Groupon today announced that its Rewards program, which it began testing in September 2011, has now launched nationwide to the U.S. Groupon Rewards is a loyalty program that uses credit cards to track spending at retailers who use Groupon. The merchants can then reward customers who spend a certain amount. It's the Groupon version of a coffeehouse punch card or a gas station rewards card.
"We believe this is the easiest Rewards program in the world for both merchants and consumers," said Jay Hoffmann, General Manager for Groupon Rewards. "Merchants can leverage the power of Groupon's active customer base to launch a loyalty program with real impact, using the systems they already have in place. And thanks to the scale of Groupon's network of high quality local businesses, consumers can enjoy increased savings from a wide variety of merchants in their backyard and all over the U.S."
Hoffmann posted an announcement of the product launch on the Groupon blog, where he pointed out some of the details of how Groupon Rewards works. Users who want to participate in Groupon Rewards must use a credit card they have saved with their Groupon account when making purchases for them to count toward rewards. Also, the amount of spending needed to obtain a reward is set by the retailer, not Groupon.
Groupon will be facing fierce competition in the near future, as Google expands its Google Offers into Google Maps and Facebook releases its own "Offers" program. Also, Facebook recently acquired TagTile, a company that was implementing a similar program to Groupon Rewards. It's probable that Facebook will have a Rewards-type program soon, possibly involving smartphone NFC technology instead of credit card tracking.
What do you think? Will programs such as this one help Groupon compete as internet giants encroach into their business territory? Leave a comment below and let us know.