If you watch Gabrielle Blair’s every move as intently as I do, then you’ll have noticed that she recently launched a new project, CliqueShop that launched earlier this week. Cliqueshop is a kind of group buying, coupon clearinghouse that is the kind of thing you might get if you merged a sample sale membership discount site like Gilt Group or Daily Candy’s Swirl and confined it to coupon-specific deals from vendors that appeal to the Design Mom audience.
Does it sound complicated?
Here’s how it works for the consumers: a deal is posted each week — this past week it was a deal where you could pay $10 to get a $25 gift certificate toward some organic cleaning products. Now, assuming the deal goes through, you are guaranteed a $15 profit on this purchase. But, the deal only goes through if there are 75 buyers. So the buyer has to go get some friends to join them in the purchase if they really want to get the deal. If it’s something you really want, it makes sense why you’d want to do it — you’re guaranteed a return.
For the vendors, it’s appealing because there’s a guaranteed number of people who are going to have an investment in seeing the deal going through. And if the deal doesn’t go through to a certain number of people, they don’t have to give any discounts. So there’s a good chance that they’ll get a bunch of click-throughs to their e-commerce site without actually having to extend any kind of discount to anybody. They are also likely to be on the end of a social media grassroots word-of-mouth effort if a product is particularly popular. Their return is pretty easy to see, in terms of advertising, though it does depend on how much they are paying to get this kind of placement (I tried to get Gabrielle to tell me this, to no avail — I’m guessing that, in addition to the cut she’s taking of each sale (e.g. on the coupon example above, she’s getting $10 and the coupon is costing the vendor $25), I think there’s probably a decent amount being paid to her just to get featured, but I didn’t get a chance to confirm with her so I cannot say for sure.)
For Gabrielle, the benefits are clear: she gets the price of each coupon, assuming the sale goes through. If the sale doesn’t go through because there aren’t enough buyers, then all the money is refunded to the buyers and she is out merchant fees, etc., but otherwise she gets those commissions, plus whatever she is getting from the advertiser for the placement. Smart cookie! No wonder Time just named Design Mom one of the Top 50 websites of 2010!
Update: It looks like Cliqueshop is actually some kind of affiliate program version of Groupon (though it’s unclear if it’s affiliated with Groupon or not at this point). If I were actually thorough in my reporting, I would have realized this, but luckily, my readership is smarter than I am, and they figured it out for me. So, anyway, carry on.