Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

Where everyone forgets a bargain

Naomi Somerville and Adam Booth. Photo / Greg Bowker
Naomi Somerville and Adam Booth. Photo / Greg Bowker

More than a third of New Zealanders who buy coupons from group buying websites forget to redeem them in time, a new survey shows.

But those who do use the websites are likely to check them daily.

The Canstar Blue survey found 43 per cent of respondents had purchased from a group buying website in the past three months.

Of that group, 75 per cent browsed the sites for offers every day, with 77 per cent of women users doing so daily compared with 68 per cent of men.

Derek Bonnar, Canstar NZ's national manager, said sites such as GrabOne - which is owned by APN - and Treat Me were now an entrenched part of New Zealand's retail landscape.

"While old-style retail therapy is perceived as the domain of women, men are embracing online shopping in surprisingly large numbers.

"They can get in and get out, clicking and buying with a minimum of fuss and browsing."

The survey asked respondents to rate websites across six categories including value for money and overall satisfaction, with GrabOne scoring highest.

But despite the websites' growing popularity, the survey revealed some dissatisfaction.

Of recent group-buying website users, 31 per cent had been disappointed by a purchase, and 22 per cent were caught out after not reading terms and conditions.

Twenty-one per cent had difficulties in redeeming an offer, and 36 per cent said they had purchased a coupon but forgotten to redeem it.

Treat Me head James MacAvoy said around a third of recipients opened the deal email, sent out each morning, almost daily.

"For us there is a female bias still, but that number is lower for us, probably around 53-55 per cent. This is most likely due to the wide range of people who use the Trade Me network who got onto Treat Me from it at the start."

He said there were things in place to ensure members had a good experience.

"We do two things that most other sites don't - we send people email reminders when vouchers are expiring soon, and we have an awesome customer service team who are empowered to make people happy by answering questions, chasing up businesses who are too busy to answer their phone on the big day, and offering refunds should things not turn out as planned.

"In terms of forgetting to redeem, our breakage [in redeemed vouchers] is around 15 per cent - this average is dropping with our reminder emails. We also find that with more expensive vouchers - say, over $50-$100 - the breakage drops dramatically."

Aucklander Adam Booth, 32, says he and his partner Naomi Somerville, 33, check the GrabOne website every day to scan for deals.

The rising cost of living and saving for a holiday to Ireland at the end of the year mean socialising is now driven by whether a discount is on offer.

He said 80 per cent of their meals out were subsidised by coupons from either GrabOne or the Entertainment Book.

"The other thing we use, especially with GrabOne, is for a gift - like with parents, a weekend away."

If they had a particularly good meal they would return to the restaurant again at full price or recommend it to friends and family.

Mr Booth said while the vast majority of deals worked out, there were times when it was necessary to consult the fine print or make a complaint.

Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said members recognised the need to engage with such websites.

But she said she personally felt the group buying phenomenon was not good for restaurants' overall business.

"If you have something new to expose to the public, it's great in terms of exposing your brand.

"But as far as repeat business goes, our members have found that many of the deal purchasers don't return to the business."

Group buying websites are contributing to a wider growth in online shopping.

New figures from AMP Capital Shopping Centres show online sales in New Zealand account for 5.1 per cent, or $2.68 billion, of the country's retail sales market.

In Australia, 5.5 per cent of sales are made online, 7.5 per cent in the United States, and 9 per cent in Britain.

The New Zealand online retail market is expected to be worth $4.22 billion by 2015.

- NZ Herald

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