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Great deal @ Groupon isn't your gain alone. Company COO tells why

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People love to share online what they have got on Groupon. So, the convergence of social, mobile and cloud has helped us, says Groupon India COO Bharath Devanathan

BANGALORE, INDIA: Groupon has one business model across 48 countries. From Paris to New Delhi, it operates in the same way, giving customers a Great Deal every single day. And that has been possible entirely because of technology.

"We built one platform and replicated the same across 47 countries giving us a tremendous advantage while scaling operations to a global level. Beyond that we have centralized technology teams that help build one technology and leverage it across continents making it more agile and easy to deploy," says Bharath Devanathan, COO, Groupon India. Groupon is a deal-of-the-day website that features discounted gift certificates usable at local or national companies.

Mobile contributes to 1/3rd of company's revenues in the US and 17 pc of its traffic is from mobile and handheld devices. "Hence we see a huge opportunity for location-based mobile app that serves deals to customers based on their demographic, location and preferences. We also have a first-of-its-kind merchant mobile app, which helps understand customer interests and buying habits."

When asked to explain the opportunities and challenges posed by convergence of social, mobile and cloud, Bharath said: One of the main reasons we became so popular and the Groupon idea spread like wildfire was because people love to share the fact that they got a Great Deal @ Groupon! The convergence has actually helped us a lot and we have leveraged it by coming up with smart technology like a Groupon customer App that is available across iOS and Android platforms."

And it is significant to note that India is the only country in the Global Groupon Portfolio to have a COD (Cash on Delivery) option in the payment gateway.

However, the company's biggest enemy is poor connectivity. "The challenge we face is that even after 95 pc of the mobile penetration in India, we face the internet connectivity issues. Beyond that we are poised to take on what we like to call the next phase of e-commerce," says Bharath.

Groupon's success story in India isn't very old. "We entered the market in 2011 and have grown tremendously to reach the #1 rank in the daily deals category (as per ComScore data)," says Bharath. Today Groupon has a subscriber base of over 200 million.

The emerging technologies for e-commerce?
Bharath says as the e-commerce industry matures in India, user experience becomes the key differentiator. "Companies need to build intelligence within the websites to ensure that it understands customers better and offers a certain degree of personalization. Cloud-based applications and location-based apps are the next big thing. With mobile penetration and internet accessibility on mobile increasing every day, the next big battle field will be mobile and companies that are ready for this will win," he says.

In that perspective, Groupon is working on a new project called Smart Deals that will ensure that users get relevant deals based on their liking and behaviour on the site in the past. The main idea of these technologies is to improve customer experience, make it more convenient for them by understanding their needs. Most technologies are today available on a pay as you go model and thus allow you to scale without incurring fixed costs, he says.

The role of analytics in driving business
Certainly, numbers mean a lot for any business. "We believe in the fact that "If you can't measure it, you can't improve it. From a marketing point of view we use tons of metrics, both accepted by industry and developed in-house, to measure the performance of every penny spent and effort made. From a Business Point of view, it is a much deeper study than simply using Google Analytics. We conduct thorough analysis by dividing our business into three important verticals - Local, Products and Travel. Learnings are then used to develop new markets or markets with similar consumer demographics," says Bharath.

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