Google Ventures has invested an undisclosed amount in Signpost a self-service local deals site, according to a report from TechCrunch. In the headline I compare it to RetailMeNot because there are no salespeople; it’s all self-service (merchants or users).
It’s a well-designed site that operates currently in four cities: New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco.
Assuming that the content grows, the user experience is partly what may distinguish it from competitors. And by that I mean: nice design and the fact that users can browse deals. Other sites such as Ask Deals, TheDealMap and 8Coupons allow users to search and browse deals too of course.
I’m not familiar with the logic or rationale behind Google’s investments but the self-service component is probably a significant reason here. The company has largely blown its own coupon opportunity through neglect and will probably make an acquisition in the segment at some future point.
There have been rumors that Yahoo was trying to buy Groupon. I would imagine that Google is also looking pretty seriously at the space.
However if you’re Google you could buy an aggregator (Yipit, DealMap) or create your own version of coupon aggregation and distribution — a deals version of Google Alerts. But Google could also create a pretty powerful channel for its SMB customers (and another reason for them work with Google) if the company did something in the space that offered a “push” email marketing capability.
Indeed, there’s a lot that Google could do with coupons/deals for both consumers and local merchants. Why aren’t they?