Nearbuy grows 5X since its rebranding 9 months ago, claims to have best margin among commerce players

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Rebranding isn't an easy task for any company or startup. It essentially means shaking up your identity, sacrificing your hard-earned familiarity with customers, and embarking on a new journey with an untested brand.

In the case of well-known brands, re-branding becomes more challenging as customers have become used to a certain brand name and its affinity. However, service commerce platform Nearbuy has successfully been able to rebrand itself from Groupon India.

Disassociating with the Groupon brand name was not a smooth affair for the Gurgaon-headquartered company. Groupon is, of course, a very established global brand so people recognise it instantly. That's the reason the company did a couple of things to make the transition smooth. Ankur Warikoo, Co-founder and CEO of Nearbuy, points out:

We rebranded to ‘Nearbuy by Groupon', so there was the Groupon element that was associated and helped both our customers and merchants seamlessly move through that experience. We constantly kept emphasising on the fact that the fundamentals of the organisations haven't changed.

Since its independence from Groupon in August last year, the company has come a long way. It claims to have grown almost by 500 percent from what it was nine months ago. “We are almost reaching 50,000 merchants now from about 18,000 when we were with Groupon,” says Ankur. The Sequoia-backed venture also expanded to 21 new cities and 15 new categories, including fitness, travel, and spas among others.

For four years, Ankur and his five other co-founders were working under multi-national setups where a lot of things were given to them. “The technology was not ours, the marketing investment decisions were made by the global headquarters. But ever since we have become independent through the management buyout, we've developed our own technology, processes, and culture,” adds Ankur.

Nine months is a little too early for Groupon brand to completely change. “But it's a work in progress,” says Ankur. With rebranding, Nearbuy also changed its positioning from a deal and discounting platform to a pure-play service commerce player. Ankur adds,

We don't want to call ourselves a deal site anymore, that was the Groupon brand and it worked for us while we were there.

Besides food & beverages, fitness, spa & salon, Nearbuy is currently focusing heavily on three categories -- movie, events, and travel. “Travel always remains the core focus, and we want to dominant leisure travel in this country. We don't want to be in the business travel one-night stays but more of the quick getaways, the short vacations,” says Ankur.

When it comes to revenue and finance, Nearbuy claims to be on track and stable from a unit economics perspective. “We make, I would argue, perhaps one of the best margins in the country among all commerce players,” says Ankur. Besides number driven milestones, the company plans to roll out superior technology for consumers and merchants both. He concludes,

We are working extremely hard on building our tech, more so for our merchants, which makes them smarter about their business and how they run their business from a local services perspective in a real time environment.

Deals and discounts have become a vital part of our shopping behaviour. For instance, we always look for discount irrespective of product or service we're buying. Besides comfort and depth product catalogue, discount has played an important role for adoption of internet shopping in India.

While Nearbuy doesn't focus on doling out discount on physical products, it's making an attempt to offer a wider reach to offline merchants (like small and medium F&B, gym, spas et al) by passing discounts and deals to consumers.

Nearbuy competes with Paytm-funded Little and InfoEdge-backed Mydala. So far, deals sector has not seen many successes, and industry experts remain skeptical whether it will see a massive growth in India.