Feeds

Groupon offer burns cupcake baker’s profits

Be careful what you wish for

Build a business case: developing custom apps

A British baker has seen her entire annual profits wiped out after a Groupon deal went horribly awry.

The Need a Cake bakery in Reading, Berkshire, signed up with Groupon to offer a 75 per cent discount on an order of a dozen cupcakes, cutting the cost from £26 to £6.25. Unfortunately for the small bakery, the offer proved too tempting – over 8,500 sugar-craving people placed orders before the baker was forced to end the offer early.

Owner Rachel Brown told the Daily Telegraph that the Groupon deal was “without doubt, the worst ever business decision I have made. It's been an absolute nightmare.”

Faced with such a massive spike in demand, Brown was forced to work all hours and hire extra staff to meet Need a Cake's shipping dates. Complicating matters was the offer of customer choice of sponge flavor, icing, and decoration options. Some staff were beavering away at 3am, trying to catch up.

Brown took a loss on each order, and estimates the Groupon deal has cost her £12,500 – her annual expected profits.

“We take pride in making cakes of exceptional quality, but I had to bring in agency staff on top of my usual staff, who had nowhere near the same skills. I was very worried about standards dropping and hated the thought of letting anybody down,” she said.

Ms Brown is hardly the first to be caught out by an ill thought-through marketing idea. The unofficial record for marketing cockups is held by the Hoover vacuum cleaner company – an example that's still in textbooks today. The company lost £50m and incalculable amounts of good will after promising two free transatlantic flights with every vacuum cleaner purchased, and then trying to weasel out of the deal after failing to realize the obvious point that when the promotional item is worth more than the product, people get smart.

McDonalds, too, has fallen into the seductive trap of marketing hitting reality. During the 1984 US Olympics, the fast food giant came up with the idea of giving away scratchcards that revealed an event, and then offering a free Big Mac, fries, or Coke if America won a medal in that discipline. Unfortunately for Ronald, however, the Soviet Union and Eastern Germany, the usual winners of the biggest medal total, decided to boycott the games, leading to America winning 174 medals. The ensuing chaos was later parodied by the Simpsons.

Nevertheless, El Reg feels it would be in Groupon’s interest to examine deals such as Ms Brown’s for sanity before letting them run. Salespeople are obviously keen to sign up new retailers, but they should have the sense to say “that’s a great idea, but…” if they want repeat business. ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.