We all love hot deals but sometimes it can be hard to get what we want at a discount price. Enter the world of group-buying sites. It’s a way of getting a discount when a large number of people commit to the sale. There are loads of websites that organise these discounts and send them straight to your inbox. All you have to do is pick the deal.
Here’s all you need to know about how group-buying deals work.
- What are group-buying deals?
- What deals can you get?
- Are they genuine?
- How do you use the sites?
- Which group-buying sites should you join?
- Are they worth it?
Did you know about our fab article on Luxury for less? It’s packed with links to sites where you can enjoy a decadent lifestyle on a budget. You’ll find everything from five-star holidays to gorgeous designer lingerie.
Group-buying sites are basically discount websites. If you sign up, you get deals on pretty much everything – from theatre shows, to meals out at swanky restaurants and even health spa breaks.
Simply sign up to get their emailed offers. Sometimes they’re daily deals, sometimes just a couple of times a week, depending on the company. Then if enough people sign up to the offer, it’ll go ahead. If not, the deal gets cancelled. So if there’s a deal you really want, it might help to invite some friends to make up the numbers.
These sites can offer discount deals by means of the power of the group-buying strategy. In the same way that restaurants may provide a discount on a meal for a large party, certain companies will provide a discount on their services if the sites get enough people signed up to the deal. As they’re guaranteed the custom, companies are happy to offer a discount.
Currently the sites only organise deals within large cities (London obviously, but some of them also do other places like Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh). They separate their deals by city so you can search for the ones nearest you. As there’s usually a new offer every day, you’re likely find something you’re interested in at least once a month.
Many sites offer a ‘deal of the day’ along with longer-running offers. You’ll be surprised at the range of deals. Pretty much anything and everything will feature at some time or another.
Theatre trips, restaurant meals, vouchers for concerts and discounted hair and beauty treatments are pretty common. But you’ll also find things like hot air balloon trips, golf tutoring, dental treatments, photographic prints, paintball sessions, photoshoots, chocolate-making classes, car valets and dancing classes!
Yes. Certainly the ones we have included in this article are. The reason they can offer such good deals is not just that they use the power of group-buying (although that’s the main one). It’s really because there are loads of restaurants, spas, beauticians and the like that really need the custom. The credit crunch has been (and continues to be) very tough on a lot of businesses and many are looking around for ways to get more ‘bums on seats’.
As you’re already aware, many restaurants, attractions and luxury businesses have been doing 2-for-1 offers, discount vouchers, money-off deals etc for a while to entice us through their doors. This is another way that they can guarantee themselves a load more customers. In many cases it’s worth their while offering deals where profit is minimal or even make a loss on the deal. Once they get you in they’ll do their very best to cross sell to you (offer you other things that you’ll need to pay full price for) or upsell to you (try to get you to go for a more expensive deal instead).
Be aware that you might get this when you take up the deal. Try not to be sold to and you’ll save more money.
Every site runs in a similar way. To take advantage of the deals, first of all you have to become a member and sign up. It’s a free process. So long as you don’t mind getting extra emails every day, it’s probably worth signing up for all of them as they all come up with different deals.
Most sites will let you view deals without signing up first so you get an idea of what they offer. Others require you to set up a membership first.
When the deals come into your inbox, you can just scan them and decide whether you’re interested or not. All deals have a time limit in which to buy them – usually that day. So you need to make sure you subscribe to the purchase before the time runs out.
Most sites will allow you to pay by credit or debit card, or by PayPal. You’ll need to enter these details when you sign up as payment is automatic once the number of buyers has been reached.
You’ll only be charged for the deal once it has met the required minimum number of sales. In other words, if enough people sign up to it then the deal goes through and you’ll be charged. You’ll find out (probably the next day) if that has happened. If the deal doesn’t reach the number, it’ll be cancelled and you won’t be charged.
Once the deal closes, you’ll be sent a printable voucher for your offer via email which you can then redeem. Don’t forget that most offers have an expiry date. Also, most require you to make a booking or reservation.
Group-buying is becoming hugely popular and there are now loads of sites you can use. We’ve compiled some short reviews of some of the better-known ones to let you know their pros and cons and what they can offer.
Best for a super social life
KGB Deals have a wide range of offers but are especially strong on nights out. They’ve got loads of great deals to spice up your social life, from discounts on fine dining to rib-tickling comedy nights.
KGB are great if you’re stuck for ideas with a special event such as Mother’s Day approaching. You can give a loved one a really special treat without breaking the bank.
To get involved, all you need to do is register for KGB’s daily emails and you’re then free to start taking advantage of their offers. If you get your friends in on the act, KGB will reward you with loyalty points which can be put towards future deals. If you save up enough you could swipe an offer for free!
MoneyMagpie rating: *****
Best for homeware
The MoneyMagpie readers are really keen on Dealtastic. They mainly offer limited time-only deals so you’ve got to be quick.
Dealtastic have some fab offers on lovely homeware items such as cool retro clocks for your kitchen and energy-saving products to dramatically reduce your electricity and water bills. In these hard times, we could all use a bit of help there!
If you narrowly miss out on a fab offer, don’t despair. Dealtastic have a new deal every single day!
MoneyMagpie rating: ****
Best for luxury holidays
Voyage Prive is a free members-only site offering hand-picked luxury holidays discounted by up to 70%. Holidays range from world-class spa breaks to all-inclusive exotic island retreats, with every holiday being 4* or 5* bliss and relaxation! Fresh deals are added on a weekly basis. But they don’t stick around for long.
So sign up to enjoy fabulous once-in-a-lifetime holidays with Voyage Prive.
MoneyMagpie rating: ****
Best for theatre and cinema
Groupon is a firm MoneyMagpie favourite. It promotes the best deals from across the UK depending on the location you select. The site has great offers on things to see, do and eat as well as more unusual deals such as cosmetic surgery discounts.
Groupon focuses on one main offer but it’s always worth checking the ‘more deals’ section where you’ll find some real gems.
Once you’ve signed up to Groupon – for free – you can recommend as many friends as you like. If any of them go on to sign up, you’ll get £6 for each one who does. The money will be credited to your account so you can use it towards your next purchase on the site.
MoneyMagpie rating: ****
Best for health & beauty
Treatwell specialises in health and beauty deals. You’ll find offers such as facials, massage, manicures, spa breaks, haircuts and all sorts of weird and wonderful beauty treatments.
The fantastic thing about it is that it also offers free deals – like gym passes, personal training sessions, pilates and reflexology sessions and even burlesque dance classes! There’s a whole range of free offers but be careful what you go for – a lot of them are simply consultations for things like botox, teeth whitening and cosmetic surgery. You’re not going to get your fine lines removed for free.
You can search for deals in your region by clicking on the map if the daily deal doesn’t take your fancy. The site also offers spa breaks in France and Italy but these are more holiday bookings than discount deals, so stick to the UK for the real bargains. You can, however, use the site as a how-to health and beauty guide. Got a question? Post it online and you’ll be notified by email when another user offers their advice.
As with Groupon, each deal is timed and the site will announce when the deal has tipped. You can’t refer friends though, so you’re really counting on others buying the deal as well.
MoneyMagpie rating: ***
Best for days out
Wowcher features some really nice deals and a good range of fun things. These include spa breaks, paintballing, afternoon teas, meals out, museum trips, beauty treatments, cinema tickets and more. The chances are you’ll come across something that appeals. They’re particularly strong on days out and attractions, so it’s a great site if you’re looking for a weekend activity.
Every day the website runs one new deal which is sent to your inbox. They don’t offer any incentives (i.e. money) for you getting a bunch of your friends to join, but then the more people that buy the deal the more likely it is to go ahead, so you’re still on to a winner. The website for this one is also excellent. It presents the deals clearly, with good descriptions of what will happen on the day. You can read reviews of past deals to get a feel for whether or not the company offers good experiences. Again, though, make sure you book quickly, as all the previous deals we viewed had expired so there’s no real chance of you bagging a last-minute bargain.
MoneyMagpie rating: ***
If you like to grab a bargain, these sites are definitely worth a go. The good thing is that new deals are added every day but you’re not overloaded with offers. You shouldn’t be tempted to sign up to too many than are good for you.
Don’t sign up to an offer just because it’s offering a good discount, though. Half price off a skydiving session sounds great but if you’re afraid of heights it’s just a waste of money. And keep in mind that you’ll be charged as soon as the offer reaches its minimum number of buyers. Only commit to the offer if you’re happy to pay for it.
Don’t be put off by the fact that you have to register your payment details in order to take advantage of any deals. Your information is safe. If you encounter any problems, just deactivate your account immediately.
There’s always the chance that a deal will be cancelled. Increase your chances of it going ahead – and make some money with some of the sites – by referring friends to the deals.
If you’re worried about getting hoards of emails in your inbox every day, set up a separate account (say a free one with Hotmail or Yahoo) and use that for your deals. Just remember, that most deals only last for that day so if you don’t get to it in time you could miss it.
All in all, group-buying sites are a goldmine for bargain hunters. We recommend that you sign up to all of them to get your choice of great offers every day.
If you like the sound of group-buying sites, you’ll love our article on cashback sites! You could redeem hundreds of pounds every year by shopping through them.