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New Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) Your wait for special discounted meal offers or spa vouchers is over; now online portals are offering the best deals to suit your pockets.

2010-02-15T08:12:00Z

New Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) Your wait for special discounted meal offers or spa vouchers is over; now online portals are offering the best deals to suit your pockets.

Taking a cue from the US-based website groupon.com, online portals like snapdeal.com and mydala.com are offering lucrative deals by offering customers discounts up to 80 percent on restaurants, dance classes and spas among others.

According to Kunal Bahl, CEO snapdeal.com, people don't want to spend too much time in the lookout for good discounts; so such online portals help them find a good deal.

'Today consumers have got so many choices that they want to try out new places and experiment. At the same time they want value for money; so our aim is to help them in finding a good deal at discounted prices,' Bahl told IANS.

'Our effort is to bring buyers and sellers together in a collaborative and focused way. The website offers customers great and cost effective deals and provides the merchants with a whole set of new customers,' he added.

The website that was launched in the first week of February focuses only on one offer a day across the country.

Since the portal offers discounts up to 80 percent in restaurants, shopping at top brand outlets, beauty and health packages, lifestyle products, travel, entertainment and much more, how do merchants (places that offer deals) stand to benefit from such schemes?

Describing the phenomenon as 'customer acquisition cost', Bahl explained: 'Merchants see this as an opportunity to establish a lifetime relationship with a customer. Today a person goes to a new restaurant at discounted prices and if impressed with the food, service and ambience, he/she is likely to come back without asking for a discount. This is how the whole deal thing works.'

When Nirbhay Gupta, human resource manager, heard about the snapdeal.com portal, he was sure there was some hidden charge or fee that one has to pay to become a member of such a portal.

'I am sure there must be some hidden cost. I can't believe that you can get so much discount without paying anything,' said Gupta.

However, Bahl explained that it is through these deals that merchants get new customers and make profits.

'Every place has its lean days but they won't switch off their basic systems like electricity, lights just because they don't have any customer. So while they are offering services at discounted prices, they are also making some money which they might not be making otherwise,' explained Bahl.

'There is no such hidden cost. All you have to do is opt for the deal of the day and pay with your credit card. The discounted voucher can be used for a certain period of time. Ours is just an e-commerce site,' he added.

What sets snapdeal.com apart from its competitive mydala.com or groupon.com is that it is not based on group buying process.

What happens in a group buying process is that if a deal is up on the portal, there has to be a group of people bidding for that deal. And if enough people don't buy that deal, it is cancelled.

This doesn't happen with snapdeal.com. They open a deal for a particular time period and want as many people to go for it.

'We are open to as many people, in fact, the more the merrier. However, in certain deals the upper limit will be mentioned on the site. This is necessary because if a place has seating capacity of just 100 people, we don't want 150 people to create a crowd there. So our deals are based keeping these basic things in mind,' maintained Bahl.

For every deal snapdeal.com gets a commission. Currently the online portal has tied up with 53 merchants in the capital and has plans to get started in cities like Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai by the end of February.

(Shilpa Raina can be contacted at shilpa.r@ians.in)

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