Note: Due to the age of this post as well as the evolution of the Groupon clone/aggregator system, RJH Solutions will no longer offer support for these systems. The “writing on the wall” was seen when Groupon’s CEO was fired early 2013. In the meantime, please continue browsing the rest of the site. -Rafi
Groupon has been incredibly successful as a business model, as it had been offered a significant amount of money by Google and they turned them down! An Israeli company, Grouper, was offered something like $15 million. As a result, many niche groupon clones have emerged.
Most of these clones use a piece of software from off-shore locations like India and China. This post will cut to the bottom line about some of the most popular softwares out there.
This post covers Contus’ GroupClone, AlstraSoft, Agriya, Couponic, GetSocio, and GroupScript.net. This also addresses what I find as limitations with each script, a buyer beware disclaimer, and my experience with Off-Shore companies in general.
Contus is an India-based company that has built it’s software on Magento’s shopping cart platform. Since it’s based on a well-established shopping cart, it’s incredibly stable and secure. Not only that, but if support cannot be found at the Contus website, some Google searching on Magento forums will generally yield satisfactory results. Not to mention that there are more plugins for Magento than any other shopping cart.
The down sides are that a) it’s fairly difficult to install straight out-of-the-box (ionCube needs to be installed, b) it requires a minimum version of PHP 5.2 installed, and c) it, like Magento, runs slow on shared hosts and requires a dedicated host to load normally. Also, GroupClone is not a plugin. Rather, it’s a mutation of Magento. Once installed, though, it runs well.
After working on a few Groupon Clone websites with Contus GroupClone installations, I found out that this software too has its share of bugs. I also found that, while they usually are very responsive in their ticketing system to simple changes and requests, the larger problems will usually receive responses like “we are looking into this (a not getting back),” “That feature (bug fix) is not available in our installation. Please contact business development for customization changes,” or “look at our forums.”
Bottom line, I fully support the script as it’s built on Magento, but for “full” Magento support, it’s recommended to contact a more local agency specializing in Magento for many obvious reasons. Love the script, don’t so-much-like the support or various bugs found within.
Price: $500 plus $400 custom home page design.
Note: there’s an alternate website, called bestgrouponclone.com, that markets the same software at $100 less. Warning: this site is a scam as a certain Javad Farooq purchased the script and he had essentially hacked the script to sell for cheaper. You get no support, and he takes “Western Union” or “Moneygram,” both red flags.
AlstraSoft is a China-based company that produces another poor-man’s GroupClone software (example: dealdipp.com). It’s demo presentation is impressive, however, there are many bugs. Included are:
- Adding cities is a pain and generally ineffective.
- WYSIWYG editor doesn’t allow for plain text.
- Cities are difficult to add when using a different character set.
- When adding a website, you need to type in “http://” before the website, otherwise it doesn’t work.
Price: $178, but a 15% discount coupon code is available by typing in “AS15.”
Agriya is an India-based company. It’s groupon clone script looks clean from the front-end, yet the back-end is cumbersome. Problems include sending coupons to everyone.
The script is built with the CakePHP framework.
Price: Varies. Plus, they charge “through the roof” for every little change.
Couponic is a Russian-based company that has a nice front-end, but a less-than-intuitive back-end. This script is built on the “Yii” framework (http://www.yiiframework.com/), which is not the most commonly used.
Price: $200 base price, $35 for each add-on.
GetSocio is a script where you let them do all the work and you’re essentially renting Groupon services from them. Short-term it makes sense, but not long term.
I recently was notified that a number of people have utilized GetSocio’s services, as it’s already hosted and quick to set up. The concept behind it is that, the more you grow, the more they should grow as well. Makes sense. While I personally am an advocate of one owning ones code, others apparently don’t care just so long as they get a site up and running quickly. And, it’s reported to be stable, so I have nothing negative to say about their functionality.
Subscription fee: $15/month (first month is free)
Transaction fee: 5% of buyer payments.
GroupScript is a Bulgaria-based company that sells a groupon clone. The back-end interface looks simple and intuitive like WordPress, but when digging deeper one sees a lot of technical limitations and over-simplicity. The front-end drop-down cities menu looks amateurish compared to its competitors.
Limitations with each script
One limitation I have seen is that, once you buy someone else’s script, you’re at the mercy of these off-shore developers.
Another one that I’ve seen is that each of these scripts are limited to only one currency. Should you want to expand globally and use different currencies, you’re stuck and you need to basically re-create the script on a new domain/subdomain, which is a pain.
Also, should you want to have multiple language versions of a site each of these scripts out-of-the-box don’t support that.
Finally, save for Contus which is based on Magento’s shopping cart, your choice of payment processors is limited. You can add more processors at an additional fee.
Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware)
Buyer Beware: one of the most common trends I’ve seen with each script is that, once you pay for a script, you can’t get your money back. Their reasoning is logical: one you downloaded the code you can use it or redistribute it without the seller’s consent. So if you’re unhappy with the script, you’re stuck.
Off-Shore Experience in General
In general, my experience with off-shore companies has been dual-sided. On one hand you will pay a fraction of what you would pay in the United States or Canada, but at a price. For one thing, the hours difference is huge. To call India during support hours, for example, you need to be up from 1 AM to 9 AM in EST time zone. That’s a big issue when you need to get up for work the next day.
Another is that, while people in India and China know English, they don’t speak the same language. English is not their first language, and there can be serious miscommunication. You generally need to illustrate your problems with screenshots describing any issues you have.
The best solution is custom. Build one from scratch, utilize a framework or go with a CMS like Drupal which can be customized for about anything.
Hope this helps.
Read the next section which covers Wroupon, Daily Deal Builder, and EponWare’s EponGroup.