A few minutes ago, GroupOn launched a brand new offering called GroupOn Now! This web and mobile friendly platform is more than a new way extension from GroupOn, it's the future of the company.
GroupOn was built on an incredibly simple concept: (a) one deal per city per day (b) the deal is unlocked when a predefined number of participants opt into the deal. This simplicity not only defined the experience and therefore their value, but challenged their growth and opened the market to competition.
GroupOn Now! promises to push the market GroupOn founded not too long ago. GroupOn Now! promises location-based offers of multiple deals, grouped into interest categories. This experience is flexible and multi-platform. You can check it out for yourself in the Android Marketplace or Apple App Store. Please note that GroupOn Now! is currently limited to Chicago.
This is not the GroupOn we fell in love with. Where traditional GroupOn is incredibly simple, GroupOn Now! is rich. If we do become enchanted with GroupOn Now!, it will not be because they kept to their roots but because they had the courage and foresight to make the leap. This leap will define GroupOn's future: is GroupOn the company we know today, or the company we look to for shopping innovation moving forward?
The risks and opportunities of GroupOn Now! are often one and the same. Please find my considerations below:
- GroupOn is entering into the location based coupon space, a market rich with opportunity and contenders. GroupOn didn't face much competition their first time around.
- GroupOn has an very strong brand. People know and generally trust the brand. That said, GroupOn has also had their critics...
- GroupOn has a massive user-base. Scale is both an opportunity and a challenge when introducing a radically new solution.
- GroupOn has existing relationships with merchants and an embedded sales team.
- GroupOn can likely populate this tool with existing inventory, and can optimize timing and deals on the fly.
- GroupOn has the opportunity to become an always-on rather than once-daily communications channel.
- Merchants are often already challenged with properly utilizing GroupOn. This complexity makes the platform both more intuitive and more flexible. This is a double edged sword, but one I believe they can easily work through.
- The addition of location data on top of the social graph introduces incredible potential for new interaction dynamics. Think swarm sales, group buying, varying sales prices, GroupOn loyalty "cards"...
- GroupOn will be challenged with maintaining the simplicity that defined their initial success. This is true of both users and merchants.
- The mobile to mobile scanning feature is a brilliant workaround for the challenge of legacy check-out solutions that cannot scan off of screens. This is something everyone in the mobile couponing space should be exploring. However, while this is great for small businesses, I doubt that major retailers would ask their sales clerks to use their personal phones to scan GroupOn mobile coupons.