A while ago we did report that Groupon was finally moving to groupon.co.inas its legal woes on the naming front in India got resolved.

Ankur Warikoo

Ankur Warikoo

This finally happened – and they not just announced it but threw a party to do it – and also provide various stakeholders an opportunity to connect with merchants and experience some of the deals at the event itself!

The PR bit:

Groupon Inc., the global leader in group buying with a presence in 48 countries and a subscriber base of over 200 million, recently announced the rebranding of its India business from Crazeal to Groupon India (www.groupon.co.in). This move comes nearly a year after the company’s entry into India, during which consumers across 78 cities benefitted from the deals made available.

Commenting on this development, Ankur Warikoo, CEO Groupon India said, “We have always been Groupon. When we launched in India, we found that we had a namesake. So we coined the name Crazeal and launched it as the India arm of Groupon Inc. A year later, we are celebrating our first anniversary and are delighted to announce that we are now legally Groupon India. With this new identity, comes a great advantage and a newly ignited passion to raise the bar and to beat ourselves at our own game.”

At an event organized by Groupon, CEO Ankur Warikoo also presented the story so far and shared some insights about what’s been very different about Groupon India as compared to other deal and couponing players, and even compared to Groupon elsewhere. We caught up with him and spoke to both other Groupon folks, as well as the merchants present there.

NBW: Groupon claims that despite being a late entrant into the market, they’re the biggest now (based on Comscore data) and have managed this primarily because they’ve gone after the best merchants from a few focused categories viz. local services, lifestyle products and travel.

Ankur: “We do not want to be the newspaper of discount coupons, but a lifestyle discovery engine where we play the role of a curator,” Ankur said. The focus on being a trusted curator of good brands and services was evident in all the messaging coming from the team right through the evening. Apparently, 48% customers make a repeat purchase on Groupon within 30 days of their first one. Apparently, the merchants are happy with the quality of customers Groupon brings to them. “Unlike other deal sites, we are a full payment offering”, explained a Groupon employee at the event. “This ensures only folks serious about making a purchase go ahead with buying the coupon.” Groupon India claimed to have 92% redemption rates across categories.

At the backend, they indeed seem to be doing a lot to ensure the quality of merchants is good. They are building competencies in capacity planning – something they use to help merchants plan their campaigns. If a merchant makes the cut both on the capacity front and also meets quality checks – primarily through reviews and reference checks – the deal is listed. “Our focus is on a good service or product offering at a good price, not on the discount offered.” They also do unannounced checks of the merchant’s services to ensure the quality meets their standards.

For merchants, Groupon’s audience, and the ability to design promotions with improved capacity planning seemed to be the draw. Most at the event sounded confident of retaining customers even without the discounts and were not worried about only bargain hunters using their promotions. (Of course, this was a handpicked set of merchants.) In fact, Groupon look at themselves as “the operating system that runs small and medium businesses” more than just a deal site, and have provided merchants with tools and insights to both plan their promotions, and to track the performance of the same.

We liked the focus on playing curator for good local services, lifestyle products and experiences. However, this still needs to translate into more – both in terms of features and messaging – at the user’s end before they reach their stated goal of being a preferred decision making tool for users. Right now – as Ankur himself accepted – they’re very dependent on triggers such as mailers, social media mentions and ads to drive impulse purchase behaviour. Groupon does have a good opportunity to be a meaningful player in a space that many have pivoted away from after half baked attempts, and their stated intentions seem to be steps in the right direction.

Recommended Read: Groupon performance in India : Selling a voucher every 33 seconds, 100% QoQ growth [Interview]