Group buying sites soar

The online group buying and daily discount sector has grown from a base of virtually nothing five years ago to be worth $377 million in 2010-11.

According to Ibis World GM, Robert Bryant, said the sector, which includes players such as Cudo, Spreets, Ozsale, Catch of the Day and Stardeals, accounts for 1.8 per cent of Australia’s total online retail spend of $21.3 billion.

While bricks and mortar retailers are struggling with sales, which are expected to grow by just 2.3 per cent in 2010-11, online discount retailers are booming, said Bryant. IbisWorld predicts the segment will double its revenue by 2015-16, exceeding $650 million and accounting for 2.1 per cent of online retail spend.

“Offering three major selling propositions – group voucher discounts, clearance goods and travel for limited periods – this sector is now the fastest growing retail platform in Australia,” Bryant said.

The world’s first online group-buying site, Groupon, opened in the US in November 2008. It has now been proclaimed the fastest growing company in history, and is estimated to be worth $15 billion, launching in Australia in March 2011 under the brand Stardeals.

From small beginnings, the market is no longer the domain of small independent operators, with major acquisitions in the past 12 months by some big names.

In January 2011, Yahoo!7 purchased Spreets for $40 million; Cudo is owned by Nine Entertainment; the Ten Network owns Our Deal; James Packer has bought into Deals Direct (owners of Dealme.com.au); and Twitter purchased Ozsale for $14 million.

New York-based global hedge fund, Tiger Global, is understood to be close to securing a 30 per cent stake in Scoopon, which owns Catchoftheday.com.au.

Catchoftheday.com.au is the biggest player in the market, with turnover of $110 million tipped this financial year. In a bid to compete, Harvey Norman has launched its first daily deals site this month, Harveynormanbigbuys.com.au.

Wotif.com.au is holding tight to its crown as the king of the discount travel and accommodation market, and its parent company, Wotif.com Holdings is also the owner of lastminute.com.au.

In the 2006 financial year Wotif.com’s sales revenue was around $45.5 million. Last year sales rose to $136 million.

Intense competition between group buying sites is likely to result in merger activity over the next couple of years – and consumers will reap the benefits.

The general market is somewhat saturated, and Bryant expects any new entrants will focus on niche markets, such as fitness, restaurants and leisure, while others will try to take on Catch of the Day and new player Harvey Norman Big Buys in the clearance goods market.

IBISWorld has broken down the most popular products and services within the group buying and daily-discount sites by share of daily deals:

 

Product or service

Share of daily deals

Travel and accommodation

29.3%

Retail goods

29.2%

Beauty

14.0%

Dining out

10.6%

Leisure activities

8.0%

Fashion

4.0%

Professional  services

3.0%

Sport and fitness

1.5%

Food

0.4%

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