Last week Yan had written about RetailMeNot’s launch of a shopping community quoting from this TechCrunch story. After reading those stories and various comments at TechCrunch, I wanted to review RetailMeNot (RMN). RMN is the first coupon site I am reviewing.
RMN certainly does not have a typical coupon website look (cluttered design) but a rather interesting look, though a bit girlish in my books ;). Users rating coupons by indicating if the coupon worked is a brilliant idea. Even though the idea carries a very small execution, the effect of the voting can be seen in Yan’s monthly coupon site ratings, with RetailMeNot at the 2nd position. Also, user’s have the option to submit coupons.
The TechCrunch article notes that RMN features about 71,000 coupons from 13,000 merchants, which sounds very impressive. The success at RMN should also be attributed for not being behind in technology. The Firefox Extension, IGoogle Gadget, Bookmarklet and Mac Widget are some good examples. RMN also uses some of the buzz features popular with websites, such as Tag Cloud, related tags etc.
Being a user driven coupon site, the quality of coupons cannot really be attributed to RMN (good or bad) but should be attributed to its users. I have used their coupons in the past and the coupon ratings there generally seem to be good (meaning, if there is a 60% or more rating, there is a bigger chance of working for you).
Now let’s go back to last Monday’s announcement about the “Community” launch and associated discussions. The TechCrunch story includes a demo video which is about 5 minutes long, with Guy King of RMN. As I was watching the demo, I strongly felt like I have seen this “community” platform somewhere and on digging my bookmarks, it was from socialengine.net. Literally, nothing but a downloaded script, very minimally modified. However for someone watching the video on TechCrunch, Guy King makes it sound like a home grown script and never utters a word about actually buying it. I am not even sure why there needs to be a launch for it. It is just a downloaded script which is being put out in the site to see if it helps them. There is definitely nothing wrong in buying a script (that is for what they are made for), but a 5 minute interview about the script and RMN making it sound like built at home was really silly.
Today going back to TechCrunch to read more comments, this (about socialengine.net) has been discussed in the comments as well. Also there is a message (#35) about coupons for certain merchants being blocked.
Digging (Googling) more into it, there are about 125 merchants, for whom RetailMeNot does not have any real coupon, but has pretentious links, which make you think that you are getting a discount, but all that you (user) do is, help them earn a commission and nothing else. See this page for an example: http://www.retailmenot.com/view/netflix.com (do not forget to read the comments for the 2 “featured discounts”). In my view this is nothing but just a “rip off”.
The introduction of this Community network concept is to “expand” the existing community. To see how big a community they have, I checked their forums; they have 1984 members, with only 16 members having more than 4 posts! So there is no real community, but coupon ratings has been successful as there is no need to log in/sign up to rate a coupon and it does not really consume any time to click that single button.
On the whole, RMN has one strong point - RATED COUPONS and other than that, everything else surrounding RMN is just a buzz.