April 25, 2013, 12:24 PM

Groupon updates its mobile apps, giving search new prominence

And the e-retailer’s Android app now supports 10-inch tablets.

Lead Photo

The e-retailer has placed site search in the form of a magnifying glass icon on the bottom right of pages throughout its mobile app.

Daily deals e-retailer Groupon used to have a few deals of the day for consumers to check out and that was that. Quite uncomplicated. But over the last year or so Groupon has been accumulating deals, changing its business model in the process. Today it offers 37,000 active deals, the e-retailer says. A consumer didn’t need search functionality to go through a few deals, but with tens of thousands of deals, search became a necessity.

So Groupon has updated its mobile commerce apps, bringing search to the fore. A magnifying glass icon for the functionality now appears at the bottom right of pages in the app. When a consumer conducts a search, Groupon’s search engine goes through not only the daily deals but also the Groupon Goods merchandise listings and the Groupon Getaways travel listings.

“Search is part of a big strategic shift at Groupon,” says David Katz, vice president of mobile at Groupon. “We started out doing a handful of deals each day and now we’ve got thousands of deals running every day. That really transforms the experience for users. You can still go to Groupon to see the handful of cool deals of the day. But we can also address specific needs. If you specifically want deals on sushi you can now come to Groupon and search for sushi, and odds are you will find a couple of great deals. The ability to be that specific is new for us and transforms how you use Groupon.”

Nearly 40% of North American transactions at Groupon were conducted on mobile devices in January 2013, an increase of 44% year over year.

Groupon made some other changes during this latest app update. On its iPhone app, Groupon added related deals to search results and the ability to sort search results by distance. It also linked deals promoted through push notifications to deals highlighted in featured view so app users who receive a push alert and go to the app can see the promoted deal immediately. Featured view is a prominent placement on the app home screen for current deals.

“We try to update the app every six to eight weeks; we are constantly doing little tweaks to make the experience smoother or improve the speed,” Katz says. “We do regular updates both because we are very focused on the user experience and because we know when the app performs better it helps drive revenue for the company.”

Groupon also has enabled its Android app to support 10-inch tablets. Even though the overwhelming majority of tablet traffic at Groupon continues to come from Apple Inc.’s iPad, the e-retailer has registered an increasing amount of traffic from Android tablets.

“We’re starting to see some growth in Android tablets and we’ve seen great and growing performance from Android more broadly, so we’re making an investment in that platform,” Katz says.

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