Thomas Salzano a famous backpacker and a bloggerRead more...
The newest Groupon clone is a project of China's largest search engine, Baidu
I knew that Youa Tuangou was a Chinese website, but for some reason, I thought that once I got to the website, the copy would suddenly all fall into place and I would be able to navigate around with ease. No such luck. It turns out, I can’t read Chinese.
Nevertheless, Youa Tuangou, which translates in Chinese to “group buy,” is today’s Groupon clone of the day. The site is the youngest of the Groupon clones covered thus far, but it will prove a formidable opponent to Groupon as the collective buying behemoth expands its global reach.
Launched in beta in early December, Youa Tuangou is a project of Baidu, the Google of China (now that Google is no longer the Google of China). The Chinese search engine accounts for 73% of all searches in China, while Google accounts for 21.5%.
Though still young, Youa Tuangou already closely mirrors Groupon, including the U.S. company’s recent introduction of Groupon Stores, which will allow merchants to create and launch as many of their own deals as they want, as often as they want, thereby alleviating the wait to be featured as a Groupon deal of the day (merchants will have their deals promoted via email and will walk away with 70% of each Groupon sold and 90% of each non-promoted Groupon sold, but I digress). Similarly, Baidu’s new group buying project will allow merchants to create their own deals through its Baidu Shenbian website, a Yelp-like site where users can post consumer reviews on local businesses and services. The deals will then be promoted on Baidu Shenbian through Youa Tuangou.
"Any merchant on Shenbian can set up a group shopping deal. We give them the tools," said company spokesperson Kaiser Kuo to IDG News. "This is going to be a very important feature for us on Youa."
This isn’t China’s first foray into collective buying, but it is a very different approach to what the country had before. TeamBuy.com.cn was founded in 2006 with the goal of organizing shoppers to take to the streets en masse and haggle with local merchants face-to-face. This is exactly what it sounds like. Chinese consumers use TeamBuy to rally mobs of 15+ shoppers to show up at a merchant’s storefront to demand discounts on goods. Somehow, the site took off, despite how utterly exhausting its platform sounds (this is what Costco is for, and even Costco is too exhausting).
The team buying trend took off in China in 2007, but online shopping has been slower to catch on in a market that is flooded with knockoffs and shoddy workmanship (melamine, anyone?). "Online shopping has been around for a few years, and Chinese people realize that it's quick and easy, but there's a crisis of trust and honesty. How do you know whether to trust the seller?" said Ouyang Jixing, deputy director of www.020tgw.com, a team-buying Web site in Guangzhou, in an interview with the Christian Science Monitor.
But that looks poised to change as Groupon inches its way over to China. While Groupon has not yet reached mainland China, it recently bought up three websites in the region, two of which serve Hong Kong and Taiwan. Other Groupon-like sites have cropped up in China in recent months—1,200 to be exact. The market is expected to be approximately 980 million yuan ($147.6 million) by the end of the year, with a 57% growth rate over the next several years, according to Analysys International.
Image source: tuan.youa.com
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