Groupon in the US recently launched Deal Builder, an automated self-serve option for business owners to advertise their own discount promotions.
Small business owners who jumped on the Groupon bandwagon previously were often left disappointed as the coupon buzz usually left them at a loss with no repeat customers. Perhaps Groupon intends Deal Builder to be an incentive to lure disillusioned small business owners back into the coupon marketplace.
Dan Roarty, Groupon’s vice president of product development, was interviewed by Bloomberg about the launch of Deal Builder. He said: “What we’ve launched now is a way for merchants who want to take action very quickly to do self service. It’s really designed to increase the number of merchants, in a lot of locations where perhaps we wouldn’t deploy our outbound sales force.”
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The introduction of Deal Builder will leverage the number of deals on the website to new heights, in a time when email marketing may not be as effective, as most people consider the emails to be spam.
Deal Builder allows merchants to build promotions through a series of online templates that provide step-by-step directions to create products and service offers. Once the deals are live, they will be searchable within the Groupon database. Previously Groupon sales reps worked with the merchants who submitted an application to the website and created offers via email and over the phone.
Small businesses that are new to the world of daily deals will be guided along by the Deal Builder tool that has pricing and detail suggestions. The Deal Builder has been piloted and tested with roughly 10,000 merchants for the past few months with the hopes to increase the loyalty of small businesses.
Groupon obviously intend to boost the morale of small businesses, but are they forgetting about the customer experience?
Products and services offered on the site as coupons and deals are often valid for a short time, with lots of terms and conditions found in the fine print. Customers are often only allowed to use their coupons during certain times and often businesses do not expect to sell as many coupons as they do and aren’t able to keep up with the demand. If businesses no longer have to contact a Groupon representative directly, then how are they ensuring that the merchants are legitimate and won’t rip their customers off?
We’ve all heard Groupon horror stories. One of my employees booked a holiday to Mexico with friends via Groupon and was then informed the travel agent had gone into liquidation. Thousands of people were left having paid for a non-existent holiday and obtaining refunds was a testing and time-consuming process.
Does Groupon conduct thorough security and qualifying checks of their advertisers? I’m not so convinced that they do.
Hopefully Groupon’s Deal Builder venture will benefit small businesses and allow them to grow long term. Their next strategy should focus on qualifying the advertisers, enhancing the consumer experience, and enabling mobile couponing and mobile marketing.
Fi Bendall is the managing director of Bendalls Group, a team of highly trained digital specialists, i-media subject matter experts and developers.