It’s more effective than giving it to the Salvation Army.”

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Thursday, November 29th, 2012 news No Comments

OpenSky Hits 1 Million Users And More Than $1.5 Million In Monthly Sales

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/opensky-1-million-users-2012-1


John Caplan OpenSky

Fab and Turntable weren’t the only pivot success stories of 2011. Another e-commerce site, OpenSky, went from struggling to successful in about nine months.

OpenSky was founded in 2009 by John Caplan as an e-commerce arm for bloggers. Influential writers could create storefronts alongside their content, but it wasn’t a fruitful business model for OpenSky.

“Last year we were dead in the water,” says Caplan. “We weren’t selling very much. When people are reading they aren’t buying things; they don’t have their credit cards in hand.”

Caplan decided to pivot his startup. OpenSky relaunched in April as a personalized shopping site.  Now e-commerce isn’t secondary to content on OpenSky; it’s king.

The new OpenSky operates like Twitter. It works with 80 industry influencers and celebrities, like Martha Stewart, Bobby Flay and Alicia Silverstone, to create lists of their favorite items.  Users can follow the influencers and buy the endorsed products.  OpenSky holds all the inventory, ships items to users, and splits the profit 50/50 with influencers. Caplan says none of OpenSky’s influencers are investors. They just really like the product.

“It’s like Twitter but our merchandisers [the celebrities who pick the items OpenSky sells] are making tens of thousands of dollars every month from their followers,” says Caplan. Martha Stewart, for example, has 83,549 followers on OpenSky just waiting to buy a recommended rolling pin or mixing bowl.

So far, OpenSky’s pivot has worked wonders. In April, its first relaunch month, OpenSky generated about $66,000 in sales. Last month it generated well over $1.5 million. “Revenue has been increasing 50% month over month,” says Caplan.

In October the 87-person startup raised $30 million. Today, Caplan told us OpenSky crossed the 1 million user mark. About 68% of users are repeat buyers, purchasing new OpenSky items within eight weeks.

We asked Caplan what his margins are like. Despite the 50/50 split, he says they’re pretty good.

“Brands are excited about OpenSky because they want to be endorsed by celebrities,” says Caplan. While brands can’t pay for distribution on OpenSky, they generate a lot of sales when celebrities decide to post their items. Caplan likens OpenSky to Pinterest.  The brands’ excitement makes it easy for OpenSky to purchase, store and sell celebrity-endorsed items at reasonable prices and margins.

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Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012 news No Comments

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