The Groupon website.
The Groupon website. - 
Listen To The Story


BOB MOON: Groupon is about to go after a very big group. Today, the daily deal website goes after the world's fastest-growing market -- China. The idea of group-buying seems universal. The question is whether Groupon will be able to rise above the fray.

The BBC's Chris Hogg reports for us from Hong Kong.

CHRIS HOGG: Chinese shoppers love a bargain. In stores they'll always ask for a discount. And because online prices are often lower than those in the shops, Internet retail sales almost doubled in China last year. Groupon will be hoping to cash in on that hunger for a good deal. Its new Chinese site will offer discounts on eating, shopping and entertainment in Shanghai and Beijing.

But retail analyst Paul French from Access Asia in Shanghai says it'll take Groupon a while to catch up the local Chinese firms which already offer similar schemes.

PAUL FRENCH: The days when you could just offer a service in Shanghai, Beijing and a handful of other cities are gone. There's 160 cities in China with more than a million people in them and we need to get coupons into all of those cities.

China has the world's largest Internet market -- that's a lot of potential customers -- but other American firms, like Best Buy, have found what works in the States doesn't always work with shoppers here.

In Hong Kong, I'm the BBC's Chris Hogg for Marketplace.