6 Self-Service Platforms to Help Merchants Maintain Control Over Daily Deals

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Having worked with half a dozen of the top deal publishers in the past two years, Savvy Cellar Wines owner Brent Harrison is well versed in the benefits of daily deal promotions. He’s also aware of the drawbacks. In exchange for the privilege of working with deal companies like Groupon and LivingSocial, Harrison feels he’s given up some control of the deals he offers. For Harrison and other merchants tired of dealing with low profit margins and limits on the restrictions they can apply to these deals, self-service platforms may be the solution.

Self-service platforms give merchants more control over their deals, including how much they make. But what you get in the details you lose in reach. Instead of relying on a deal company’s massive database of prospective customer email addresses, merchants using self-service platforms have to get creative. Some platforms require that merchants supply their own customer contact information, while others provide ways to reach new clients through social networking or by partnering with established hyperlocal vendors.

For business owners up to the task of developing and managing their own daily deals, here are six self-service platforms worth checking out.

1. DealingLocal
DealingLocal is all about the now, letting merchants set up real-time discounts for new and existing customers. Rather than paying commission to a company like Groupon, DealingLocal merchants pay a monthly subscription fee (from $19 to $49) based on the number of registered customers on their marketing lists. Merchants with fewer than 50 customers on their marketing lists can use the service for free. The company also offers a co-marketing solution that neighborhood merchants can use to cross-promote one another’s ongoing deals.

2. Signpost
Don’t have a large database of emails? No problem. Signpost helps SMBs create their own offers with fees that are much lower than traditional deal sites and promotes its clients’ deals through partnerships with Yellow Pages, AOL, and Google. Signpost also offers businesses a way to get their deals posted by publishers like Tippr and Dealster for significantly less than the 50% commission fee deal companies typically charge. Basic plans with Signpost start at $99 per month.

3. Rally Commerce
Rally Commerce is for online merchants only and requires clients to set up a store on Rally’s social commerce platform before creating and publishing deals through a variety of channels. The platform guides merchants through the process of creating deals tabs on their Facebook pages, where they can promote their offers to fans online. Like many self-service platforms, Rally Commerce gives merchants access to all the customer data that’s collected when customers redeem their deals. Merchants can expect to pay 10 percent commission fees to Rally Commerce, which is significantly less than the 50% or more required by companies like Groupon.

4. Pageable
Pageable handles the design, programming, and hosting of deals, and ensures that every deal page theme comes with a built-in lead capture form. The rest is up to you. This self-serve system lets users create, update, and post deals at any time. Lead capture forms can be linked to Constant Contact or MailChimp accounts for follow-up with customers who’ve purchased their instant deals online. Pageable pricing ranges from $24 to $199 per month, depending on the number of deals a merchant decides to publish.

5. Deal Share
Businesses that rely heavily on Facebook for marketing will want to check out Deal Share, a self-service application from North Social that can be used to launch special deals and offers on Facebook fan pages. Deal Share’s deal customization tools let local merchants place useful restrictions on their offers, like limiting the number for sale and the length of time that a deal is live. The service is especially useful for businesses that want to increase their number of Facebook fans, since deal buyers are required to “like” a merchant’s page before interacting with current deals. Merchants can choose from a handful of pricing plans ranging from $19.99 to $149.99 per month based on their Facebook fan counts and customer support needs.

6. GoSteals
When it comes to rock bottom pricing, it’s hard to beat GoSteals. The self-service platform is 100% free for merchants to use. GoSteals doesn’t actually accept payments for the deals on its site, but instead invites customers to print out the deals they find and pay the merchants directly upon redemption. Although merchants don’t have quite as many options when designing and distributing deals through GoSteals, they still retain control of the biggies, like timing, value, and customer contact information.

Have other self-service platforms to note? Leave a description in the comments.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.