Andrew Mason on Groupon's advantages in mobile

Steven Loeb · December 11, 2012 · Short URL:

What kind of company Groupon is; how it has transitioned to mobile and where it is going

How does mobile factor into Groupon’s future? It factors a lot. 

In fact, people on Groupon spend more money on their mobile devices than on their desktops, according to Andrew Mason, Groupon founder and CEO. 

“Local commerce does not happen from behind your office desk on your desktop computer," said Mason, who spoke at the Mobile-Loco conference in San Francisco on Tuesday. "You decide if you’re hungry or you’re bored on a street corner,” and mobile is allowing businesses to participate in that decision. 

But it is not just small decisions, such as where to eat lunch, that are being decided on mobile. A third of all Groupon transactions now take place on mobile, even purchases for vacations and high-end goods.

Groupon does the hard work of deciding what to recommend instead of giving users thousands of choices from a catalog. The brand is trusted to give recommendations on their behalf, Mason said, which means that it can present its content in a way that works best on mobile, and has allowed Groupon to successfully make the transition to the new platform.

Mobile is also key to the company’s success internationally. It’s about taking the playbook and applying it overseas, including personalization, which has not yet been implemented, so deals are still being sent to people who probably do not want them.

But Mason also acknowledges that different countries use the Internet in different ways, and that also affects how successful Groupon will be in those countries.

The example he gives is China versus North America, as China is not as e-mail heavy. 

What is Groupon?

The media consistently calls Groupons a “daily deals” company, yet the company has grown to add on a number of other services for small businesses, such as Groupon Goods, Groupon Payments, and Groupon Scheduler. So what kind of company does Mason see Groupon as being?

Prior to Groupon, there was originally a collection action platform called The Point and Groupon was just one app in that collective, which focused on rallying the purchasing power of people.

People need an excuse to go out and do all of the interesting things that there are to do, Mason said, and by offering half priced deals, Groupon gives people that opportunity to discover the world around them.

“As we scale that model, we realized that we were doing something extremely unique. We were building the assets, the two sides of coin to have a real global market place.”

The site has relationships with hundreds of thousands of businesses across 48 countries, as well as 200 million subscribers, and 40 million active customers, he said, so Groupon sees itself as primarily a local e-commerce company that is aiming to “enable the same kind of revolution that Amazon led with four or five years ago,” except with local businesses.

Groupon’s goal, Mason said, is to plug every local business into the Internet and in five years the company want it to be easier for buyersto discover new businesses or offerings, and make it easier to save, while bringing even more customers to every “mom and pop shop.” 

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