For the first time ever since I used my first groupon, I have never truly witnessed the impact of group buying on businesses. But a recent redeemed deal at Andersen’s Ice cream (IMM outlet) made me experience the wrath of group buying impact on local businesses which are not used to a sudden surge in customers.
This deal was selling like hot cakes the moment it was out. Titled “$10 for $20 Worth of Ice Cream, Smoothies, Pastries and More at 3 Locations. $20 for $40 Option Available.” and coupled with a strong brand supporting the deal, I wasted not more than 3 minutes to buy a coupon for myself (Yes, Groupon mobile makes purchasing THAT easy).
With anticipation and glee, together with my friend, we thus set forth to redeem the deal at the IMM Outlet at about 2 weeks ago. However, this joyous mood was immediately destroyed when the middle age lady working in the store shouted out, in exact words, “Use Coupons also right? Take out, TAKE out the coupons”. After saying so, she threw another two menus on to the table after we are seated down and left to fiddle with other things in the store.
The climax of that night came when she demanded coupons from another young couple family with their kid for their coupons. Though I did not witness what happened after the lady took out the coupons, I did witness the following screaming:
Customer: What the?! Who say I am going to use all the coupons? Why did you assume?!
Lady Waitress: Of course la! Everybody here also use coupon what!
Customer: What kind of attitude is this?
Lady Waitress: Don’t like don’t eat la!! Get out of here la? (In a defiant tone)
Customer: What kind of lousy service is this! I swear I won’t come back ever again!!
The young couple then packed up and left in a hurry with their kid. It was indeed not a good start before we even start ordering. Soon after the dispute, the lady waitress does seem to have a slight change in her attitude, a change for the better. But the first impression when we stepped into the store, made us regret immediately on purchasing this Groupon. It made us just want to get out of this place fast.
The desserts were soon served and was satisfactory (pictures below), with another bubbly waitress apologizing for her mistake in scooping the wrong ice cream, which was in stark contrast to the lady’s waitress defiant attitude. We soon paid up the remaining sum and left.
After the incident, I soon pondered, is Groupon helping or killing off local businesses? The poor lady waitress obviously had her fair share of entertaining a full day of streaming Groupon users that were out of her normal job scope capacity. However it is definitely no justification for her service standard that day.
From what we have observed, it also seemed that nobody is actually ordering more than what the coupons are worth. In fact, almost 90% (Including us) ordered to the exact denomination of the coupons. After this incident, I am pretty sure I will not step in Andersen again, or at least the outlet at IMM.
To be fair, I had used many Groupons in the past too, with varying levels of satisfaction. In fact, most of the merchants are pretty good quality, but this was just too much. And no doubt, Groupon had brought me to places which I would have never stepped into if not for the help of group buying. I would not have bought anything from Andersen if not for Groupon. However, to retain Groupon-ers or any group buying users as repeating customers, will definitely require a whole new study into this field of commerce. Nope, offering rebate or discount on return visits do not really work. You got to be offering your best in every aspect for every customer as though they are normal paying customer in order to have higher chance of seeing them patronizing your store again. That includes good service, quality of your food/service/product in order to have any marketing effect through this channel. Unless your business has really high profit margin to do regular business with group buying business models, you only get that 1 or 2 shots at your chance to impress these group buyers, and HOPEFULLY, they will return.
Did you redeem your Groupon Recently? Share with us your Groupon experience below! Be it good or bad!
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