As Director of Technology at Irise and after building several daily deal sites, this is a combined series of Groupon Clone posts I have put on my own website RJH Solutions that has thankfully received an enormous amount of attention and response.
Groupon has been incredibly successful as a business model. As everyone knows, it was offered a significant amount of money by Google which they turned down! An Israeli company called Grouper ,which was operating for only 8 months, was purchased for something like $15 million by Groupon last year. 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 the following clones:
- Contus’ GroupClone
- Daily Deal Builder
- Eponware’s EponGroup
- Groupon Clone Pro
- Build a Coupon Site
This also addresses what I find as limitations with each script, a buyer beware disclaimer, and my own experience with Off-Shore companies in general.
1. Contus GroupClone.net
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. Most importantly, 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 (and not getting back),” “That feature (bug fix) is not available in our installation. Please contact business development for customization changes,” or “look through 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: Based on personal experience we do not find this to be a credible product. Any company that does not offer proper support and only accepts “Western Union” or “Moneygram” should be a red flag.
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.
Wroupon, a Chinese-based Singapore company, looks, feels and functions EXACTLY the same way that Alstrasoft does. Cheap, buggy, and limited in terms of payment processors. The more I look at it the more I’m convinced that one copied the software off the other. Perhaps some modifications were made, but that’s about it. Bugs like adding cities and limited payment processors are still present, and when other demo users point out clear bugs, very little is done to troubleshoot or at least respond to user comments.
Bottom line, nothing original, and substandard support.
Price: $89 for the Lite version, $350 for the full. A complete breakdown can be found here.
8. Daily Deal Builder
Daily Deal Builder looks from the outset like another stable Groupon clone, but at a relatively steep price. The starting price is $400 for the script PLUS a monthly fee for subscribers, starting at $25 a month, going as high as $5,000 a month for over 1 million subscribers. And, who’s to say that a significant percentage will make purchases to justify this cost? It can become a costly choice.
As far as functionality goes, I don’t see how it’s functionality differs from other Groupon clone sites I’ve encountered, save for the optional YouTube video upload instead of an image. Payment gateways are limited to Paypal standard and a generic credit card processor. Not only that, but it seems that you’re limited in choices of design and cities/countries, and they’re essentially hosting/owning the code for you. I personally wouldn’t recommend that in case various scenarios occur, such as code base change, or even the minute chance that the company goes out of business.
Also, there’s a base currency setting per site. What if you intend to expand your business globally and use different currencies and time zones?
Again, my personal take is that it’s important to have control of the code you own at a decent cost. $400 plus a monthly fee starting at $25 for code you don’t even have control over is in my opinion a bit steep, even though support is within the United States time zones.
Price: $400 plus a monthly fee starting at $25, can go as high as $5,000/month.
9. EponWare’s EponGroup
- The main website is amateurishly run on Joomla! CMS.
- There is no free demo, rather the demo must be per request.
- The email address for contacting them is an “@gmail.com” one.
- “Ships in 3-5 days.” I don’t understand why downloadable software needs to take that long.
- In all honesty, I have not tested the software to come to an adequate conclusion. I filled out the sign-up form earlier but no attempt to contact me back was made, which gives credence to the company’s non-professionalism.
It has recently come to my attention that their support is not , the code is encrypted so that it cannot be modified, is limited in functionality, and that any little change is also expensive.
Skin Design: $250
Language Mod: $150
This post is the final in my series of Groupon Clone Software reviews. With Groupon sites still maintaining popularity, many off-shore companies have raced to build their own solutions and it’s practically impossible to follow each one. However I feel like these posts have covered the most commonly used ones.
10. Groupon Clone Pro
When I visited the main website, I saw that it was in Joomla based on the tab icon.
In any case, their demo site from the front-end looks promising, but there’s no explicit access to the demo site’s back-end. A Google search showed me that in the demo site, in logging in, the username/password is admin/admin123. Once in, the back-end system looks EXACTLY LIKE Agriya’s platform. Yet another clunky back-end with many bugs.
Payment gateways are Paypal and Authorize.net.
Price: N/A as they took off the Pricing page.
On the home page there are buttons to guide you to the front and back-ends of the site. From a design perspective the back-end leaves much to be desired. However, everything is organized from the left side and is fairly easy to quick to pick up. The biggest problem though is that there’s no place to send out coupons, manage transactions, or manage user info!
Payment gateways are Paypal Standard and Paypal Pro, nothing else.
Default template: $250
Unique design: $400
12. Build a Coupon Site
http://www.buildacouponsite.com – Account was recently suspended.
Fatbit.com is an Indian company that offers all sorts of software coding and design solutions, as well as SEO. They have a demo of their software on redincity.com, and all the login information on the Fatbit website,
The pros is that they seem to be available on Live Chat 24 hours a day, which is a boon for many people in the US and Canada who don’t want to be up at 1 in the morning when it’s business hours in India. They also offer custom coding packages ranging from $8 to $20 per hour, depending on the number of hours per package chosen.
The cons here I find lie with the Groupon clone software. They have an interesting system where there are 2 admin logins – one for the admin and one for the specific merchant. My biggest critique is that, while it doesn’t look like there are bugs, they made it way too complicated for someone visiting it for the first time to use it. There are too many options all over the place and is far from intuitive.
Their only payment gateways are Paypal (payments standard) and Authorize.net.
The front-end looks nothing spectacular.
Pricing: $100 for the script with default template
$1500 for the script for a custom template
$2500 if the solution is custom
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.
Once again, when dealing with off-shore companies, you will encounter software with many basic bugs. Out of all of the softwares out there, I have found Contus to be the best for the following reasons. One is that the system is built on top of Magento Community shopping cart, a stable, robust platform especially when it comes the the bottom line: transacting money. The second reason is that their ticketing support is excellent despite the time difference. Three, they are constantly adding new features to make it “feel” different than the rest of the clone websites out there.
Until you’re ready to code your own solution, Contus is the one I personally recommend. Also, it’s strongly advised to purchase a virtual dedicated server in order to process huge amounts of bandwidth from the visitors and database use.
That concludes my review of the Groupon Clone software series. I hope these reviews have guided you in the right direction in terms of which software to use. Should you wish to contact me directly with any questions please do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.