Groupon has controlled the “local bargains” market for some time now, so it’s exciting to see a big name like Amazon step up as a competitor with its Amazon Local service. But is Amazon able to compete?
In this article, I will test and analyze both services – Groupon and Amazon Local – using a defined list of metrics that I consider to be the most important for people who are looking for fun local things to do or buy at steep discounts. These metrics are:
- Volume: How many listings are available to browse through?
- Value: How good are the available discounts?
- Convenience: How quick and easy is it to buy and use the coupons?
- Variety: Do available discounts update frequently, or stay the same all the time?
If you’ve read my recent article about the future viability of Groupon, then you know that I’ve been using Groupon for some time, and I generally like the service. However, I like deals more – and if Amazon can beat Groupon in all of the above areas, I would switch in a heartbeat, and I bet you would too.
Volume of Deals
While I’m used to using Groupon, Amazon was new to me, so I was pretty excited to see what kind of local deals it had to offer. Amazon is like its Daily Deals offering, but with geography thrown in.
I was pretty excited to see that a search for local business deals in Portland, Maine yielded 172 listings, each category with several pages to browse through.
Of course, by contrast, a search in Groupon for local deals in Portland, Maine yields 870 listings, with a convenient menu breaking down the categories of listings.
Right out of the gate, it’s pretty clear that Amazon has nowhere near the volume of deals that Groupon offers, at least taking a comparison of deals in the Northeast U.S. under consideration. It’s possible this could be different in other parts of the world, but that’s not very likely, because the Groupon deals aren’t only centered on highly populated areas like cities, while Amazon’s listings have not yet spread out into smaller communities in the same way.
In this category, Groupon wins by a landslide.
The Better Value
Searching through Amazon for good deals can turn up some great finds, but there are very few of these amazing deals buried among many more not-so-wonderful deals.
Two hours of bowling for 10 people, including a pizza for only $49 is an impressive bargain. At the same time, on Amazon you’ll find other deals that aren’t really that great. Not to mention there are a bunch of non-local deals mixed in with local deals (in this case, Amazon might have confused Portland, ME with Portland, OR).
At the same time, there are just so many remarkable deals on Groupon that it’s difficult to really compare with Amazon’s listings. For every one great local deal you find at Amazon, there are probably three or four at Groupon just as good or better. It’s rare you’ll find a 40% to 50$ discount on Amazon, while Groupon has them all over the place.
Where else can you get a $76 meal at an awesome restaurant for only $38? There’s just no beating that.
And even when it comes to traveling deals, Groupon has a much wider variety of choices, at much steeper discounts.
If you try to do the same travel bargain research at Amazon, the listings just looks like it’s a Travelocity or Orbitz clone.
In fact, I found that many of the prices offered via Amazon Destinations were the same as if you booked the room right from the hotel website without any discounts at all.
With discounts of 20 to 30% or more, Groupon wins in the travel category (and the value comparison) hands down.
One area where Amazon offers a nice alternative is the fact that most Amazon deals don’t expire the paid value of the purchase when you buy a deal there..
This is pretty important when you’re talking about buying deals that you may want to use months from when you buy them. What if you forget about the deal and it expires? More often than not, on Groupon, the purchase disappears from your listings and expires – you lose not only the deal, but the money you used to buy it. With Amazon, most listings show “PAID VALUE DOES NOT EXPIRE”. That’s nice.
You can find that sometimes on Groupon as well, but not often.
Another big benefit to using Amazon to shop for local deals is that it’s tightly integrated with your Amazon or Amazon Prime account, so one-click purchasing is available and really fast.
Groupons generally always expire, and sometimes even within just a few months of your purchase, making purchasing many Groupons at once a very stressful experience.
For all of the reasons above, Amazon beats Groupon when it comes to convenience and peace of mind.
Wider Variety of Deals
One thing that’s nice on Groupon is that local deals are really local deals. Unfortunately, on Amazon there are a lot more annoying non-local promotions in the “local deal” listings:
In fact, Amazon seems to try and boost its listing numbers by using non-local online deals. So when you see that there are 6 or 7 pages of local listings for the shopping & services category for example, be aware that nearly half of those could be annoying online listings, not local stores.
However, there are some categories where Amazon seems to pull through okay, such as the Health & Beauty category, where Amazon offers a greater variety of excellent deals. This may be due to the fact that there are just more opportunities for discounts from local businesses in this category, but regardless of the reason – Amazon is a pretty good place to turn if you need a massage or a haircut at a steeply discounted price.
However, the strong volume of deals in a few categories doesn’t make up for Amazon’s overuse of promotional listings from what appear to be advertisers. Those listings make the search results appear large than they really are, and very misleading.
Groupon, on the other hand, truly has hundreds of local deals available. Even though not all of the deals are hugely discounted, and even though some of the of the same businesses keep turning up again and again, for the most part Groupon offers a much larger variety of choices when you’re searching for local deals.
I have to admit that I started out writing this head-to-head comparison hoping that Groupon would lose. I always root for the underdog. However, it doesn’t take long when comparing the two to see that Amazon’s Local Deals offering has a very long way to go before it can topple Groupon’s reign as king in this area.
Do you use Groupon a lot? Have you tried using Amazon Local Deals yet, and if so, what do you think? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below!