Groupon is a very stealthy Company. They very quietly acquired Zappedy last week for about $10 buck. Zappedy is an ecommerce platform for small businesses.
So what you say? This is a big move for Groupon. Their previous acquisitions were either other 'deal' sites like German CityDeals or Companies that could bolster their core offering like US based Pelago who made location focused software.
Zappedy shows that Groupon is thinking beyond the quick hit revenue associated with coupons. The bulk of Groupon customers are small businesses that typically lack sophisticated ecommerce, crm, or marketing systems. This acquisition could let them offer a 'full service' suite to customers.
It's way too early to tell if this would be successful, but it’s a great idea. Most small retailers are a mess when it comes to their online presence. If Groupon can expand upon their coupon model and give them a fast, well integrated solution they'll fill a major gap and open up some great revenue opportunities.
And Groupon needs to continue to build revenue. The Company has been running at a loss since 2008, citing marketing costs as the primary reason. That's a tough spend to keep up, especially since Forbes has identified 484 competitors offering similar solutions. They need a stronger base of recurring revenue that isn't necessarily tied to marketing coupons. Back office systems would be a great fit.
This is important to watch for our manufacturing clients. If Groupon continues their growth and essentially builds a huge base of small retailers that are committed to their platform, they will become a new hybrid sales channel - part marketing, part promotions, part back office - all controlled by one tech firm.