Groupon, the easiest way to get a massage at 50% off, has purchased Campfire Labs, according to a TechCrunch report from yesterday. The surprise is that Campfire labs still hadn’t launched. Groupon picked them up based on their early demos, apparently, and their service seemed to be some sort of social shopping enhancement service, which could help Groupon enhance communication between merchants, customers and customers’ friends.
This comes soon after Groupon’s acquisition of another social company, OpenCal. Groupon used the technology from that team to create their Groupon Scheduler product, one which solves one of the biggest problems with daily deals — scheduling. I know a bunch of daily deals obsessed people, and after you’ve stocked 10 or so coupons, it can feel like a bit of a drag to go through each one and find out their specific policies for booking events. The scheduler allows a customer to immediately schedule their appointment after they’ve bought the coupon. Pretty cool stuff.
This kind of technology will also help to separate Groupon from the various clones that eat at its potential business. If Groupon develops a fast, smart way to schedule appointments with small businesses, that’s opening the company up to a bigger opportunity — small business solutions. The thing that typically has prevented small businesses from getting into e-commerce was the distant promise of returns and the requirement of mass marketing to make it work. A mom and pop dermatologist in a small city doesn’t know or have the money to understand how to drive people to their website with SEO and Facebook ads. But if they sign up for Groupon, then get 15 clients at a decent price and the clients schedule themselves, this is the kind of service the company may pay for again.
Could Groupon possibly spin off a small business solutions division?