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Group-Buying Tutorial

Eversave - Share the Save

This is a quick course in group buying. First, the basics, then my opinion about each of the listed sites.

Groupon and its copycats (Eversave, Living Social, CityDeals, Mamapedia, Plum District, Tippr, TheMiniSocial, FamilyFinds, Zulily, HauteLook,,, SaveMore, BuyWithMe, OneKingsLane Gilt Groupe Deal Pulp Rue La La, etc.) are now a huge on-line presence. The idea is that a merchant will offer a deeply discounted price on something if enough people sign up for it. There is rarely a question of getting enough people, and almost every deal works. Or a site will offer a line of high-end products, usually clothing, for a set time of 2-3 days - the early bird gets the worm. As everyone jumps on the group buying bandwagon, there are some fine points to consider:

* Before you buy a Groupon or any other voucher for $20 off $40, let’s say, be sure you visit the merchant website where you’ll be spending that $40 and make sure there is something you specifically want. Some of the merchants featured are small and relatively unknown. You might think that buying a $50 voucher for a shoe site, for example, would insure that you can get a pair of shoes for $50. But if you check the site, you might be surprised to find that every shoe is over $100. Do your homework first, and make sure that you’ll be happy when you redeem your voucher. Most are good-to-great deals, but don’t have buyer's remorse after purchasing because you didn’t check it out first. Take your time. Most vouchers are available for purchase for 1-2 days.

* Is free shipping included? Sometimes the offer includes the stipulation that

  • the item will ship free (the best option), or
  • you can pay for the shipping with part of the voucher (good), or
  • standard shipping rates apply (not so good). If it’s the latter, check to see what standard shipping rates are.

Some sites have high shipping; I think they make up for the discounts by overcharging on shipping. Calculate the shipping cost as part of your out-of-pocket expense to see if it’s still a good deal.

* Check how long the deal is good for. Most vouchers are good for a year, but some are as short-dated as a month or two. Be sure you can use the voucher in the time period.

* Sometimes the good deal isn’t so good because you have to spend at least the amount of the voucher to use it. I spent $10 to get a $20 voucher to a children’s toy site. I wanted a $19.99 toy. The system wouldn’t take my voucher until I hit the $20 mark. Unfortunately, the cheapest toy to get me over the hurdle was $7.95, plus I had to pay shipping. Had I known, I wouldn’t have bought the voucher. Currently, it is rarely listed in the fine print of any deal that you have to spend at least the face value of the voucher. If you are unhappy, you can go back to Groupon and request a refund of your original $10 and simply not do the deal. The sites I found so far, that require you to spend the whole amount to use it, are Knork, No Slippy Clippy, and ImagiPLAY. There will be others.

* Vouchers must be used in one transaction. Balances are not carried. What you don't use, you lose.

* Keep informed. All the sites have an email sign-up for a daily update of what is offered. The emails are an easy way to take a quick look without having to log in. If it's something that interests you, click through the email to read the details of the deal. Most deals are offered for 1-2 days.

* Vouchers are available at the group-buying website after purchasing. When you buy a Groupon voucher, you pay for it with a credit card. The money goes to Groupon. In a day or two, the voucher will appear in your account at Groupon. You print it and take it to the local business where it is accepted like cash. If it's for an on-line merchant, there will be a code on the voucher that you enter on-line as you check out. The business actually only gets about half of the voucher. For example, if you pay $10 for a $20 voucher for a restaurant, the restaurant gets half the money you paid, $5. The other $5 goes to the group buying site. You might think it's not fair that the restaurant only gets $5 but gives you $20 in food. Keep in mind that this is a very effective means of advertising and a way to get new customers. Merchants are happy to participate, and hope you'll be back to pay full price the next time.

* Refer your friends and family. Almost every group buying site has a referral credit which you receive for sending someone to the site who buys something. The referral fee is generally $5 - $10 in credit. To get it, you’ll need to register first for your own account, then click on ‘refer a friend’. Copy the special URL that is yours alone. Email it to friends with your recommendation. Post it on your Facebook page. Tweet it. You don’t need to worry that Groupon is a lemon or a scam. It’s such a huge success that it is valued at $2.5 billion. It will be around for many years to come. When someone buys something, you’ll see $5 or $10 in your account. Then when you buy something, that $5 or $10 will be deducted from the price you pay.

* There are often sign-up bonuses when you first register at a site. Those may eventually disappear as the sites no longer need word-of-mouth. If you haven't joined these, it's worth doing now for the best chance of getting a free sign-up bonus: Groupon, Eversave, Living Social, CityDeals, Mamapedia, Plum District, TheMiniSocial, Tippr,  The bonus will be applied to your first purchase.

I will continue to post what I consider the best deals from the group buying sites, but everyone should explore their own city deals. Most of the Groupon deals are specific to location. Some are on-line. Everyone can do on-line deals no matter where you live.

Here is a rundown of the various sites:


Groupon is the granddaddy of the group buying sites. It is very professionally run. If you ever have a problem with any Groupon voucher, they will make it right. There are plenty of cities listed in every state. Most of the Groupon deals are local. Restaurant certificates are generally offered at half face value, so you get $30 in buying power for $15. Some deals are nationwide, like the Gap offer last year. If you find an on-line deal offered in a different city, the location doesn't matter, all can do it. Some of the popular on-line deals so far have been from Picaboo, ScanDigital, ColdwaterCreek, American Apparel, and many others. Most Groupon deals are offered as the featured deal for one day. Then they often rotate to a 'side deal' in the right column, and may stay there another 2-3 days. Groupon gives a $10 referral credit when you send others who buy something.
To find additional cities at Groupon, log in. Your own city  name will appear in the upper middle green area. Next to the name is a small white down arrow. Click that arrow to find a state directory, then town directory.
There are sites that have sprung up that track Groupon deals and will alert you each morning to the long list by city. Google "Groupon Alerts".


EversaveEversave - Share the Save

Eversave features mostly on-line deals from smaller merchants. There are lots of vouchers for jewelry, clothing, makeup, home accessories, florists, photobooks, purses, etc. Most vouchers give double the selling price, like a $50 voucher for $25. Often the website merchants featured on Eversave are innovative and creative. They offer unique items not widely available elsewhere. It's worth a daily look. You can sign up for a daily email geared to your city. Eversave offers a $12 referral fee when you send someone who purchases a voucher. After you register, click on "Share Eversave with your Friends" in the top right column of the home page to get your unique URL. Eversave


Living Social offers a mix of on-line and local deals. It's similar to Groupon. To find additional deals, click on the "More Deals" tab in the left column, then scroll down. Living Social offers a $5 referral reward when someone uses your link. Click on "My account", then on "Deal Bucks", then on "Invite More friends" to get your unique URL.


City Deals
CityDeals offers almost all local deals for various parts of the country. There are tabs for Restaurants, Entertainment, Spa & Salons, Services, Hotel & Travel, Retail. Enter your town and a radius in miles. All the available deals will appear on a list, often over 100 of them. But as you go down the list, you'll see that some are not available. If there is one you want, you can request an email be sent to you when it becomes available. This site takes a lot of exploring to see what's there. There are pages and pages of deals. Most are 50% discounts at local merchants, fast food, restaurants, salons, etc.



Mamapedia is geared to mothers. The first time you visit Mamapedia, click on the "Sweet Deals" at the top of the page. Most deals are 50% off and feature children's clothes and toys, eco-friendly green items, mom-type products, etc. The majority of deals are on-line so location isn't important. You can choose a local school to get a 1% bonus from your purchases. Invite friends and earn $10 per referral.

Plum District

Plum District is very similar to MamaPedia. Most of the offerings are 50% off, and are geared to mothers and children, specially children's clothes and toys. If you have young children or school age children, this site will be of interest to you. Websites featured are smaller specialty websites. It is broken down by regions, but the first choice is "Everywhere".  PlumDistrict offers a $10 referral credit.



TheMiniSocial is also geared to mom, baby, and child. It's a little different format. Instead of offering a single voucher per day, it offers discounted products for 3-4 days. The products come from various high-end designers and are greatly reduced in price. Most are children and baby clothing. Invite friends and get a $10 credit when someone buys something. Shipping is a flat $6.95.  The products do sell out so it's worth checking often.



Zulily has the same format at TheMiniSocial. The children and baby clothing lines change every 2-3 days. You have a short window to buy, and some of the items do sell out. All items are from upscale designers. Shipping starts at $5.95 and goes up about a $1 for each additional item purchased. You can invite friends with your special URL, and you will get $15 in credit when someone buys something. The credit is used for your own orders and can be applied to shipping. Zulily merchandise is high quality.

NoMoreRack has a unique format. Each day at noon Eastern time, 8 deals are posted. They are deeply discounted. Some sell out in a matter of minutes, others last the full day. Once you put an item in your cart, you only have 15 minutes to check out and pay. If not, the item goes back up for sale. You can sign up for a daily email that gives you a ten minute heads up before the deals go live. You get a $10 off $20 credit for signing up, and NoMoreRack has contests offering prizes for referring friends, even if they don't buy anything. All the friend has to do is register.



HauteLook focuses most on young women, especially clothes and jewelry, but there are deals for everyone, even travel deals. The format is the same as Zulily and TheMiniSocial.  Each day there are new designers featured with a selection of their products. All are discounted. This site has a lot of variety. The tabs across the top say: "Women", "Beauty", "Living", "Kids", "Men", "Getaways" You get $10 in credit for every person who signs up and buys. The credit can be used for anything on the site, including shipping, which is about $7.95.



FamilyFinds focuses on family deals, children's clothes, family oriented activities and services, both local and on-line deals. You get $10 in credit for every person who signs up and buys. I'm still getting a feel for this site.


RueLaLa is geared to the younger crowd. The designer lines offered change daily. Categories are: Women, Men, Home, Travel, Food & Wine. There is a $10 store credit reward for referring someone who buys something.

Gilt categories are: Women, Men, Home, Children, Gifts, Jetsetter, City. The site is designed to look upscale and is more expensive than others. Deals last a few days. Gilt Invite 10 friends and get free shipping on your next order (ho hum)

HomeSav HomeSav
HomeSav specializes with items for the home.