Groupon is taking its local deals service mobile and real-time with a new service called “Groupon Now” that will launch in early April, according to a big, new Bloomberg Businessweek profile of the company.The idea is to help people find deals that are nearby and valid RIGHT NOW, via two buttons on a mobile app: “I’m Hungry” and “I’m Bored.”
For merchants, it’s a chance to fill empty tables or bring in customers during historically slow times. For users, obviously, it’s a chance to get more deals, with the added convenience of location and the added urgency of an expiration hour, not just date.
The challenge will be getting local businesses — many of which are still low-tech — to do more precise deals with Groupon. But if they can get it done, it could be a huge new business for the company.
Sure, other mobile companies like Foursquare and Loopt are already in the local/mobile deals arena. But only Groupon has a massive salesforce that’s already in touch with thousands of local merchants around the world.
And beyond the Groupon Now app, there are many potential ways these deals could be distributed, including as real-time ads within other mobile apps.