Chinese mob shopping sites score big discounts

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The Economist ran a funny story last week on “team buying” web sites in China. The sites, 51tuangou.com and teambuy.com.cn were highlighted, co-ordinate large numbers of consumers interested in buying the same products. People agree on a place and time to meet, then enter the store in crowds of up to 500 people at once. The crowds tell the store owners that they all want to buy, say a TV or a stereo, but everyone wants 10 to 30% off the retail price.

TeamBuy.com.cn has been online for six months, reports 10,000 registered users and says it plans to expand into Beijing and Shanghai soon.

Some store owners aren’t happy about it, but others are glad to move such large quantities of inventory at once. One store described in the story even closed its doors to all other shoppers when a team-buying mob arrived and gave everyone a small bag of gifts on their way out. Smart Mobs says “power to the people!”

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