At a time when the conventional wisdom says the “deals market” is on life support along comes LiveDeal to launch a deals marketplace the restaurant vertical. It’s certainly a provocative, contrarian move.
Originally a classifieds 2.0 and local directory site from way back when (2006 – 2008) it essentially disappeared. I had forgotten the site was a public company. I have no idea how it survived and avoided delisting over the past several years.
It now has new leadership and an entirely new model. It’s a Pinterest-inspired, largely self-service driven deals platform for restaurants. (Insert discussion regarding the challenges of SMB self service and building a two-sided marketplace.)
It’s almost as though the people running LiveDeal emerged from a cave unaware of what has happened over the past 24 months.
However it’s clear that consumers remain interested in saving money. That’s “evergreen.” Only a small minority of people are impervious to deals and discounts. And restaurants is the perennial top local search category both online and in mobile. Speaking which, LiveDeal is rolling out iPhone and Android apps.
Right now everything is free and consumers don’t buy deals (a la Groupon) in advance. Eventually there will be an ad model that will offer placement or visibility on top of category and geo-relevance.
Asked about whether the restaurant owners get coaching about deal values and presentation, the answer I received was “some.” There’s a small telephone sales force and they help counsel restaurant marketers.
LiveDeal is currently in three markets: San Diego, San Jose and the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s coming to Houston in the near term.
The company is pitching and presenting itself as the anti-Groupon (or LiveDavid vs. Grouponoliath):
- Complete flexibility: Restaurants choose when their deals become live and when they appear on livedeal.com. Whether it’s Tuesdays from 12-6pm or Thursday and Fridays from 3-9pm, livedeal.com now puts the restaurants in complete control over when they want to run special offers and entice customers.
- Traffic control: Restaurants control the number of redeemable vouchers available to users on any specific run period. Perfect to attract the right number of customers based on the restaurants’ number of reservations, available staff, etc.
- Direct transactions with the user: since LiveDeal collects no funds from users, Restaurants transact directly with the consumers at the point of sale. Therefore, restaurants don’t wait to get paid by LiveDeal.
- It’s 100% free and easy to use! Restaurants don’t get squeezed out of their profits. Additionally, since no fees are paid to livedeal.com, restaurants can pass along the savings to consumers.
- Instant deal publishing: restaurants gain access to an incredibly powerful online deal dashboard where they can create and publish a deal to nearby consumers within two minutes.
There’s heavy reliance on merchants to engage and figure out which promotions to present on their own. In a way there’s something charming and perhaps even a bit naive in the company’s approach. I hope my skepticism is unjustified.
What do you think about a launch like this now and the interest of consumers and merchants?