Update: Groupon has reportedly rejected Google's offer.
Groupon is been getting a lot of press since it launched, because it has become so popular in such a short amount of time. That press has been amped even more this week, as rumors of a possible acquisition by Google swirl throughout the tech web.
While Google was likely privy to this information as it made its offer, now other businesses have some interesting news from Groupon to sink their teeth into. The company announced new Groupon Stores and a Deals feed, which should be key to the future success of Groupon as competitors come out of the woodwork (including Facebook with its recently announced Deals).
Groupon Stores let businesses create and launch their own deals anytime they want. "Think of it as the online equivalent of a merchant's physical storefront," explains CEO Andrew Mason.
Businesses can set up a free permanent presence on Groupon, create offers, submit deals to be promoted to Groupon subscribers through email and the new Deal Feed, and get customers to follow their store, from which businesses can send updates to followers (not unlike a Facebook Page). The email part is an added bonus over a Facebook Page.
Groupon subscribers can check the Deal Feed throughout the day to see new personalized deals, the featured daily deal, and those recommended by Groupon itself based on what it knows about you (more about Groupon personalization here).
"We originally designed Groupon to account for the constraints of being a small company. Since we didn’t have any merchant relationships, we limited ourselves to one deal per day," Mason says. "Today things are different – our biggest problem is that demand is so high, merchants often wait months to be featured. And while we once only had a few thousand customers per city, now we have hundreds of thousands (Chicago just added its millionth subscriber!) – making it increasingly difficult to find one deal that satisfies everyone."
"Personalization, Stores, and the Deal Feed are our attempt to re-imagine things," he adds. "How would we have built Groupon if we started with hundreds of thousands of relationships with the best merchants in the world, millions of customers, and a world-wide operation with thousands of people helping merchants create deals? With these new features, we can feature more merchants and deliver a more relevant experience for customers, while maintaining the curated, serendipitous and simple experience that’s at the core of Groupon."
Groupon's new way of "re-imagining things" could be just what the doctor ordered for Google, should the rumored acquisition actually go through. The addition of Groupon to the Google roster would make one more key weapon in the company's battle with Facebook, particularly now that Facebook has Deals. Groupon is the established leader in this space, and it's really only beginning. The addition of the stores/deal feed would be an alternative to a Facebook Page for many businesses, and imagine that being integrated directly with Google's local search (which is getting a great deal more emphasis in search results these days).
Google would likely also be able to help Groupon expand to more locations fairly quickly.
Groupon's board is expected to meet today to decide how they're going to proceed with Google, according to the Wall Street Journal. Many analysts expect the acquisition to be Google's most expensive to date.
Groupon's new features are only being tested in Chicago, Dallas, and Seattle so far, but the company says it will add cities and functionality soon. If Google buys it, I'd expect it just about everywhere.