Earlier this month, Re/code reported on a pilot test at Groupon in which the deals company was looking to help small retail stores sell off excess inventory.
“Under the new business, Groupon customers would order a product from a local store through Groupon.com or through a mobile app and then pick it up at the retail location,” I reported at the time.
Now we know how Groupon is marketing those deals and that the company is experimenting with them not only in Chicago, as first reported, but also in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Groupon refers to the deals on its website as — drumroll — “Local Pickup deals” and explains that these deals expire more quickly than regular Groupon offers to places like restaurants or salons. This make sense, since one of the main goals of the retailers Groupon is partnering with on these deals is to quickly unload inventory that they haven’t been able to otherwise sell at full price.
Groupon spokesman Paul Taaffe said in an email that the “deals are a pilot that connects our Goods business to our Local business. They are still under test as we work through what works best for local businesses and customers.”
There are a bunch of examples on Groupon of these deals in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs — everything from a set of bar stools to a three-bottle Zinfandel package to something called a “shirt dress.” But there are also some in San Francisco as well as in San Jose.
And unlike Groupon’s core deals business, this new type of sale doesn’t seem to require a certain number of people to buy the deal for it to go into effect. That’s understandable; the retailers are simply looking to unload whatever inventory they can. Case in point, only one person bought the “shirt dress” while more than 40 purchased the USB cable.
This is still a long way from Groupon becoming the T.J. Maxx for mom-and-pop shops and they may never get there, but it’s a start.