These days, it seems as if you can't go very far on the Internet without running into a daily deals site. They appear to have just popped up overnight, and before you could say "Groupon," there were dozens of them. And while this burgeoning industry has seen its fair share of ups and downs in its short lifetime, it looks like daily deals sites are going to maintain a presence on the Web for the forseeable future.
By ranging from the highly specialized and niche to the something-for-everyone variety, deal-of-the-day sites seem to have cornered every possible market, and so it seems likely that every consumer can find a use for this unique take on e-commerce. Such as guns and gun accessories or video games or ties? Yes, there's even a daily deals site for ties.
Everyone knows about Groupon and LivingSocial, and rightfully so, because they're great at what they do. However, there is, probably literally, an endless array of other, similar sites on the Web offering distinct alternatives, user-specific offers and some really cool specialty products.
Once the floodgates opened and people realized that the money-making potential of the deal-of-the-day market, it was easy for them to get on board. The results have been interesting, to say the least. Of course, the downside to this has been an incredibly oversatured market that is still in its infancy, so every mistake seems to be, and usually is, a big one. Groupon's recent struggles have been well-documented, but as the industry leader begins to falter, smaller sites are beginning to carve out their own place in the market.
This site is quickly becoming the most likely contender for the number-three spot as far as daily deals are concerned. Yipit is available in 84 cities in North America and will only continue to grow. It aggregates "the best daily deals in your city" from sites like Groupon, LivingSocial, Yelp and more, and then recommends deals to users based on their account preferences. This makes it more targeted and, if its working right, relevant. It saves users the hassle of having to wade through deals they don't care about on a bunch of sites; all they have to do is open an email.
This company's name is taken from the Chinese word "Tuangou," which literally translates into "group buying." The goal of Twongo is to secure great discount prices on local products and services through the power of team buying, which is very similar to Groupon's M.O. What makes Twongo different is that as more people buy into a deal, the price goes down. This is meant to convince buyers to encourage people they know to buy into deals with them because it will help them all save money.
Offering more than just literal "daily deals," WhereYouShop also provides a keyword-based deal searcher to allow users to look for local deals that have more value to them than the daily offers. However, what really makes WhereYouShop unique is a patent-pending software that allows users to map out where they work, live and visit. The company then sends email offers to users based on deals located in their specific shopping areas.
The focus of BuyWithMe is on the social aspect of daily deals. Users buy a deal and receive an email with a link to the voucher, but then they're encouraged to share the deal with their friends, and if they get three people to buy with them, the original user's deal is free. (You did read that right, it's totally free.) It's also a great set-up for merchants, because there is no risk; deals can easily be canceled if a business owner doesn't get the sales volume that he or she required.
This is a daily deals site built for "style-concious consumers" looking to save a little money and look good doing it. Jasmere typically offers limited discounts of up to 70 percent off and focuses its efforts on working with "lesser-known specialty retailers that deserve national attention." The website also promises that their local teams of "shopaholics" in New York, L.A. and Washington, D.C. personally test every product that the site features. I guess it's time to grab your best friends, your laptop and a recent issue of Cosmo and start shopping.
Dealster has a wide reach and is available in over 50 major cities in the United States. It's pretty standard as far as deal-of-the-day sites go, as users receive emails about special offers in their city, purchase vouchers and then redeem them at local businesses. The big standout is a neat credit feature that allows users to earn rewards credits by unlocking various badges, which can be obtained by doing things like referring your friends to Dealster. The credits can then go towards buying different deals. There are over 100 ways for users to earn rewards.
The part of me that gets excited about New Comic Wednesday is the same part that is excited about Thwipster, the "daily deals for your inner geek." The design of the site is really simple, every day there are two deals offered: One is a comic book collection or graphic novel and the other is a collectible, such as an action figure from the acclaimed video game Batman: Arkham Asylum. It also has special weekly deals (the "Super Mega Deal of the Week") where they offer something really awesome for really cheap, like 42 percent off the entire Dark Tower collection by Stephen King. (I feel it is my journalistic duty to mention, for comic fans who may be reading this, that this is "A Week of Vertigo" on Thwipster, so head over there if you're interested.)
People love their pets; I know I certainly do. Paws4Deals looks to hone in on that group. You can buy your best buddy anything from toys (which they love) to costumes (which they hate). The site offers one special pet item per day at a low price. It's not complicated, the goal is simply to find "the best prices on pet related and specialty items for you and your pet." Frequent members can also earn rewards points, and the site charges a simple $3.95 flat rate for shipping. Show your closest friends how much you love them by picking them up a little something special the next time you're surfing the Internet.
This deal-of-the-day site is so cool. Every day, the site offers a special t-shirt designed by an independent designer or artist for $10 or less. "Tee today, gone tomorrow" is the slogan, because at the end of 24 hours, when the deal is over, the shirts are never sold again, which is the very definition of limited edition. The little hipster inside of me thinks that this is a great idea. I mean, seriously, who doesn't want a t-shirt that boasts Darth Vader knocking out a character from Star Trek?
This daily deal site is a dinosaur compared to the rest of this list, predating Groupon by four years. Since 2004, Woot! has offered just one deal every day backed by comprehensive insights and purchase patterns. In fact, Woot's success has been noticed and the company was recently acquired by Amazon. They also have a bunch of spin-off sites like Kids.Woot, Wine.Woot, Shirt.Woot and Deals.Woot. It's also just a very entertaining site, and you can tell Groupon lifted a lot of its humor from Woot!'s style. This is a great, proven alternative to some of the large daily deals sites out there and it has yet to make any major missteps.
Of course, this list will probably be outdated before it even reaches your eyes, because with new daily deals sites sprouting up every day, like GoSteals, the market will continue to evolve and provide even more unique products and services for a variety of audiences. The question is, have you made use of daily deals yet?