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Rocket Internet Backed Cuponation Launches Indian Operations

CupoNation, a Gurgaon-based deals and coupon website, has launched its operations in the country. What’s interesting about this venture, is that it appears that it’s backed by the German startup incubator Rocket Internet.

While the company doesn’t mention its Rocket Internet affiliation on its website nor does Rocket Internet mention the company among its ventures, the Cuponation’s whois domain record suggests that it is owned by Rocket Internet. A company release also mentions that the venture is backed by International investors.

Offerings: Cuponation offers discount coupons, vouchers and deals across various product categories like Electronics, Books, Apparels, Flowers, and Gifts and services like Insurance, Restaurants, and Movies among others. The company claims to offer a discount of about 60% on these products and intends to become India’s largest coupon portal.

Aggregating Coupons From Other E-tailers: When we checked the website, we observed that the site was aggregating coupons from various e-commerce shops like Snapdeal, SeventyMM, Expedia, Myntra, Naaptol, Pepperfry, Dominos Pizza, Cleartrip, eBay India, Ibibo, Healthkart.com among others. It also includes coupons from various Rocket Internet ventures in the country like Jabong, Fab Furnish and FoodPanda.

One can browse through various coupons listed on the homepage, or select any specific category like Electronics, Fashion & Apparel, Home & Living, Travel, Jewelry, Restaurants and others, from a drop down menu in the navigation bar on the top. In addition, the navigation bar also offers a ‘Top 20 coupons’ section which lists the most popular coupons on the portal and an ‘All Stores’ section which allows one to browse through various stores alphabetically. The site also offers a keyword based search box which allows one to search for coupons for any specific online store.

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In select categories like Electronics and Fashion, we also noticed that Cuponation is showcasing few coupons as ‘Editor’s Pick’, although we are not sure of the criterion used for choosing these coupons. On clicking on any of the coupon listings, we were redirected to the respective site to avail the offer. So, we believe that the company makes money through affiliate commission from these portals.

Yet Another Clone? While Rocket Internet is known for cloning startups and aggressively marketing it to the users, we observed that Cuponation doesn’t offer anything different from other coupon aggregation sites like CouponDunia, RetailMeNot and Desidime among others. It just looks like Rocket Internet saw a lucrative opportunity in couponing business model and wanted to have a piece of it for itself.

The company claimed that one of its advantages is that users will not have to sign up to access these coupon codes or deals, however, we noticed that majority of the coupon sites including the above mentioned coupon sites allows unregistered users to access the coupon codes on their sites.

Another point worth noting is that offering coupons is not tough for online portals since various companies keep looking for such distribution platforms to distribute discount coupons. In conversation with Medianama, MobiKwik co-founder, Upasana Taku, had claimed that MobiKwik had managed to tie-up with various companies like Cleartrip, ibibo, IndiaPlaza and others within a month of starting to offer coupons to its customers.

It is yet to be seen if Cuponation will be able to gain a sizable traction, in spite of Rocket Internet’s aggressive marketing campaigns for its ventures in the country. Remember that, online coupons as a category had declined by 38% year-on-year in the country according to comScore, since several players had either moved to allied verticals or to a different category like online retail.

International Presence: Besides its Indian Office, Cuponation stated that it has opened an office in Poland and has launched a similar Polish website Cuponation.pl. Going forward, it also plans to open offices in Italy, Spain and Brazil by end of 2012.

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Rocket Internet In India: Rocket Internet has been fairly active in the country this year. In July 2012, it had launched an online printing service called Printvenue, which offers various online printing solutions like printing of business cards, card holders, stamps, notepads, flyers, posters and letter heads and personalized accessories like engraved pens, and card holders for businesses and corporates.

Prior to this, it had launched an online jewelry store called 21Diamonds.in, which allowed users design and order their own jewelry. The incubator had also extended its online food ordering service, FoodPanda to India. Other ventures by the Rocket Internet include a Zappos inspired e-commerce portal Jabong.com, a premium furniture and home decor portal Heaven and Home, a home products and furniture portal Fab Furnish and an office product supplies portal OfficeYes. Bamarang, a Fab.com clone, was shut down in June 2012. Update: As Abhimanyu Radhakrishnan pointed out, Heaven and Home is being merged with FabFurnish. It’s also suggested by a report in iamwire.

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