Groupon Adds Restaurant Reservations and More News
In today's Media Mix, the annual list of best cheap eats in New York, plus Noma's big plans
The Daily Meal brings you the biggest news from the food world.
Noma Rebuilding Kitchen: News is that Copenhagen's best restaurant (and the number two restaurant in the world) is demolishing its kitchen and rebuilding it from scratch in July, closing the restaurant for a month. [Eater]
Cheap Eats NYC: Here is a list of where to eat almost for free around New York City. We're down. [NY Mag]
Return of Una Pizza Napoletana: Speaking of cheap eats, rumor has it that Anthony Mangieri (who made his mark in New York only to move to San Francisco) will be returning to the big apple. [Grub Street/Twitter]
Groupon's Ascend: The group discount site is hoping to regain its early momentum with Groupon Reserve, a system that makes reservations at high-end restaurants with discounts. We doubt Per Se is on there. [USA Today]
26 Restaurant Marketing Ideas: How to Market a Restaurant
The competition among restaurants is fierce, and you’ll need to give your all to be successful. We’re helping you out with 26 restaurant marketing ideas and strategies that promise to help you improve your business and get attention from growling stomachs everywhere!
Upserve POS Top Features
Servers can merge, transfer and split checks fast – even when splitting between cash and cards payments. Need to split a bottle of wine for a four-top? Easy. With just a couple of taps, Upserve's restaurant POS does the math for you, so you can focus on the guests.
No internet? No problem. Offline Mode's got you covered so that you can continue to serve customers, send orders to the kitchen, take credit card payments and print receipts, even if you lose connectivity.
Provide hands-on practice for new hires! Training Mode makes it easier to train staff to use all the features of Upserve's restaurant POS using your own menu and data without messing up your reporting or disrupting service.
Should you focus on driving up check averages or bringing more guests in? Upserve knows. Insights that make it easier to understand and manage labor costs, scheduling and employee productivity. Upserve's restaurant POS analytics and reporting gives an easier review of sales trends and performance rather than digging through complicated reports.
With Upserve POS, servers can quickly search menu items or categories, and get every order fired off as quickly as possible.The power of the Upserve Platform combines restaurant POS data with your payment processing to tell you not only which items on your menu are selling well, but what dishes are bringing customers back. Know which items to push and which to ‘86.
Psyched to Buy, in Groups
You might think that this column is about Groupon.com, the white-hot Web site whose coupons save you 50 to 90 percent at local businesses. But it’s not. It’s about psychology.
Each day, Groupon offers for sale a deep-discount coupon from a business in your town. It might be a $25 coupon that buys you a $50 bike tune-up, or a $40 coupon for a $90 massage, or $25 for $100 worth of fitness classes. The coupons aren’t actually distributed until a critical mass of people (50, for example) have clicked “Buy.” After all, shopkeepers can’t afford discounts that steep unless there’s something in it for them.
If not enough people express interest, the deal dies. No coupons are issued, and nobody’s out a cent.
Groupon is, therefore, a huge win-win-win. You save eyebrow-raising amounts of money. Local businesses pick up a landslide of new customers overnight without doing a lick of marketing on their own (a Phoenix aquarium, for example, sold 10,000 tickets in 24 hours). And Groupon collects half the money from those coupons. No wonder it became profitable after only seven months.
Now, this concept — Internet-organized group buying — has been tried many times before. Remember MobShop? Mercata? LetsBuyIt? They all worked, in principle, the same way.
But Groupon is suddenly everywhere you look — in the headlines, on Facebook, in dinnertime conversations. The company says that it operates in 175 North American cities and 500 overseas, has 54 million members and has saved them $1.6 billion so far. In fact, Groupon is the fastest-growing Web company in history, having attained a $1.5 billion value in only 18 months.
(On the other hand, not all of the dinnertime conversation about Groupon is positive. The company’s SuperBowl TV ads last weekend backfired. One seemed to belittle the oppression of Tibetans under Chinese rule — “The people of Tibet are in trouble. Their very culture is in jeopardy. But they still whip up an amazing fish curry!”— and struck many viewers as juvenile and insensitive.)
Frankly, I couldn’t understand the big deal about Groupon. Why is it such a superstar when so many competitors labor in obscurity?
The answer: clever psychology.
First of all, Groupon’s sales staff tries to cultivate deals that suit the audience in each city. If you’re in San Francisco, you get offers for Segway tours of vineyards, flying lessons and skateboarding gear. In New York City, you’re more likely to see huge discounts on music lessons, theater tickets and interesting restaurants. In most cities, you’re likely to spot lots of deals for spas and cosmetic surgery, which hints at the upscale female customers who constitute Groupon’s biggest buyers.
In suburban Connecticut, where I live, I saw offers like “$10 for $20 worth” of Italian food at a restaurant nearby, “$15 for $30 worth of dry cleaning,” and “$10 for $20 worth” of goods at Barnes & Noble. Since that’s all stuff I’d buy anyway, I took the plunge. I bought the Barnes & Noble coupon and the restaurant coupon.
A few hours later, I received my coupons by e-mail. They pointed out that I could avoid printing the coupons if I used the free Groupon app for iPhone or Android phones.
At the bookstore, I picked out a couple of books totaling $23. I showed my phone to the cashier, who had been trained to enter the Groupon codes. I was the ninth person that day to cash in.
I paid the $3 overage, and that was it. I loved it. I’d just gotten $10 worth of books free. It almost felt as if I’d shoplifted.
More psychology, of course. It’s absurd that I should have felt so giddy. I mean, is saving $10 such a landmark event? The last time you bought a house, a car or even a night at a hotel, did you haggle for another $10 off? You probably could have gotten it. But you didn’t.
Somehow, though, in the Groupon context, it feels like a steal. There’s something about the simple phrase, “$10 for $20 worth of stuff” that gets you.
Furthermore, your coupon is good for anything in the store. It’s not the same as a Half-Off Sale, where the store chooses what goods to discount.
That “tipping point” business — the minimum number of takers an offer has to have before it becomes valid — is part of the psychology, too. Sure, this element was created to protect the merchant’s interests. But let’s face it, the tipping-point requirement adds a certain thrill to the proceedings. You’re invested in the outcome.
Even the scarcity of deals — one each day — plays on your feelings. It adds to that sense of exclusivity and of serendipity.
So does the Groupon editors’ whimsical description of each deal. (“A beloved book is like an old friend: full of familiar stories, rich in endearing details and just as enjoyable when covered in highlighter,” began the Barnes & Noble coupon. “Make a new literary acquaintance with today’s Groupon.”)
Finally, Groupon also seems to be extraordinarily free of red tape and clutter. The fine print is labeled “The Fine Print” in a big bold font, and there’s not much to it: usually just an expiration date and “Limit one per person.”
In truth, there is more fine print. But it describes the whole concept, not any one particular deal. A few things can go wrong.
The biggest gotcha is that expiration date. Oh, it’s plenty generous — usually six months to a year. But you know how people are with coupons we forget them. We lose them. Once again, Groupon has built psychology into its business model. Every time someone forgets to use the coupon, that’s free money for Groupon and the merchant.
Some Twitterites complained that Groupon’s overwhelming something-for-nothing appeal persuades them to buy things they’re not actually interested in. (Kind of hard to blame Groupon for that one.)
Then there’s the Groupon Effect. Groupon lore is rife with stories of small businesses swamped by the response — a yoga studio, family photographer or helicopter-ride outfit getting 1,000 calls a day, for example. That kind of overload isn’t a win-win-win it’s a mess. (Groupon now encourages susceptible small businesses to set a maximum number of coupons for each deal.)
Finally, the occasional deal goes wrong. When I asked my Twitter followers (I’m @pogue) about their Groupon experiences, most — both customers and merchants — were ebullient. But a few reported flawed transactions, shelves picked clean by Groupon hordes and businesses that had gone under since the coupon was offered. (Groupon issues prompt refunds in that case.)
But never mind all that this Internet trend is on fire. Groupon imitators are everywhere.
For example, LivingSocial, Groupon’s closest competitor, is in 175 cities and says it has 20 million members who have saved $300 million. Its also offers sub-services dedicated to deals for family activities and fixed-price travel getaways.
Then there’s BuyWithMe (12 cities you have a week to buy rather than a day) BloomSpot (eight cities, several offers a week) CrowdSavings.com (six cities, no tipping point) GiltCity (six cities luxury stuff like restaurants, spas, museums, galleries no tipping point) Jasmere (price goes down the more people buy in). That doesn’t even count Weforia, Coupme, Groop Swoop, Groupalia, TownHog, TeamGrab, Agenzy, DailyQ, Tippr, Woot, Ideeli and eWinWin. Like Groupon, most give you financial kickbacks for roping your friends into getting involved.
These group-buying sites represent an effective, no-strings blessing in tough economic times. You really should try them. There’s very little risk, and an enormous upside: the triumphant feeling of having gotten something for nothing.
And now, if you don’t mind, I have to wrap this up. I’m off to order $50 worth of Italian food that I bought for $25.
Wise for Some Restaurants, Coupons Are a Drain at Others
MARC MURPHY, who owns four restaurants in New York, gets pitched by salespeople all the time. But these days most of them seem to be selling the same thing: online deal ploys.
“Everyone and their mother is walking in the door with discount sites,” he said. Still, Mr. Murphy was taken aback by a conversation he had on the subway not long ago when another passenger recognized him from a television appearance. As they talked, the stranger mentioned that a friend of his had started a Web site that sold coupons for dining out. “Then he started pitching it right there,” Mr. Murphy recalled with amazement. “How many more of these can there be?”
With more than a dozen deal sites born each week, there is no end in sight. Groupon, BlackboardEats, VillageVines and hundreds of other ventures are hurling sales-force cadres at restaurant managers. The newbies join the venerable Restaurant.com as well as Open Table, Yelp, LivingSocial, Gilt City, DailyCandy, Thrillist and a host of others. Mike Scotese, an owner of the Grey Lodge Pub in Philadelphia, said he has rejected “15 different Groupon clones.”
Each site insists that its own proprietary Web gimmick will counter recession blahs with new-customer buzz while building repeat business. As millions of hungry bargain-hunters click on these dining deals, restaurant owners say it is unclear whether the great online social-coupon gold rush is the future of American eating or a new, faster way to go out of business.
“If you buy in, you may not make money,” said Mr. Murphy, who is the vice president of the New York City chapters of the New York State Restaurant Association. “Yet maybe you should be out there,” he added, because no restaurateur can bear being left behind.
Diners hardly seem conflicted. “When you’re trying to save money, a discount doesn’t hurt,” said Lauren E. LaRusso, 25, a graduate student in education at the University of Pennsylvania. “I assume that most of the other people at the restaurant don’t have coupons, and I feel good, that I’m a little smarter than them.”
And some sites seem to be prospering. Groupon rejected a $6 billion offer from Google and has its sights on an initial public offering that could value the company at nearly $25 billion. That figure strikes some analysts as overly optimistic, but Groupon’s cash flow (the company typically keeps half of revenue from coupons honored at participating restaurants) certainly looks enviable.
Many of the sites are leveraging their power by combining with social-networking powerhouses like Facebook and Twitter, and enhancing their usefulness with geographical overlays and mobile applications. Beyond the startups, legions of traditional brick-and-mortar businesses are jumping in, including The New York Times, which has announced it will offer daily e-mail deals, including some at restaurants.
The ones left struggling with this new math are the restaurateurs. As they run the numbers, the restaurateurs fall into several camps. The least conflicted are the cheerleaders.
“Our life changed after Groupon — we would do it again,” said Michele Casadei Massari, 35, an owner of two Piccolo Cafes in Manhattan. Groupon sells its online coupons for half their food value and then Groupon takes an additional 50 percent of the discount sales. On March 1, in a timed deal, Piccolo Cafe sold 1,142 coupons for $14 worth of food in 24 hours.
“You don’t make money on the deal,” Mr. Massari acknowledged, “but in the end we are even.”
That’s because “people spend more than on the coupon amount,” he said. “They’ve been ordering about double the $14 from us. And people usually bring other customers, who are paying full price.”Image
Beyond that, among those who are redeeming coupons, “80 percent have come back without a coupon,” he said.
Deal sites are catnip to restaurateurs because they purport to offer instant solutions to two enduring conundrums: how to get the word out when your place is new or (worse) no longer new, and how to fill seats on slow days and at slow times.
“Think of how much it would cost you to hire public relations people, though you’re never sure what media will be interested,” Mr. Massari said. “But Groupon gave us a massive marketing campaign that a small business like ours would never be able to afford.”
And VillageVines and many other sites offer restaurateurs the promise of guiding discount patrons to undesirable reservation times.
But antagonists are fomenting a deal backlash. “When I go out to eat, I won’t use a coupon — the whole thing is getting over on somebody, and it feels yucky to me,” said Monica Byrne, 46, a chef and a partner in the 40-seat Home/Made cafe in Red Hook, Brooklyn, which is deal-site free.
She prefers to believe that “people want to eat out in places they really love and try to combine what they love with good value,” Ms. Byrne added. “And we already offer that.”
And she said serenely that, in the end, the discount bubble must collapse when enough coupon-scarred restaurants refuse to do Web deals.
To some, the bubble has already burst. After Ed Brown, of Ed’s Chowderhouse in Manhattan, gave a few luxe deal sites a spin, he concluded that “the discount doesn’t bring any more money to the bottom line.” He added, “There is no way you’ll ever make money on them, and we didn’t.”
“So then what’s the sense of it?” he asked. “You might as well pay them a few dollars and ask them not to come to your restaurant.”
Beyond that, nightmare tales abound on the Internet of hapless small businesses badgered by sales representatives into ruinous online discount programs, and harassed by obnoxious coupon customers. A cautionary tale is that of Posies Bakery and Cafe in Portland, Ore., which blogged ruefully last year about its $8,000 Groupon loss.
Then there’s the restaurateur who turned to poetry in an agony of deal angst. Lori Mason, an owner of Klee Brasserie in Manhattan, wrote a seven-stanza “Restaurateur’s Response to the Discount Age” for the restaurant’s newsletter, including this cri de coeur:
“You pay half & Klee gets a shilling/while the kids at Groupon make another killing.”
“I am clearly no poet, but I did provoke a response,” said the author, who emphasized that restaurants don’t have the luxury of paying their landlords, staff members and purveyors with discount coupons. Klee Brasserie has offered discounts on sites that included Open Table, Gilt City, BlackboardEats, VillageVines, Groupon and DoodleDeals. “But it’s hard to know how any of it pans out,” she said.
Certainly many deal-site customers dismiss the idea that they are cheapskates. “I don’t feel that we’re exploiting these restaurants,” said Lauren Hinkle, 26, a transcriptionist in Boston. “If there’s a problem, maybe it’s Groupon’s fault or the restaurant’s fault for not looking at their finances.”
She said that she had no problem with tipping servers on the full, undiscounted value of the meal, adding that some restaurants “go ahead and include the tip on the check, and that’s fair to the servers,” a sentiment echoed by many discount-seekers.
Currently many restaurateurs navigating these waters can best be described as situationists, practicing highly selective dealsmanship. “The wisest way to look at it is as a marketing cost,” said Rick Camac, a managing partner of the Fatty Crew of five New York restaurants. “We used Groupon once, but it was not our demographic, it was the lower end of the dining scale.”
And so he went back to the drawing board with VillageVines, “given their higher-end clientele,” he said, and used the site’s software to fill Fatty Crab seats in slack times.
Dan Leahy, a founder and the president of VillageVines, said that “ours is not a service for people who like a cheap night out.” Restaurants have high fixed costs for food, real estate and labor, and so VillageVines offers deals as an exercise in “restaurant yield management,” summoning the calculus that helps airplanes to take off with fewer empty seats.
“We are targeting restaurants that are 70 or 80 percent full,” Mr. Leahy said, “focusing on those times when tables don’t turn.” He has introduced discounts to Le Cirque, Aquavit and Delmonico’s.
Groupon, which says it has 60 million subscribers, is adding Groupon Now, a GPS-based app offering local discounts that are time-specific so restaurants can experiment with off-peak pricing. Other high-end sites have rejected the Groupon model in favor of their strategies.
“Our customers are not coupon clippers, they are sophisticated diners who don’t want to be shoved into reservation modules in the non-blacked-out times,” said Maggie Nemser, 31, the founder and editor in chief of BlackboardEats, a boutique site that, she said, has close to 200,000 subscribers and has featured more than 350 restaurants in a year and a half, including the Mermaid Inn, the Harrison and Telepan in New York.
After the site’s sales team persuades a restaurant to be featured, BlackboardEats sends anonymous reviewers who pay for their meals and write critiques for the Web site. “And if they don’t have a good experience, we can’t feature the restaurant,” Ms. Nemser said. The Web site does not take half the restaurant’s discount sales, but instead makes its money through advertising.
If beckoning Web sites are diverse, so are the discount seekers. Vinicius Vacanti, a founder and the chief executive of Yipit.com, an aggregator site that sorts deals from more than 350 Web sites in 20 cities, said that 10 percent of Americans are coupon-clippers. Even as he adds 20 new deal sites a week, however, Mr. Vacanti pointed out that the dining majority is not discounting.
Indeed, Jessie Schupack, the director of communications for Mr. Murphy’s two Landmarc restaurants, said that “the customers who are paying full price are subsidizing the discounters,” and added, “So how long does it take for patrons to think, ‘Why should I ever pay full price?’ ”
If that kind of thinking catches on, restaurateurs will start to wonder what kind of bargain they have struck.
“These sites seem like pop-up businesses that will disappear,” said Ms. Mason, the versifier. “But I worry that when they wash away, and the tide pulls back, everyone will be expecting the kind of discounts that make it impossible for small businesses to stay afloat.”
How to Properly Pour Prosecco So the Bottle Doesn't Go to Waste
More than one million bottles of Prosecco will go to waste this holiday season because it's being poured all wrong.
According to newly released statistics from Asda𠅊 British supermarket chain𠅁.5 million bottles of Prosecco will go to waste this holiday season (that’s around 9.5 glasses) because most people don’t know how to properly pour the celebratory drink𠅊 true tragedy that can be easily avoided. Admit it, sometimes you get a little too excited at the holiday party and shake the bottle. Maybe you want to impress your hometown crush, who you’re seeing for the first time in three years, so you pop the cork. Sure, it’s a cool-looking move, but it creates a sticky mess on your presumably fancy party outfit, and your guests only get a drop of Prosecco in their flute. Don’t be one of those people who waste their fancy Champagne or Prosecco. How can you unlearn every pop culture Campagne bottle-popping moment you’ve seen up to this point? Luckily, our very own Executive Wine Editor Ray Isle, as well as Morgan Harris, head sommelier at the Michelin-starred restaurant Aureole in New York City, are here with all the tips and tricks you need to know to pour bubbly drinks without wasting a drop.
First of all, you must make sure your Prosecco is cold when you serve it, according to Isle. Serving the bottle cold ensures that it won’t 𠇏oam over and spill valuable wine when you open it.” If you’re in a celebratory mood, and have a cheap bottle of Prosecco handy, though, Isle adds that serving it warm will ensure that you “spray Prosecco all over everyone.”
Shaking the bottle before opening it (as you’ve probably seen happen many times in the movies) is another sure fire way to make the Prosecco explode all over yourself and your guests, Isle warns. A better way to open the bottle is to, “put a dishtowel over the cork, hold the cork in one hand and the bottle in the other, and then slowly twist the bottle [while] holding the cork firm.”
Harris offers an alternative method.
“I generally hold onto the cork and then gently twist the bottom of the bottle back and forth, easing the cork out,” he says. “There&aposs no problem with a celebratory pop, but I agree that wine all over your floor is never a good thing. Also, Prosecco only has [around] 3 atmospheres of pressure, so in general, they&aposll be a little harder to open than Champagne or Cremant, which generally has 5 to 6 atmospheres of pressure in the bottle. This is also why Prosecco&aposs bubbles are generally a little frothier, and not quite as fine as Champagne-method sparklers.”
Once you’ve got the bottle open, Isle recommends pouring an ounce of liquid in the glass to start with, then letting the foam subside before pouring the rest, which keeps “the bubbles from rising up and overflowing [in] the glass.”
Harris mentions that it’s acceptable to pour the champagne into your glass at either an angle or on a flat surface, 𠇋ut if you&aposre going to pour [the glasses] on a table, it just takes a little patience," because it&aposs likely to be fizzier from that position. He suggests even chilling your glasses for a few minutes before pouring the drinks, so that the bubbles are “more well-behaved.”
If you have any wine leftover once everyone has a full glass, cork the bottle with a Champagne stopper, which will allow you to refrigerate your bottle without losing its bubbles.
In case you missed it, here are more tips on how to properly serve Champagne and Prosecco (including why you should hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle)𠅊nd the mistakes you might be making when drinking it.
The Problem with Groupon
The 20 most recent offers I received from Groupon ranged from City Scavenger Hunts to Private Kangoo Classes. All were for 50 to 81 percent off the list price. Unless I suddenly became starved (Arthur Treacher's!?), gay (hot yoga), divorced (massage), or Jeffrey Lebowski (bowling), there is zero chance I'd use any of them.
That's just one problem with Groupon.
Then there's the problem of the way it works when you do use it. Everyone knows the basic idea: Local businesses agree to sell a product or service worth, say, $20 for $10. Groupon then offers that deal for one day only to its gigantic list of bargain hunters. If enough of them agree to pay $10, the deal goes "live" &mdash the merchant gets $5 and Groupon gets $5. That leaves merchants with a 75 percent haircut.
But the biggest problem with Groupon is that it can't seem to turn its novel, clever, simple idea into a real business. One that, you know, makes a profit and accurately reports its results to investors. Groupon could have been a gorgeous niche company. It could have stayed clever and small enough that it wasn't forced to offer 43-year-old suburban dads a hot-yoga class.
Now I'm worried about the very future of this company. I'm worried about June 1, when Groupon's employee lockups expire and its shares will flood the market. I'm worried that a really great idea is going to be undone by half-baked execution.
Although Groupon has been the target of many imitators, locally and nationally, what it does is tougher than it looks. Just as eBay easily withstood auction challenges from Amazon and Yahoo, the guy who moves first has a meaningful advantage. But Groupon's bigger advantage is surprisingly low tech &mdash its army of 1950s-style salespeople provides an old-fashioned network of guys with contacts and experience that isn't easy to replicate.
The deals were attractive to customers, and the revenue growth was catnip for investors.
Groupon became the first start-up ever to raise just under a billion in venture capital. The interest was so intense that in December 2010, Groupon had an offer from Google for an absurd $6 billion, with more than half of that in cash &mdash that would have been eight times revenues. And infinity times profit, considering the company was losing millions per quarter as it pursued revenue growth.
That's when the company started to scare me. I'd seen this movie. When a company has skyrocketing revenues and no profits, I hear the ringing of 1999.
Groupon decided to go it alone and go public. Amid reports that its attitude toward accounting was as whimsical as its daily deal summaries, the company had to cut its reported revenues in half last fall after the SEC probed its financials. Then, just before the offering in early November, the company filed its Q3 financials.
Sites like PrivCo beat the hell out of it, noting that quarter-to-quarter revenue growth had slowed to less than 10 percent (despite the billion in venture capital!) while user revenue continued to fall &mdash a sign that robust users were already members, while the expensive-to-acquire new users weren't spending that much. PrivCo put the value of the forthcoming shares at $8. It didn't matter. The stock came out at 20 in November and immediately jumped to above 25. And then history repeated itself.
Wall Street had been guided to expect a gain of 3 cents a share for the last quarter of 2011 on revenue of just over $500 million. Instead, the company announced a loss of 2 cents a share. And then it got worse. In April, Groupon confessed to a "material weakness in its internal controls" and reduced its already-announced quarterly revenue by $14.3 million. Now the loss was 4 cents a share. The stock got killed, dropping to just above $11. Worse, the company's guidance suggested revs of less than $550 million &mdash a tiny jump for a company whose entire story was explosive growth. I'm worried about May 14, when Q1 earnings are released.
But I'm way more worried about the original foaming at the mouth surrounding Groupon's IPO. Groupon was a great idea. It could have evolved organically and developed the highly targeted data that would have allowed it to grow its customer base but also its spend per customer, which instead has been plummeting as it adds marginal users and sends them inappropriate offers. The market wouldn't allow it.
Everyone knew this deal had problems, both with the company and with its math. And no one cared. Even as the world seems transformed by online shopping/banking/investing/dating, the truth is we're at the very earliest stages of Web 2.0. One by one, the old world is crumbling &mdash bookstores and record stores, Blockbuster and now Best Buy. But the chaos is ushering in some of the same tendencies we saw destroy a ton of capital the first time.
When Facebook pays a billion bucks for Instagram &mdash valuing its 13 employees at something like $77 million each &mdash it makes some sense. It's a transformative application with a booming space its acquirer wants and can afford. And there's a company called WhaleShark that owns a bunch of small-fry coupon sites like RetailMeNot and CouponShare &mdash it's pretty much the exact opposite of Groupon in that it provides a small discount on things that customers really do want (e.g., 75 cents off a bottle of Tide). Sounds dowdy, but I predict it'll be the single greatest Web IPO of the year when it happens, and that's saying something given Facebook's imminent launch.
These are the deals that will move this space forward. But a few Groupon implosions and the whole space could be paralyzed for years.
Groupon Gives Restaurants Greater Control Over Promotions
Today, Groupon announced several additions to its popular Deal Builder tool for merchants that expand the platform to include restaurants and provide all businesses with greater control over the appearance and structure of their promotion.
Deal Builder, which launched earlier this year and lives on GrouponWorks.com, is a convenient, 24/7 self-service option for merchants to construct their own Groupon deal and has been used to create more than 25,000 deals by local businesses in all 50 U.S. states and Canada.
“Deal Builder has enabled us to vastly expand the number of merchants with whom we work and enhance the ways we help them promote and build their business through Groupon,” says Julie Szudarek, senior vice president, Local Deals. “More than 95 percent of the businesses that have built deals through the platform have been new to Groupon, which has helped us expand the selection and geographic reach of our marketplace.”
Deal Builder now empowers all local businesses––with the new addition of restaurants––to do the following:
- Select an Image – Choose a deal image from more than 5,000 category-specific stock photos.
- Write a summary – Tell potential customers the key things they need to know about the business to make an offer standout.
- More Flexible Deal Structures – Choose from a greater number of deal examples to create the perfect Groupon promotion.
- Conduct an Interview – Fill out a brief question and answer interview that gets added to the live Groupon deal page, highlighting the aspects of the business and adding a personal touch to the promotion.
With the addition of restaurants, Deal Builder is now available to all local businesses. The most popular categories since the platform’s debut are services (photography, automotive, cleaning), beauty and wellness (salons and spas), leisure and activities (fitness), and retail and shopping.
Groupon’s local ecommerce marketplace had more than 240,000 active deals globally and more than 105,000 in North America at the end of Q2.
News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by FSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.
Oracle's Groupon-Sized Problem
The added twist to Oracle 's nasty earnings surprise: The software giant has recently added a Groupon -sized sales force.
Over the past 18 months, Oracle has increased its sales staff by "over 4,000" co-president Mark Hurd said during Wednesday's investor conference call. Groupon has nearly 4,700 sales staff in its fifth year after launch (though that number peaked at over 5,700 a year ago).
More heads and flat sales mean sales productivity is clearly down. And while this could reflect salespeople getting up to speed in their new territories, it may also be the case that some of Oracle's older software products are losing their appeal – not unlike Groupon's daily deals.
Meanwhile, "bizarrely" as Raymond James analyst Michael Turits describes it, the company has now missed its own hardware revenue guidance in seven out of the past eight quarters. Oracle has previously said it was dumping unprofitable business it inherited from Sun Microsystems when it bought the company to get into hardware, which would be one thing holding back revenue growth. Still, that's no excuse for Oracle to be consistently missing its own targets.