Groupon announced the beta release of Groupon Scheduler, its new online appointment calendar tool, for free to all appointment-based small businesses in the U.S. and Canada (except for Quebec).
Groupon Scheduler was initially launched to two cities in December, and has been made available in a few others since then, but now, obviously, many more businesses will have access to it.
"Scheduler is the latest addition to Groupon’s suite of merchant marketing tools, which help business owners get more customers and run their businesses more successfully," says GM David Katz. "Scheduler gives business owners an easy, free way to take online bookings from their customers 24/7. Once a Groupon has been purchased, a customer can schedule an appointment in just seconds through their account on Groupon.com. Merchants can also add a 'Book Now' button to their website and use Scheduler to manage online booking for all of their services—not just those offered through Groupon."
"Managing appointments and staffing schedules is critical for small businesses, but it takes time and energy," adds Katz. "Scheduler is designed to be clean, simple and easy to use. It makes the appointment process easier, helps reduce no-shows and cancellations and lets business owners focus on what matters most—serving their customers and growing their business."
It provides a client list and business dashboard, showing total appointments in real time, as well as new customers and bookable time filled, and a way to track Groupon redemptions. The product is based on Groupon's acquisition of OpenCal.
The new release comes just on the heels of a big manifesto from Groupon on how it is improving its services, in response to an investigation (which has now been closed) from the UK's OFT (which is essentially their version of the FTC). Providing free scheduling/appointment booking was among the list of improvements. We have to wonder if the timing of this wider release is directly related to that, as it is still in beta.