Groupon, LivingSocial and a host of other such businesses have been masquerading as group-buying sites but this is wrong as they are nothing more than deliverers of Daily Deals.
Group buying should be about consumers combining their purchases to cut a deal on a volume basis with manufacturers and suppliers. The more buyers there are then the greater the price cut that can be negotiated.
Arguably we’ve not really had a fully-fledged group buying business since LetsBuyIt.com back in the dotcom boom days.
But hold on, even this wasn’t the real thing. This I can say for sure because the man who owned the business between 2002 and 2004, Gideon Lask, says it was really a conventional retailer that held its own stock in warehouses and wasn’t negotiating volume deals with suppliers.
But ex-HMV.com man Lask is back and this time he has a real group buying business, BuyaPowa.com, that has just raised £1 million and will launch shortly. It has the snappy strapline ‘Prices drop as people shop’ and will have eight to 10 ‘co-buys’ per day with 100 products available in each one.
With 25 buyers, an item could go for £80, and with 80 potential purchasers it could be nearer £60 for something that might have a full retail price of £150.
This sort of differential could add yet another nail into the coffin of traditional store-based retailing if such group buying really does prove to be the latest new model on the shopping block.
But the proposition has failed in the past so why is it going to rock the boat a second time around? The big difference is that we are now in a social media oriented world where you could say the viral element is especially virulent.
When you combine the viral aspects of Facebook and Twitter with the financial vested interest people have in getting friends/mates/anybody to join them in buying a product then group buying could be about to come of age.