Kapil Ohri

The Times of India group launches daily deals website, Timesdeal.com

The daily deals website market is expected to become more intense and competitive with the entry of a big player such as The Times of India.

Times Internet, the digital arm of Bennett Coleman & Company (BCCL), has launched a daily deals site named Timesdeal.com. The site went live on April 29.

Currently, the site is offering daily deals such as group guitar lessons, dental consultation and unlimited food offers in six cities (Delhi and NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Pune and Chennai).

The Times of India group launches daily deals website, Timesdeal.com
The official spokesperson has clarified that there are no immediate plans to launch operations in other cities. He says, "We are starting with the six major cities. Once we develop a model we are happy with, we will see if we can extend it further."

With the launch of Timesdeal.com, The Times of India group has become another entrant in the daily deals business, which is already overcrowded with players offering undifferentiated services and operating on low volumes of daily deal coupon sales (See, Are group buying websites overhyped in India?).

There are more than 25 daily deals sites currently operating in the country, including Snapdeal.com, Dealsandyou.com and Taggle.com. Interestingly, in the past four months, several big players have entered this space. In January, one of the world's leading daily deals sites, Groupon.com, entered India with the acquisition of SoSasta.com. Prominent e-commerce player eBay.in also started its group buying business. Last month, horizontal portal Rediff.com jumped into the daily deals market with the launch of Deal Ho Jaye in 40 cities. Info Edge (Naukri.com) committed an investment of Rs 9 crore in the group buying site named MyDala.com.

Though the official spokesperson did not clarify how BCCL will differentiate its offering and daily deals services, it seems obvious that the Times Group will leverage its media power and its properties to drive traffic, build brand, advertise and disseminate information about the daily deals offered by them. "We also have a few product ideations which will come out in the next one-two months, which are different from what's out there today," says the official spokesperson.

It will be interesting to watch how Times Internet scales its group buying business, especially considering the fact that it is self-funded, unlike other leading daily deals sites such as Snapdeal.com and Dealsandyou.com (which are funded by venture capital firms).

For the uninitiated, a group buying or daily deals website presents a huge "discount deal of the day" every day on lifestyle-related services such as restaurants and hotel accommodations. The site works on the concept of hyper-local and collective bargaining. It usually presents deals to its members in their nearby areas. Thus, different deals are offered to members based on the locations from where they log on to the site.

The discount deals are usually opened for certain durations. To avail a discount, members first have to express interest in the deal of the day. However, whether they get the discount deal or not is a function of the number of members who show their interest in the deal. The deal can be availed by members only when a specified number of members (critical mass) apply for it.

Daily deals websites earn revenue from commissions on coupon sales. Most industry players charge 8-20 per cent of the total coupon value as sales commission in India.

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