Groupon rose to prominence online during the past few years by partnering with brands to offer huge daily deals. They have helped small businesses regain traction in their local markets, even in the face of low consumer spending, and have given national chains some of their most successful promotions ever. But Groupon has had a rough go of it lately, as they’ve seen their online coupon sales steadily plummet. In response to that trend, and with an eye towards creating new markets, Groupon has announced a new iPad app designed to help merchants track customer purchases online.
The new iPad app is called Breadcrumb. It is launching only in the United States as of now, and will be a subscription service carrying a monthly price tag of $99. Breadcrumb had already been released as part of a Beta test to a small group of businesses in New York. But according to Mihir Shah, who is Groupon’s VP of mobile and merchant products, it will now expand nationally.
Breadcrumb is the main technology product of a startup based out of New York that Groupon purchased back in May. It’s quite similar to the service provided by Square, in that it allows business owners to accept credit cards. But in addition it will give merchants a number of other options, including the ability to accept reservations through the same portal. Based on further comments put forward by Mr. Shah, the goal is for Groupon to improve its relationship with merchants, and to focus much more on their needs than on consumers looking for daily deals.
It remains to be seen if Groupon will ever become the one-stop shop supporting merchants through all of their transactions that the company clearly wants to become, but Breadcrumb is an excellent step down that road in any case. It even has specific solutions designed for bars and restaurants, allowing managers to make adjustments to their online menus, to split customer checks and even to organize the time-clock inputs from their entire staff. Breadcrumb will also work seamlessly with Groupon Payments, which is the company’s credit card reader. As with Square and the other technology companies that manage that work, Groupon Payments can record transactions on any credit card, with or without a swipe of the card itself.
Given that much of this technology is currently in the marketplace thanks to several other companies that beat Groupon to the punch, how will the daily deals company perform? Their success or failure may hinge greatly upon the relationships they have built with local, regional and national brands. After all, if Groupon has helped a company make a significant amount of money with a successful sale, that company is more likely to use Groupon for its mobile credit card processing services. But there are many companies that have used Groupon just to see their bottom line hurt, by giving out too many coupons for too few future customers. Groupon’s only chance may be to show significant success in one region, and then rely on that buzz to grab a majority of the small business opportunities in that area. Only time will tell what the fate of this program, and Groupon will be.