Goodbye to Daily Deals? Groupon Emphasizes Always-On Deals.

Groupon is rolling out a new deal structure and homepage redesign today that will allow consumers to search and find offers for things they are immediately interested in buying, instead of having to wait for a coupon to arrive in their in-box.

In an interview today, Jeff Holden, the company’s SVP of Product, explained that Groupon has mastered serendipity, but it has not always been good at giving people a place to shop for things they are already looking to buy.

“Groupon was the ultimate place where people would buy things that they didn’t know they were going to buy when they woke in the morning,” he said. “Our model was about talking to merchants, agreeing on a deal, then running the deal. Then it would disappear and be gone.”

Today, in New York and Chicago, consumers will start seeing a new homepage, where offers will be browsable and searchable — and won’t disappear. Instead, there will be a catalog of offers spanning categories such as food, spas, health, fitness, home and auto. So far, Groupon has amassed 27,000 deals in North America as part of the new direction for the company.

While this launch may seem like a relatively small move, it is just one aspect of the business that the company must nail if it wants to continue growing its traditional daily deals business. If Groupon is extremely successful in this endeavor, these deals will start appearing in search results on Google or Bing, much like a Yelp page or other local listings site. That does not happen today because of the temporary nature of Groupon’s current deals.

The evolution started about 18 months ago with the creation of Groupon Now, which got merchants to offer deals that could be used immediately. However, with the move being announced today, the Groupon Now category will go away. At first, consumers may not notice a drastic difference because they will continue getting emails, but when they visit the site, there will be a new layout. In the first image below, you’ll notice the new search bar and location field.

New Groupon homepage

When searching for “car,” more than a dozen offers are returned for auto detailing, car washes and repairs.

In the old format, which still exists for most cities in the U.S., there was no search bar, and when a consumer clicked on “all deals,” they would only surface a few options — not the entire database. Holden said merchants have not been nervous about adopting this format, even though it seems like surfacing the same deals every day would eventually hurt a merchant’s brand. “They’d much rather have a unit sold through Groupon than a seat go empty,” he said. “It makes perfect economic sense. The vast majority have participated immediately, and we aren’t hearing concerns from merchants over that.” He said merchants will also have the option of capping how many times a consumer can redeem a particular offer.

So far, Holden says, the new format is performing well. “We are seeing a significant lift from people who experience the ‘pull’ experience,” he said. “It will take time for people to discover it and for it to ramp up, but the immediate embracing of this shows that people were hungry for capability.”

For comparison, here’s a look at the Seattle homepage, which still has the old format:

Old Groupon Homepage

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