February 10, 2014, 11:06 AM

Groupon offers merchants a DIY tool

The daily deal operator rolls out an automated way for e-retailers and other businesses to craft discount promotions. Groupon aims to expand the number of deals on its site.

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Groupon Inc. is giving e-retailers and other business owners an automated way to offer discount promotions on its site and mobile apps.

The new tool, which Groupon calls Deal Builder, lets e-retailers and other businesses select from an array of deal templates. Once a merchant selects a template, Groupon guides him through the process of creating an offer. If a merchant encounters an issue or has a question while creating a deal, he can click a live chat button to reach a Groupon sales representative.

The daily deal operator, which announced the tool today, says the Deal Builder will vastly expand the number of deals it offers on its site and mobile apps.

“With the launch of Deal Builder, we now have a customizable solution for the thousands of merchants that contact us directly every month wanting to run a deal,” says Dan Roarty, vice president of product development at Groupon. “By expanding the number of ways that merchants can work with Groupon, we’re providing our customers with even more great local business options when they want to do or buy just about anything, anywhere, anytime.”

Groupon’s new self-service tool is the latest move by the daily deal operator to lessen its reliance on e-mail marketing. Direct e-mail accounted for less than 40% of transactions in North America in the third quarter, virtually unchanged from the second quarter but down from about 45% in the first quarter, Groupon says.

In place of e-mail marketing, Groupon has encouraged consumers to download its mobile app, which it recently redesigned. The mobile app, which nearly 60 million consumers worldwide have downloaded, follows customers as they travel, whether to another city or to a different country. When the app detects that a mobile customer’s location has changed, it sends a push notification when she is in range of nearby Groupon deals, such as an offer for a nearby restaurant. Inside the app, local deals are automatically displayed based on the customer’s current location rather than her hometown.

Groupon, No. 65 in the 2013 Top 500 Guide, also encourages shoppers to search its site for deals. The daily deal operator in November enhanced its site search to span all its offers from local deals to places to travel to goods to restaurant reservations and live events. For every search or browse click, the results are displayed along with a set of filters that simultaneously showcase Groupon’s selection of deals and enable customers to drill deeper into specific categories and collections based on their interests.

In other Groupon news, the daily deal operator today announced Jeffrey Holden, senior vice president, product management, will leave the company next month. Groupon did not announce a replacement.

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