Founded in the early 2000s, Groupon sells deals with local merchants for a wide variety of goods and services, such as restaurants, gyms, events, and local products. It’s a digital marketplace that offers subscribers daily discount coupons by email, Facebook and Twitter feeds.
Merchants and service providers offer a discount or rebate to a set number of people, who discover and claim the discount through the Groupon app. This process provides publicity and revenue to participating companies, and introduces customers to products, experiences and services they may not have tried without the incentive of a discount.
Consumers can download the app for free, and with their Locations Services enabled on their smartphone, can receive deals in their immediate area via the Groupon app.
Groupon is investing in a host of new initiatives to help retailers optimise their marketing and new customer acquisition programmes. Retail Connections spoke to Jon Wilson, General Manager of National Brands and Groupon Live for EMEA, to find out more.
Groupon is tapping into the world of m-commerce – when did the Groupon app launch and how many users do you have in the UK, and Europe?
At Groupon, we’ve always been an m-commerce business first and foremost. We have been ahead of the game in terms of the consumer shift that’s happened over the past ten years. Our app launched in 2010 and recently hit over 200 million downloads globally. The impact of mobile on commerce is huge. We already see 80% of our user traffic come in via mobile, so it’s something that we will continue to invest in and stay on top of.
Why is this a business priority for Groupon?
Most people associate Groupon with paper vouchers, but we are a very different business today and that’s because of mobile.
With the mobile boom, we had a choice to make – we saw the potential with mobile and decided to harness that truly disruptive force. Not just the technology, but the technology that drives a commitment to the customer experience. It’s about caring for the customer in a different way. Our business leveraged this shift to enable customers to redeem offers via mobile, ending the use of paper vouchers for those that wanted a faster, hassle-free way to get great deals.
We have evolved from being a mobile participant, to a mobile-first company and during that transition, we built a product that very quickly gained a huge number of downloads which resulted in a significant impact to the business.
At heart we are a local, real-time, commerce business; we drive footfall for small businesses in our high streets. We know how important that is in today’s economy and use mobile to help us do that. Whether it’s via your social feeds, app alerts or push notifications, we let you know where and when to get the offers for the businesses you love.
How easy is it for retailers to participate in Groupon, and also to step back when they don’t want to discount constantly?
Setting up an account with Groupon is really easy and we work on a pay-per customer basis so businesses don’t pay anything until they start making sales.
All businesses that work with us get a consultation so that they can set out their goals in relation to their needs – whether that’s winning new customers or filling empty seats during quieter periods. As an unparalleled new customer acquisition partner for local businesses, they have a range of options on how they can work with Groupon, including adjusting the price to their offer to meet the seasonality needs of their business. They can offer a small percentage discount during peak times and higher levels of promotional discounts during the offseason.
Groupon is a really powerful online marketplace and an influx of new customers is great, but we encourage businesses to think carefully about what they can reasonably manage. We’ve added lots of key features to help businesses manage their accounts, for example our new booking tool allows you to control when you need help in your quiet periods and completely removes the paper voucher from the experience, which is great for customers and our merchants. We can increase or decrease sales at any point in the campaign, or pause or unpause based on the needs of the merchant’s business so we maintain an open line of communication with the merchants so we can help them get the best from the platform.
What technology do you use to streamline the process for retailers?
Once live, businesses have full access to real-time dashboards where they can monitor how their deals are performing, optimise promotions and get more insight into their customers. That means they can adjust deals themselves so they are always in control.
We can take a lot of complexity and cost out of essential tools for businesses – things like SEM (Search Engine Marketing), SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), and geo-targeting. We run offline marketing campaigns, PR initiatives and have a robust marketing programme that gets their content in front of even more potential customers. This means that when a retailer signs up with us, they’re getting a partner who is investing hugely into these areas, and can lean on our support and expertise.
What other new ventures/innovations can you talk about for 2019?
One of the things we’re really proud of is our new booking tool for the food and drink sector which helps to ensure the businesses we work with are busy every day rather than just Fridays and Saturdays. It’s also great for customers because they know when they buy the Groupon deal that there’s availability and enables them to book on the spot.
This came about as direct feedback from customers who wanted to be able to book specific dates and times as they purchase a deal. The benefit for the merchant here is that again, there’s no longer the need for a voucher so that means less admin and more time for merchants to focus on running their business and giving customers a fantastic experience.