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Groupon Gets Its Mobile On

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 8:33am
Monica Alleven

BARCELONA—Groupon’s vice president of Mobile is confident the company is going after the mobile business in the right way – and the numbers tell him so.

Groupon this week for the first time released numbers around its mobile performance in North America. In December 2011, 25 percent of Groupons were purchased on a mobile device, and there’s no reason to think that’s going to go down. Mobile app users in North America last December grew to more than 9 million, which was three times more than the previous December.

“Our overall goal is we’re changing the way consumers shop locally through our mobile products,” said Mihir Shan, vice president of Mobile for Groupon. Mihir joined the company as part of Groupon’s acquisition of Mob.ly in spring of 2010.

Interestingly, travel deals, like weekend getaways, are doing better than expected – people are browsing for deals in their spare time and buying up things like a weekend in Napa Valley, not the kind of thing you might expect people to buy using a phone.

This week, Groupon announced the expansion of its relationship with Nokia to preload Groupon apps onto its phones. “I think they’re going to be a great distribution partner for us,” he said.

It’s not exclusive; Groupon is talking to all the carriers and OEMs for potential partnerships. It also just this week announced a deal with Deutsche Telekom.

Shan’s team is based in Palo Alto, Calif., and while it’s been growing organically and through acquisitions, he declined to say how many employees are based there, citing the Chicago company’s policy.

Groupon’s daily deals are about customer acquisition, but it’s also offering other products. In 25 markets, it offers what it calls a yield management product, whereby a baker, for example, could offer a deal from 5 to 7 a.m. to better manage her inventory at a time when it’s not that busy. Groupon Renewals are about rewarding a merchant’s most loyal customers.

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