How to Use a Daily Deal Site, Even if You Don’t Have a Store

By now, you’ve almost certainly bought a Groupon or Living Social coupon or two and indulged in an ultra-cheap steakhouse dinner or a salon hairdo at Supercuts prices. But have you stepped over to the merchant side? Even if you don’t run a bricks-and mortar store, you can get in on the group-action sales market — and offer discounts to potential customers.

Here are a few tips for getting started with Groupon and its ilk — even if you don’t have a typical retail outlet:

  • Try Groupon Now instead of the standard Groupon. With most group-buying deals, customers have up to a year to redeem their coupons at a specific location. If you sell your products at flea or farm markets, or if you’re just not certain you can keep inventory in stock at all times, this approach may not be practical. Instead, join forces with the new Groupon Now or another real-time deals service, which allow you to feature deals that are only valid for a certain period of time (hours or days). Groupon Now is available in 20 North American cities and continues to add more.
  • Offer a delivery service. If you sell a tangible product — say, gourmet cupcakes baked in your own kitchen — a group-buying deal could be worthwhile if you don’t want countless customers traipsing through your house. Instead of inviting them in, offer to come to them. Just make sure that your minimum-order amount is high enough to cover the cost of gas, and limit your service area to a reasonable distance.
  • Partner with an existing store. Even if you aren’t ready to shell out for rent on your own, you may be able to find a local store that’ll be willing to stock your products and sell them in exchange for a small commission. Keep in mind that, between the group-buying site’s hefty cut (up to 60/40) and the shop owner’s commission, you probably won’t be making any money on this deal — but if your intention is simply to get the word out about your product, it could be an ideal solution.
  • Find a nationally focused specialty buying site that fits your niche. If you offer products through an e-commerce site, you’ll be best served by getting in touch with a group-buying site that fits your specific demographic. There are countless options to choose from. If you sell baby clothes or toys, try Zulily or Totsy. If eco-friendly’s your focus, check out Blissmo or GreenBoxTop. If you want to find the right site for your product, check out the Daily Deal Directory for more ideas.

About Kathryn Hawkins

Kathryn Hawkins is a principal at the content marketing agency Eucalypt Media. She's written about business, marketing, and entrepreneurship for publications including BNET, TheAtlantic.com, Inc.com, and owns and operates the positive news site Gimundo. Follow her on Twitter at @kathrynhawkins.
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