Groupon already had a “rewards” program (which was about loyalty to Groupon vs. merchants). It is discontinuing that program in favor of a new loyalty effort (“Groupon Rewards”), intended to get consumers to reach certain spending levels or a certain number of visits to unlock additional savings.
TechCrunch first reported the new program. It seeks to address the “one night stand” problem that some merchants have experienced with daily deals. And it’s part of a broader move in the industry toward loyalty and repeat visits.
For example, Bloomspot seeks to identify “best customers” so that merchants can offer them special deals. SVNGR’s LevelUp requires multiple visits to receive the maximum consumer benefit. There are other such efforts as well. And Google recently bought Punch’d, a mobile loyalty app.
As the deals segment evolves there will be tools for customer acquisition and retention. We’re starting to see these retention/loyalty tools develop and become more sophisticated. Groupon Rewards is just one prominent instance of this.
Data is another important theme here. At the Mobilize conference yesterday I spoke about connecting online to offline. Payments, QR codes, real-time product inventory and POS software integration is all part of this larger initiative. And identifying “best customers” is a data problem that more companies will be addressing: who’s coming in, who’s spending more, etc.
All of this has already been worked out in the world of traditional loyalty programs of course. United Airlines knows how much I spend and how many miles I fly and offers me privileges and benefits accordingly.
So what we’re talking about ultimately is the migration of these deal sites and tools from a version couponing to something that’s a lot more like SMB CRM.