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

9 thoughts on “6 Self-Service Platforms to Help Merchants Maintain Control Over Daily Deals

  1. Good summary, Stephanie.  I’d certainly add Closely.com into the mix, with a caveat. 

    The vast majority of merchants do not have the time, desire or (often) skill/comfort with a DIY approach.  

    The “DIY opportunity” is, in part, exaggerated by the cream skim pricing of early entrants.  As we all know, these 50% margins are not holding, and as they creep down, the incentive for merchants to self-serve diminishes. 

    All to say, yes – we’ve developed a self-service platform for merchants, but with an “agent layer” that powers a cooperative model between the merchant role/activity and the services provided by agency and channel partners. 

    The distribution network is also absolutely critical, as you’ve noted.  Relying on social media, or even  email lists collected over time by SMB’s, will very rarely deliver lead volumes desired by merchants.  

    And, finally – the value in merchant centered solutions is not in a cheaper version of daily deals – it is in the power of an integrated and simplified approach to promotion marketing that embraces customer, social, search and premium distribution. 

    It’s about demonstrable value through yield management and converting obtuse ad spend models into more powerful commerce and return engagement marketing practices. 

  2. I’d like to introduce Qwikon.com to the mix as well. We have a slightly different approach. Qwikon has taken the KISS approach in developing a solution for SMBs to manage their own deal offerings. Leveraging the immediacy of text messaging with a simple to use interface, a merchant can create and send a deal to their opt-in customer base in under a minute. 97% of text messages are read in minutes, and text based coupons have redemption rates in the 10-30% range.

    Using Qwikon, a business can now fill capacity almost in real time. Our focus is on helping SMBs increase their customers lifetime value through improved communications, not giving away the store!

  3. Great article Stephanie, and thanks for including Signpost. I agree with all Perry Evans is saying, in particular re seeing most of these services as broader and more meaningful than just deals and also that pure DIY is not a great fit with local businesses. At Signpost we call our approach an “assisted self-serve” platform where we ask merchants to provide the basic information about their business, and we then develop a marketing campaign and offer that is attractive to our publishers and their audience of local consumers.

  4. Stephanie – you’ve hit a hot topic and I’d like to echo the sentiments from Perry, Jacco and Rick.  Additionally, it would be fitting to add both Privy (my company, in full disclosure) and perhaps ThinkNear to the mix (shout out to Ely).

    There are three main issues in this space: (1) deal/promotion creation (content and quality), (2) Distribution network, (3) Payment structure

    (1) It is true that business owners do not have the time to construct their own deals.  Many very small businesses (>10 employees) barely have time to talk to someone about setting up a deal they want, whether that’s an agency, consultant or sales rep.  At Privy, we have developed an auto-suggester, that offers a promotions suggestion against your intent, a little basic information on your business and historic best practice data so you can be up and running a smart promotion in just 2 clicks.

    (2) The second issue is distribution – depending on what the merchant wants (acquisition vs loyalty) different networks are in order.  We’ve learned that while it is important to acquire new customers, it can be costly and the customers can be inconsistent after their first visit, especially is the distribution list isn’t curated to the business and is, therefore, low quality customers..  ThinkNear does an excellent job getting customers who are close to a store and in a buying mindset (e.g. Hungry) to come visit immediately.  

    We’ve also been told by tons of small businesses that there is substantial value in re-engaging high quality, existing customers to come back more frequently, which costs less and can be substantially more profitable to businesses.  That’s why we created a system that allows businesses to launch and track any custom promotion in just one click across their website, Facebook page, twitter following and email database that is transactable online.  It also incentivizes consumers who view the promotion to share it, to engage word of mouth marketing with a call to action.

    (3) 5 of the above services require you to pay a monthly fee.  If you talk to small businesses, especially brick and mortar ones, they are hesitant to pay for something before they know it will work – $99 a month is steep price to pay before knowing you’ll get a huge ROI from it.  We’ve found that aligning the pricing structure with the success of a merchant (in the form of a low transaction fee) is much more convenient for businesses and also helps them succeed by being cost promotive.

    In all, there are a plethora of options and it depends on what a business wants.  If they are looking for flash sales of product they want to liquidate, that’s very different than driving deep loyalty or finding exclusively new customers that live within a specific radius of their home.

    Perry nailed it – it’s all about demonstrable value.  If a merchant does not have to spend a lot of time, nor outlay a lot of cash, to run a promotion that will drive quality customers into their store, it is a home run.

  5. Jacob, you make a lot of good points. A one-size-fits-all approach just doesn’t work with SMB marketing, and the platform a business chooses really has to depend on what its goals are going into the promotion (as well as its willingness to stomach the costs). Privy, ThinkNear, Closely, and Quikon are all great platforms that serve merchants in slightly different ways based on their needs. This piece focused strictly on deal platforms for local merchants going the DIY route, but obviously that isn’t a route that every merchant is going to feel comfortable taking. In the coming weeks I’m planning on doing more pieces on deal platforms suited for merchants with all different types of needs. I’d love to get your recommendations on any others I should consider, as well as any trends/issues you’re hearing from the merchants themselves.

    1. Stephanie – thanks for the response and my apologies in not responding sooner as I just saw that you posted.  I’d love to chat.  What’s the best way to reach you?  I’m available at jake@getprivy.com.  Would love to chat.  – J

  6. Stephanie – thanks for the shout out to DealingLocal (my company). 

    Whether DIY or Full Service, deal services biggest shortcoming is distribution. Aside from Groupon and LivingSocial, no deal provider can afford the mass marketing to attract enough consumer attention to be relevant at the local level.

    Re-targeting existing customers may be effective for businesses that have a large social following or email list. However I am skeptical that many merchants will pay commissions for selling to their existing customers.

    To get around the chicken-and-egg problem of deal and consumer inventory, we provide the tools for local businesses to build their own networks. We give them online signup forms and offline signage to grow their customer network. We also help them build a network of local merchants to reach a new audience of ‘regulars’ shopping in their area.

    I’m not going to be buying Groupon stock, but hopefully their success has demonstrated that online marketing can be effective for offline merchants.

     

  7. Excellent tips. It is important to have the right tools. I recommend you Trisocial ( http://www.trisocial.com ) they have an extensive suite of apps to customize the fanpages and to do contests and promotions and to launch special deals and offers on Facebook fan pages. Regards!

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9 thoughts on “6 Self-Service Platforms to Help Merchants Maintain Control Over Daily Deals

  1. Good summary, Stephanie.  I’d certainly add Closely.com into the mix, with a caveat. 

    The vast majority of merchants do not have the time, desire or (often) skill/comfort with a DIY approach.  

    The “DIY opportunity” is, in part, exaggerated by the cream skim pricing of early entrants.  As we all know, these 50% margins are not holding, and as they creep down, the incentive for merchants to self-serve diminishes. 

    All to say, yes – we’ve developed a self-service platform for merchants, but with an “agent layer” that powers a cooperative model between the merchant role/activity and the services provided by agency and channel partners. 

    The distribution network is also absolutely critical, as you’ve noted.  Relying on social media, or even  email lists collected over time by SMB’s, will very rarely deliver lead volumes desired by merchants.  

    And, finally – the value in merchant centered solutions is not in a cheaper version of daily deals – it is in the power of an integrated and simplified approach to promotion marketing that embraces customer, social, search and premium distribution. 

    It’s about demonstrable value through yield management and converting obtuse ad spend models into more powerful commerce and return engagement marketing practices. 

  2. I’d like to introduce Qwikon.com to the mix as well. We have a slightly different approach. Qwikon has taken the KISS approach in developing a solution for SMBs to manage their own deal offerings. Leveraging the immediacy of text messaging with a simple to use interface, a merchant can create and send a deal to their opt-in customer base in under a minute. 97% of text messages are read in minutes, and text based coupons have redemption rates in the 10-30% range.

    Using Qwikon, a business can now fill capacity almost in real time. Our focus is on helping SMBs increase their customers lifetime value through improved communications, not giving away the store!

  3. Great article Stephanie, and thanks for including Signpost. I agree with all Perry Evans is saying, in particular re seeing most of these services as broader and more meaningful than just deals and also that pure DIY is not a great fit with local businesses. At Signpost we call our approach an “assisted self-serve” platform where we ask merchants to provide the basic information about their business, and we then develop a marketing campaign and offer that is attractive to our publishers and their audience of local consumers.

  4. Stephanie – you’ve hit a hot topic and I’d like to echo the sentiments from Perry, Jacco and Rick.  Additionally, it would be fitting to add both Privy (my company, in full disclosure) and perhaps ThinkNear to the mix (shout out to Ely).

    There are three main issues in this space: (1) deal/promotion creation (content and quality), (2) Distribution network, (3) Payment structure

    (1) It is true that business owners do not have the time to construct their own deals.  Many very small businesses (>10 employees) barely have time to talk to someone about setting up a deal they want, whether that’s an agency, consultant or sales rep.  At Privy, we have developed an auto-suggester, that offers a promotions suggestion against your intent, a little basic information on your business and historic best practice data so you can be up and running a smart promotion in just 2 clicks.

    (2) The second issue is distribution – depending on what the merchant wants (acquisition vs loyalty) different networks are in order.  We’ve learned that while it is important to acquire new customers, it can be costly and the customers can be inconsistent after their first visit, especially is the distribution list isn’t curated to the business and is, therefore, low quality customers..  ThinkNear does an excellent job getting customers who are close to a store and in a buying mindset (e.g. Hungry) to come visit immediately.  

    We’ve also been told by tons of small businesses that there is substantial value in re-engaging high quality, existing customers to come back more frequently, which costs less and can be substantially more profitable to businesses.  That’s why we created a system that allows businesses to launch and track any custom promotion in just one click across their website, Facebook page, twitter following and email database that is transactable online.  It also incentivizes consumers who view the promotion to share it, to engage word of mouth marketing with a call to action.

    (3) 5 of the above services require you to pay a monthly fee.  If you talk to small businesses, especially brick and mortar ones, they are hesitant to pay for something before they know it will work – $99 a month is steep price to pay before knowing you’ll get a huge ROI from it.  We’ve found that aligning the pricing structure with the success of a merchant (in the form of a low transaction fee) is much more convenient for businesses and also helps them succeed by being cost promotive.

    In all, there are a plethora of options and it depends on what a business wants.  If they are looking for flash sales of product they want to liquidate, that’s very different than driving deep loyalty or finding exclusively new customers that live within a specific radius of their home.

    Perry nailed it – it’s all about demonstrable value.  If a merchant does not have to spend a lot of time, nor outlay a lot of cash, to run a promotion that will drive quality customers into their store, it is a home run.

  5. Jacob, you make a lot of good points. A one-size-fits-all approach just doesn’t work with SMB marketing, and the platform a business chooses really has to depend on what its goals are going into the promotion (as well as its willingness to stomach the costs). Privy, ThinkNear, Closely, and Quikon are all great platforms that serve merchants in slightly different ways based on their needs. This piece focused strictly on deal platforms for local merchants going the DIY route, but obviously that isn’t a route that every merchant is going to feel comfortable taking. In the coming weeks I’m planning on doing more pieces on deal platforms suited for merchants with all different types of needs. I’d love to get your recommendations on any others I should consider, as well as any trends/issues you’re hearing from the merchants themselves.

    1. Stephanie – thanks for the response and my apologies in not responding sooner as I just saw that you posted.  I’d love to chat.  What’s the best way to reach you?  I’m available at jake@getprivy.com.  Would love to chat.  – J

  6. Stephanie – thanks for the shout out to DealingLocal (my company). 

    Whether DIY or Full Service, deal services biggest shortcoming is distribution. Aside from Groupon and LivingSocial, no deal provider can afford the mass marketing to attract enough consumer attention to be relevant at the local level.

    Re-targeting existing customers may be effective for businesses that have a large social following or email list. However I am skeptical that many merchants will pay commissions for selling to their existing customers.

    To get around the chicken-and-egg problem of deal and consumer inventory, we provide the tools for local businesses to build their own networks. We give them online signup forms and offline signage to grow their customer network. We also help them build a network of local merchants to reach a new audience of ‘regulars’ shopping in their area.

    I’m not going to be buying Groupon stock, but hopefully their success has demonstrated that online marketing can be effective for offline merchants.

     

  7. Excellent tips. It is important to have the right tools. I recommend you Trisocial ( http://www.trisocial.com ) they have an extensive suite of apps to customize the fanpages and to do contests and promotions and to launch special deals and offers on Facebook fan pages. Regards!

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