Groupon to launch real-time app, Groupon Now

Faith Merino · March 18, 2011 · Short URL:

Groupon proves it knows what it's doing

The other day, a friend and I wanted to go out somewhere for dinner, and in an effort to keep my New Year's resolution of "getting my shit together"--financially more than anything else--I checked Groupon to see if there were any restaurant deals nearby. No? How about LivingSocial, then? Nope...nothing there either. Unfortunately, as a resident of Sacramento, my deal options are somewhat limited. 

I ended up not finding anything and was bummed to have to pay full price for a meal for a change. And then it clicked--this is how Groupon is upending commerce as we know it. In the two and a half years since Groupon burst onto the scene, it has become the rule of commerce, not the exception. 

And now it's as if Groupon has seen my quandary and said: "It's okay, Faith. We're going to fix this." Coming in April, the company will be launching a new game-changer: Groupon Now, a mobile app that will allow you to find nearby deals under two categories-- "I'm hungry" or "I'm bored." 

THIS, my friends, is the technology that Groupon needs to set itself apart from the droves of hungry, snapping Groupon clones. With this app, users will be able to find deals by the hour. 


It's like near field communications (which uses proximity sensors to get more specific with location), but for daily deals! Merchants will be able to specify exact time frames for their deals so that, for instance, restaurants that normally don't get customers between 2 pm and 5 pm can specify that window of time for their deals to get more traffic. But what they're really bound to love about it is the fact that they'll have more control over the onslaught of Groupon users they're bound to encounter. One of the complaints merchants typically have about Groupon is the fact that they might run a deal for a day, but if the expiration date is four months off, they're going to face unperdictable swarms of Groupon subscribers leaving bad tips around the clock for months. 

With the new Groupon Now app, merchants can designate exact windows of time for when they're open to Groupon customers. 

And then of course there are the subscribers, themselves. Think about the millions of times you've left your home without a plan for lunch--maybe you go on a day trip to visit your sister who lives three hours away. You get there, you're hungry, you want to go out, but you don't want to spend a lot of cash. Now you can have nearby Groupon deals ready for on-the-spot use at all times. 

So what does this mean for Groupon's future? It means that after inventing the social commerce space, which has since been flooded with Groupon copycats, Groupon Now will finally launch it out of the water to set the company apart from the clones. Of course, one could argue that other daily deal sites can just create real-time apps of their own, but the service is so time-specific that Groupon's Andrew Mason believes that merchants will only be able to use one or two services, max. 

But more than that, Groupon has cemented itself as the premier daily deal company worldwide. With more than 70 million customers in more than 500 markets across 45 countries and an employee base now numbering almost 6,000 (I swear, just a couple of weeks ago it was 4,000), Groupon has already covered a key base: becoming the default deal provider, which means that when those merchants want to run a real-time deal, Groupon will likely be the first service they think of--and they won't have the resources to try out other services.

As it tees up for its rumored $25 billion IPO, this now proves that the company really is worth it. 

So, Groupon, you have restored my faith in you. I was worried when you turned down Google--I actually became even more worried when you went on your world domination tour, thinking you were headed in the wrong direction of trying to expand rather than innovate. But now I see that you know what you're doing, you're smarter than I thought, and you have my allegiance. Run away with me?

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