Groupon Launches Its Own ‘Places’ Product: Groupon Stores

Yipit’s Jim Moran picked up on a post from MV Technology partners that “outed” a new offering from Groupon: “Groupon Stores.” The copy in the image below reads: “Groupon Stores is a place where your favorite, local businesses can sign up, create a store page, and post deals at anytime for you to see. Welcome to the future of Groupon.”

This is Groupon as CRM tool, as broad advertising platform for SMBs. Reportedly you can also “follow” merchants and there are “store pages” (see below). Can you say “Groupon Places”?

All this makes sense for Groupon — to move from product and channel to platform. It also potentially gives merchants more control over promotions, something they don’t have today with Groupon proper, which has caused frustration and something of a backlash.

Moran has done a good job cataloging the benefits (for Groupon) and competitive challenges such an offering faces in the market. However it’s a natural for Groupon nonetheless.

Of course it’s tied to Facebook and Twitter for additional exposure and distribution. The irony here, however, is that there’s more demand among SMBs for new customers than CRM for existing ones. That’s the service Groupon now provides: new customer acquisition. Of course the “viral” elements of Groupon Stores would enable new customers to discover local businesses through social sharing.

An interesting question is the model that might be used for Groupon Stores. Is it the same aggressive discounting model (which many SMBs don’t like)? Are the rules and guidelines or do SMBs get to control their own offers and prices? One would think so but it remains to be seen.

(All the apparently involved merchants seemed to have 50% or more discounts on their “store” pages. Isolated “savvy” merchants have started to manipulate prices to minimize margin loss.)

Regardless, Groupon Stores represents a natural evolution and logical step for Groupon, to become a broader marketing platform for SMBs and help overcome the problem of the “one-night stand.”

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