Enter DealsGoRound and CoupRecoup, sites designed to be Craigslist-like marketplaces for groupons, a generic derivation of deals-pioneer Groupon.com used to describe online deals for services like spa days and restaurant visits. The notion behind the sites is the same: People rush into buying deals that seem too hot to miss, but their purchases end up sitting around unused until they expire. Now, instead of watching their spur-of-the-moment groupons fade away, consumers can turn into sellers in the second-hand groupon market. (Groupon CEO Andrew Mason had no comment when FastCompany.com asked what he thinks of these second-hand marketplace sites.)
The potential for success of groupon sites comes from the way the deals are presented. Groupons are limited in number and time: A new offer appears—and then disappears—on each deal site every day (the deals vary for different cities). The fact that these deals are for services—things that don’t exist—only adds to their mysterious appeal.
Like Groupon, DealsGoRound and CoupRecoup tap into the desire to save money on something you might not even know you wanted in the first place. Since these sites are second-hand markets, they can advertise double savings—the discount of the original groupon, plus the lower reselling value.
The sites also depend on people making impulsive decisions—and then regretting them. "It's more of a shopping experience than a must-act-now kind of thing," says Aren Sandersen, co-founder of CoupRecoup. His month-old site, started in San Francisco, now covers nine cities and draws about 50 to 100 posts a week.
In the fast-paced world of Internet businesses, DealsGoRound is a old-timer. Founder Kris Petersen launched the site in March after he bought groupons for a Segway tour of Chicago and didn't get a chance to use them. He wanted to create an "open market for buying and reselling" groupons. DealsGoRound is available in 53 cities, though availability doesn’t determine content; if no one posts deals in a city, no one can buy there either.
Both sites still depend on the founders' Internet influence for marketing. Petersen readily calls CoupRecoup a competitor, but reminds us that DealsGoRound hit the Internet first. "I think we're still the leader in this space," he says. The Chicago-based site is in 53 cities in the U.S., Canada, and London.
Sandersen focuses on anecdotes when describing how well his site is catching on. "I've actually had guy friends tell me that they've gone on there looking for good date ideas," he says. And his lady friends? Well, they use the site to find good massage deals.
The question remains: Are regretful impulse purchases enough to power an entire marketplace, or will these sites go the way of Petersen's overzealous Segway-tour purchase?