Groupon's Domination in the Online Marketplace

   Within the past few quarters, the United States has experienced a dramatic increase in the amount of consumer spending that is done online. This shift has primarily occurred due to cheaper prices being offered by online retailers. The vague economic environment coupled with dilapidated disposable income has been the primary cause for this shift toward making more bargain purchases. The three companies that I have picked below are all retail-oriented and rely on the internet for a large portion of their sales.

Groupon (NASDAQ: GRPN  ) and Macy's (NYSE: M  )  continue to see surges in revenue, while retailers such as Sears Holdings (NASDAQ: SHLD  )  are seeing lower revenues, higher volatility, and lower profitability margins. Throughout this article I will outline and discuss why Groupon will continue to beat consensus estimates, and why Macy's and Sears will also continue to see higher revenues and margins.

Groupon
Last August, Groupon announced its results for the second quarter of 2013 with revenue that increased by 7% to a total of $608.7 million. Though North America's revenue grew by 45%, Eastern Europe, as well as the Middle East, Africa, and the rest of the world, declined by 24% and 26%, respectively. The growth in North America was primarily due to the surge in mobile users, which made up half of Groupon's total dealings in the second quarter of 2013. 

Unlike the majority of its competitors, Groupon is well positioned for the surge in the Mobile/Smartphone industry, with around 50% of Groupon's transactions in North America made through mobile networks in the second quarter of 2013. This is compared to approximately 30% in the second quarter of 2012. This trend will likely continue, as total smartphone users in the U.S. are expected to reach 207.40 million in 2017.

Additionally, online spending has significantly increased. In the U.S., it will reach $248.7 billion by 2014. This could be the right opportunity for Groupon, as it can use this trend to connect to more users and businesses. People are becoming more comfortable purchasing online and are even making high-value purchases, such as televisions, clothes, and even cars.

Macy's
Macy's net profit margins have more than doubled since 2008, going from a mere 2.2% that year to a whopping 5.1% in 2012. In addition, the company has not only restored the dividend to its pre-2008 level--it has exceeded it. The dividend was raised to its current $0.25 per share level on May 15, giving investors' trusts a boost. At its current rate of roughly $1 per share, Macy's yields a bit more than 2%.

Sears Holdings
Sears' shares have been exhibiting tremendous amounts of volatility in recent days. The stock was trading at about $65 on Oct. 2, 2013, and is now trading at a mere $54; that's a staggering 15% loss in less than a month. The shares had gained more than 60% from late August through early October, but the stock is currently headed south. In addition, Sears Holdings is reportedly expected to record a $648 million loss in the current fiscal year, on revenues of $37 billion. Sears is suffering these losses because it cannot keep up with the pace of technology and retail trends. 

Conclusion
Within the past year or so there has been a dramatic shift from in-store retailing to online retailing. Companies such as Groupon and Macy's that are able to keep up with this shift will continue to prosper and deliver phenomenal results. On the other hand, companies such as Sears that have little or no experience in this field will fall. In today's day and age, discounts are required from a company to market its products and sales. In my opinion, Groupon is that best out of all of these companies due to its large potential upside.

These aren't the only retailers the Fool is watching
The retail space is in the midst of the biggest paradigm shift since mail order took off at the turn of last century. Only those most forward-looking and capable companies will survive, and they'll handsomely reward those investors who understand the landscape. You can read about the 3 Companies Ready to Rule Retail in The Motley Fool's special report. Uncovering these top picks is free today; just click here to read more.


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  • Report this Comment On October 23, 2013, at 12:26 PM, kashif777 wrote:

    If Groupon is to make improvements it must start with the UK. If it catches on there then France etc will follow.

    Looking at demographics on users from Alexa, we see in the UK Groupon appeals mostly to tech-savvy people, under 35 likely. They prefer to buy deals with entertainment (theatre). TEOFEL courses are also popular revealing an immigrant user base which is likely alienated from mainstream and stuck on the net all day. Logically Groupon UK ought to cater more specifically to these people then UK business will expand.

    Ideas?

    Travel.

    The UK is congested and everyone loves to fly out of there. Fast. Discounted trips are essential. Maybe with 1 billion in cash GRPN could make a UK airline. Buy 3 planes to start and scale up.

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