Life at Groupdrop – Lords of Jenga!

E Commerce is serious business. And we seriously want to sell. But we try not to take ourselves too seriously. We strive to get things right in the first attempt. But we’d be kidding if we told you we always do. Although, we do work really hard to achieve the high standards we set for ourselves. But we’re only human and bound to miss every now and then, and that stresses us.

Stress is bad. So, we do push ups – the real ones. Push ups are great to build strength! But none of us can go past 10! So we joke, because we’re told laughter is the best form of exercise! Then we throw some darts. Not at each other – at the board… err… or around! We have intense tournaments, which stress us even more. So we play Jenga… for hours! Jenga is the best. Jenga should be a part of the Olympics. We’re currently, very seriously, attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the tallest Jenga, but we don’t cheat. We’re too honest for that. And that reflects in our efforts.

Presently, we’re a team of 10, very enthusiastic and driven by the passion to make it big – like real big! And we’re growing, fast. Formal office etiquette isn’t necessarily appreciated. We collaborate and keenly work along with each other – Nobody is limited to their job role. All decisions are collective and all opinions matter. We share problems and ideas over lunch, sometimes watch a Youtube clip or two – For the record, Ronan Keating rocks! Most importantly, we look forward to come to work everyday, because we absolutely love it when we do, what we do, where we do!

Our Focus – Setting it Right!

The idea behind GroupDrop, unlike the other erstwhile group buying websites, was to create a platform that would encourage consumers to buy exactly what they want. Encouraging consumers to ask for, discuss within the community and be able to buy products that they truly desired. The website was thus built, keeping in mind a clear consumer focus.

To make specific products available, it required us to liaise and negotiate with hundreds of vendors. If one vendor had a particular product, he didn’t have another one! If the other one had both the products, he wouldn’t have many more that we would require. So, invariably, the vendors would try and push the products that they readily had at rates that they could afford to give out. But this would mean shifting away our determined focus from the consumer, to the vendor – and we didn’t want that. Hence, extremely judiciously, we on-boarded a select few trusted vendors who would supply the products that we needed, when we needed and at the rates that were competitive.

Their only condition was that they needed a guarantee of a minimum number of products to be sold to give a healthy discount. It was a fair demand, considering their discounts are largely based on reducing inventory cost. How could we give them a guarantee? This is when “Join the Drop” was conceived. At the time of joining a Drop, we would take a token amount from interested buyers and block a product for them. This serves two purposes. The genuinely interested buyers get to buy the product that they came looking for and truly desired, and dissuades window shoppers who might back out post committing. This efficiently safeguards the purchase of sincere buyers without affecting the vendors negatively.

The Past

When the founders saw the 150 Mercedes Benz sold for large discounts, the idea of Groupdrop was born. Back then, it was just a passing thought, an appreciation of the idea. Six years later, and in the ecosystem we currently swim in, Groupdrop became a reality.  At its core, the idea was ‘group buying.’ One product for five, 10 products for 40. Everything is sold this way, then why wasn’t anyone already doing it?

The fact is, Group buying websites have globally been in existence since 2008. In India as well, several websites like Mydaala.com, Dealsmagic.com, Masthideals.com, Taggle.com, GrOffr.com etc had tested the waters of bulk buying since 2009. And with the introduction of GroupOn in India in 2011, many of these websites shut shop while some changed their business model altogether. Fundamentally, we felt, the idea was phenomenal. We knew that it had been tried before, but we also knew that it could be done better. So what went wrong with them? And what could GroupDrop do differently to not just survive, but to prosper among it’s peers?

What Went Wrong with the erstwhile Group Buying Websites?

Problem 1:

Predominantly, all Group Deal websites draw their revenue through commissions that the merchants, vendors and manufacturers pay them for each new customer that they get. Barring the big players, most merchants have limited marketing options like Bulk SMSes, Flyers or registering themselves on Vendor aggregator websites like JustDial or Sulekha. Since they’re new and trying to find their feet, they’re ready to bend over backwards to get new customers than to not get any at all.

Problem 2:

For some websites, storing bulk inventory of a plethora of goods becomes a problem – space and invested capital, for others, getting a steady flow of customers for such bulk deals is challenging. Because a deal-hungry customer will rarely repeat the website. He will buy wherever he gets the best discount. Some websites, perhaps got lost in translation and got their priorities mixed up of who their main focus was – the merchant or the end consumer! Many of these websites accepted that the cost of getting a consumer ran much higher than the revenue that he generated for them.

Both the approaches had their merits, but none balanced the scale well enough, and thus, failed.

So, how could GroupDrop differentiate itself from the others?

First and foremost, GroupDrop, as a concept, stringently steered clear of mass products – low end items that are offered dime a dozen on a host of other websites. The founders were very specific on the kind of products they wanted to offer the customers. It would have to be big ticket products that customers wouldn’t normally get a deal on. They would also have to ensure that the cost of inventory is minimized while genuinely interested customers get the deal they desire. In addition, they had to ensure the website is interactive, informative, engaging and keeps customers coming back, either to buy more or to advise fellow customers.

Thus began the ideation of a holistic business model that would safeguard the interest of the merchants while empowering the customers to get the deals of choice. And this had to be achieved, also, while keeping in mind the basic desire to succeed and proliferate as a business idea.

Welcome to GroupDrop!

More for less and even more for even lesser – that’s how volume discounts work. In other words, a volume discount is the incentive offered to the buyer by the seller that decreases the cost per unit when purchased in greater numbers! This generally works on either side. The seller is able to clear his inventory faster and the buyer gets a favorable price for the goods. For example, a single cotton t-shirt may cost you Rs. 400, but when you buy a pack of 3, it costs you Rs. 900!

In 2010, a group of 150 businessmen from a quaint little town of Aurangabad got together and decided to purchase a Mercedes Benz each! Aurangabad, a small Indian town, shook the world with this move. This was so big, that Wilfried Aulbur, who was then the Managing Director and CEO of Mercedes Benz India went down along with his senior management team and handed over a few of them personally! About a year later, the same dealer, received an order for a hundred and eighty Mercedes Benz cars, this time, from Kolhapur – another small but affluent town in Maharashtra famous most for their Sugar factories.

An order of such magnitude has the potential to tilt the odds heavily in the buyers favour. In the case of the Mercedes deal, the consumers not only demanded more than a 10% discount on the price (INR 400,000 to INR 1,000,000 savings depending on the model) but also a lot more including a service centre in Kolhapur and a 50% discount on vehicle insurance.

This was years ago, and the world forgot, but our founders did not. Learning from the success of the above deals, they decided to create an online portal that was neither dependant on a particular place nor on a set group of people, but available to consumers across the country. A portal that will empower all individuals to form communities, discuss and share ideas and products, and buy said products at heavily discounted prices!

Welcome to Groupdrop.