Groupon CEO Andrew Mason has been profiled on Bloomberg BusinessWeek where he discusses the company’s next direction. He said that his focus is now on building the “operating system for local commerce.” He envisions this as being a combination of software and technology services that would put the company into every transaction aspect of Main Street businesses.
Mason believes that consumers should be using Groupon as a “Yellow Pages” like service to find new ideas on where to eat and find the lowest prices offered by thousands of businesses. The merchants would use Group for advertising and as a touch point for every sale. The last time that Bloomberg BusinessWeek profiled Groupon, Mason talked about “Groupon Now,” an instant deals service that did not gain as much traction as they were hoping for. Here is an excerpt from the interview about what Groupon is working on now.
At Cowabunga Creamery, a surfing-themed ice cream parlor in the sleepy suburb of San Carlos, Calif., customers have their credit cards swiped through a plastic scanner attached to an iPad. Groupon developed the device with hardware maker Infinite Peripherals and built a cash register app for the iPad. ?This becomes your business computer,? says Bill Cotter, Cowabunga?s owner. With his previous credit-card processor, Cotter says he would have to keep track of receipts and manually add up his daily income to calculate tax at the end of the month. ?This does all that,? says Cotter, who has never run a daily deal on Groupon?s site. There are about 500 merchants in the San Francisco Bay area testing the payment system, according to a partner involved in the trial run who asked not to be named because the details aren?t public.
This essentially means that Groupon will now be competing against companies like Square and OpenTable. Daily deals are great, but there are bigger fish to fry. ?Right now, we?re just this advertising solution,? said Mason. ?If we can come up with an ecosystem that local merchants use to run their business and it?s connected to consumers, then I think that?s a pretty sizable business.?