Interview with 0

Hi and welcome. Coupon sites, a very fine line between disaster and success. Today we are going to talk about, a huge coupon site from India, which shows that with the right mix, coupon sites are a good business. So Ravi, how did start?

logo-couponRavi:  Well, after moving back to India from the United States at the end of 2011, I found that the E-commerce market was growing rapidly in India. The concept of building a coupon site sparked me then. I believed that such a site would be needed for customers looking for discounts and can benefit from this trend.
I have been into deal hunting in the United States, and was also a marketer running online businesses. So, I decided to bring my interest, my skills, and business opportunity together. Thus, started in July 2012.
And 4 years later, how is doing?
Ravi:   Doing pretty good for our consumers and for us. We are the #1 coupon site in India by numbers of listings of ecommerce stores, and over 3350+ merchants on our platform. We do over 1 Million visits a month and have over 400+ exclusive coupons.

How exactly does a coupon site work for the user?
Ravi: CouponRani is the hub for all the latest and working coupons from all the popular online stores, including Amazon India, Flipkart, Snapdeal, PayTM, etc. When a consumer decides to shop online from a particular store, he will look out for coupons to save extra or to find out the best deal. Nobody likes to spend more, right? So, the user can look for the most relevant coupon for his purchase at our merchant page, can apply the coupon code at the respective box, and he will see the discount he got and the remaining amount he has to pay if applicable. In fact, a coupon site makes online shopping for any user the most economical one!

What are the typical coupons that a user can find?
Ravi:  Typical coupons can range from 10% to 50% Off on your purchase to 100% Off the First Order.  It all varies based on how aggressive the merchant is in trying to attract new users to his platform.

Are coupon sites for the internet savvy or for the average internet user?
Ravi: is for everyone who can shop online. We make it easy for the consumer to get the coupon from our website, as we don’t require a login to get coupons. No matter whether you are a frequent online shopper or shops rarely, any time you shop, you can use the coupons to enjoy discounts.

The best coupon you ever had?
Ravi: Our exclusive coupons are often the super-hit.  The best one so far in our history has been Exclusive Coupons for Amazon for their electronic category. The next one is Food ordering-related coupons, and Buy 1 Get 1 Free on Pizza is very popular.

How much can you actually save? And is there any strategy to save more?
Ravi: It depends; you can save up to 10 to 50% of your purchase value. If you consider the average order value of Rs 1000, we have seen consumers save up to Rs 500.  We have seen if you are buying a product trying to use a coupon, along with cashback from Payment Walletsor Merchant, it can give you extra savings.  An example of this would be
1)    Get a discount through Coupon
2)    Get extra cashback by paying through a digital wallet (say PayTM)
3)    Use a credit card with points/miles or cash back to load the digital wallet.

Any advice for the buyers using coupon sites? What could go wrong?
Ravi: Read the fine print for the coupon carefully around the condition in which it is applicable.  Understanding the restrictions will not leave you disappointed.

Going on a different perspective now, why would a company offer a coupon to a coupon site (and I suppose some commission on each sale) instead of just making discounts directly on their own site?
Ravi: Great question. If coupons can help increase the conversion rate, then why not offer it on the site directly and save the commission, except when you want to grow. Most merchants know that Coupon sites are the best platforms to reach out to new purchasing customers in a given segment and pay for them on a performance basis.  There are no other platforms that will offer you to acquire users and pay for transactions based on your criteria.

Can coupons be used only online? And do you need to have an online store with couponing features? What are the requirements to have a coupon listed on your site?
Ravi: Coupons can be used online and in offline stores. Today all platforms for developing eCommerce sites have a couponing feature built into them, so yes, an eCommerce store should have that feature to accept coupons. For an online store to list their coupons on our platform, they should be a genuine store with good reviews on the web.  We do this check to ensure the experience of our users remains good.

Are there any do’s or dont’s when offering coupons online?
Ravi: For a merchant, if you are offering coupons, just keep in mind that coupons spread fast, and if you want to send them to only one set of audiences, it may well reach many more. So, the best is to put the restrictions elsewhere.

What makes different and better for the companies issuing coupons?
1)    We are the #1 coupon site when it comes to the listing of merchants on the website, and currently, we have more than 3350+ merchants on our site.  We have found that several coupon sites only focus on the large merchants, and the niche merchant sites which may have excellent unique inventory are not found easily by shoppers.  We differentiate by making sure we have coupons and offers for all the merchants on our site.
2)    Secondly, we have over 400+ exclusive coupons on our site, which are only present on our site, and thus it gives a lot more value to visiting consumers.
3)    We also are the only site in India to have a Hindi site
4)    We offer API for coupons for our business partners.
Ps:   We are not in the business of issuing coupons, and the coupons are issued by the Merchants. We are an aggregator of coupons and a channel for e-tailers to get new customers.

I remember one talk at an e-commerce conference that said offering coupons would only cut the margin and brings no benefits. What’s your take on this?
Ravi: Often, such one-sided statements can show the lack of depth in understanding how coupon sites can be useful affiliate partners and bring in new customers.
We have seen some large brands stopping their affiliate programs, or do not offer coupons, or do not allow coupon sites in affiliate programs, but in all these cases, we have seen them coming back and open up to coupons and having coupon sites as partners.
It is key to remember when you are looking at growth as an E-commerce site; you need a different set of partners to help you drive traffic and transaction. Coupons are a reality of today’s eCommerce transactions, and unless you are a luxury brand with a much-differentiated product, you will need them to be part of your promotion mix.  It’s best to have a nuanced view and structure your coupons and affiliate partnerships in a way so that they meet your internal objectives. It’s about knowing how to manage such a channel.

I guess for a coupon site; the hardest part is to get traffic. How did you get yours? What is a recipe for success?
Ravi: We are a group of marketers, growth hackers, and product-focused teams. We are focused on many online channels – Search, Social, Email as well as offline – through API partners to drive traffic to our site.  We constantly focus on high-quality content – which is coupons on our site, as well as strong content on our blog, in the form of unique surveys to attract users.   Our recipe for success is our continuous innovation in finding new ways to bring traffic to our site.

What would you do differently with the knowledge you have now, after 4 years since launching?
Ravi: If I launched again, we would spend a lot more time in building our website upfront and on user experience. It took us some time to reach that stage when we had launched CouponRani.

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