The first mover in digital fire sales, Groupon
The telltale acquisition
Groupon just purchased FeeFighters, a website that allows businesses to comparison shop for credit card processing. There's a reason some small businesses abhor credit cards, especially for small transactions: A proportion goes to the credit card processors, and that can add up. FeeFighters claims that on average, businesses save 40% on credit card processing bills when using its service. So why would Groupon want to buy FeeFighters?
Because it seems Groupon is shifting toward offering a set of services that local merchants can adopt to better run their businesses. Along with FeeFighters, Groupon released a free scheduler to small businesses in order to help manage online bookings and appointments. Groupon will be able to reap the goodwill from businesses that use its tools, while opening up communication for a continued relationship with the merchants.
It's clear that CEO Andrew Mason meant the words in his letter that was filed with Groupon's IPO: "Expect us to make ambitious bets on our future that distract us from our current business. Some bets we'll get right, and others we'll get wrong, but we think it's the only way to continuously build disruptive products." Groupon isn't content to rest with the business model that is widely criticized as easily cloned and without much of a competitive advantage. And it shouldn't be content, with a behemoth like Amazon.com
Of course, this means if you invest with Groupon, you are counting on whatever potential genius idea Andrew Mason uncovers. Will a focus on providing beneficial services to businesses outside of Groupon's work in the long run? I believe it can't hurt, and I can't wait to see what else distracts Groupon from coupons.
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