Should Restaurants Be Using Group Buying Sites?

Opinions and perspectives can be mixed, but generally, many restaurants have jumped on the daily deal site bandwagon to provide their current and potential new clientele with meal deals. Deal sites such as Groupon, Living Social, Kijiji Daily Deals and locally based businesses like Swarm Jam and Smart Betty, allow businesses to provide daily offers to the public. These bargains are available to subscribers based on their location and they change on a daily basis. These deals can be anything from 50% off an entire meal purchase to discounted two-can-dine options. These sites operate through the power of group buying. Each daily deal will become active as long as the number of purchases reaches a certain pre-determined quota. Various methods of promotion such as email, website, social media platforms (Facebook & Twitter) and even mobile apps, provide subscribers with daily deal notifications. Each day these sites offer a new featured deal that is purchased online directly through their websites or mobile apps. Once you have purchased the deal, your voucher/coupon can either be printed or presented via your mobile device at the time of use.

group buyingThese group buying sites are mutually beneficial to all parties involved in the sense that both the business and customer reap the advantages from the daily deal. It’s an especially unique opportunity for new, small or unadvertised businesses because it allows them to promote their restaurants and persuade new clientele to try their offerings by providing them with a deal that’s hard to turn down. Not all businesses are marketing or social media savvy, so these sites are able to do all of the promoting and advertising, as well as create the media ‘buzz’ needed to sell your deals. Additionally, when you decide to work with daily deal sites, you gain access to their mailing list and members in your particular local market that you could not otherwise obtain on your own. Any restaurant knows that they are only as strong as their customer base. Obtaining new patrons, as well as showing appreciation to their existing ones, is extremely vital to their existence.

Considering that working with these sites is commission based, you want to be certain that you make a positive return on your investment. In order to do so, there are some things to be aware of before you decide to pursue. You must be able to:
1. Turn as many new customers into return patrons.
2. Create a positive experience for customers so it can elicit the spread of positive reviews to others (word of mouth).
3. Handle the increased volume of customers while continually providing the same high level of superior service.
4. Continue to provide your regular and loyal customers with the same level of service they are used to.

Keeping in mind the combination of today’s consumer who frequents restaurants and the low recession-induced spending power, these deals meet the needs of the general public. Individuals and families on a budget or those simply looking to save on their frequent dining habits are given an opportunity to save significantly. Deal sites also make committing to trying a new establishment a lot less risky and therefore reduces the amount of post-purchase dissonance. There is no doubt that a demand for these deal site offerings exists so the response and traffic that a restaurant will receive through participating is promising.

Whether you are a new or established business in need of advertising and a new audience, deal sites might be the answer for you as long as you take into consideration the risks involved and be prepared to overcome them.

How Social Media Can Help You Maximize Your Business This Holiday Season

Social media platforms will be a major source of information and persuasion for this year’s holiday shoppers, and many consumers will turn to their social networks to help them navigate through the online crowds. Online shopping is the key retail trend to follow, as more are turning to their devices in order to help them make informed purchase decisions. With the stress, time-constraints, and strict budgets associated with the holidays, it’s no surprise that social media will play a huge role in businesses hoping to maximize their profits during the last quarter of the 2011 fiscal year.

blab blue christmas gift

Whether they’re comparing prices, reading reviews, or actively making purchases, the average holiday shopper plans to do 46% of their holiday shopping online, according to the latest research conducted by the National Retail Institute.

The same survey also found that 29.2% of consumers (that’s nearly 3 in 10) will check out a company’s Facebook page for more information about products, consumer reviews, or holiday promotions, while 65.1% plan on reading customer reviews on a company’s website. A similar survey conducted by the marketing research firm, SymphonyIRI, breaks down exactly how consumers plan on using the Internet during the 2011 holiday season. 61% of consumers will use more coupons from group couponing websites (as opposed to only 33% in 2010), 48% will take advantage of promotions learned online, and 43% plan on comparing products online via blogs, forums, and other social platforms.

According to Deloitte’s 2011 Holiday Survey, 44% of consumers will use social media as part of their holiday shopping process. Below is a breakdown of how consumers plan on using social media:

2011 social media holiday spending research

As a business, how can you use social media to help you maximize your success during the 2011 holiday season?

Update Is The New “Up Sell”
It is extremely important to keep consumers up to date on all the latest promotions, discounts, one-time deals, and exciting new product linesas holiday shoppers are in hot pursuit of deals, reviews and coupons. By continuously pushing new updates across your social platforms you can easily increase your business’ presence by staying relevant with key search words. In addition, a frenzy of updates will filter through the viral tunnel which will ultimately send more people in your business’ direction.

Integrate your social posts with your other online advertising communications (such as emails, banners etc). This allows for instant feedback and analytics that can help optimize conversation and response rates by responding to your customer’s needs and preferences in real time.

Don’t Just Entice Customers With Your Promotions, Engage Them
Spread the news about your unique promotions (Clickz suggests activities such as: gift registries, holiday countdowns, and price altering) through your social networks. By adding opt-in and registration opportunities, like Facebook tabs, you can easily drive value and add engagement while at the same time growing your databases for more effective conversations even after the holidays.

Respond With Rewards
Incorporate incentives such as exclusive offers and loyalty events for social community members. Make a reward available for those consumers who engage with your holiday campaigns and who help to spread the word.

Integrate The Ability To Make Purchases
46.7% of holiday shoppers will buy online this year, so why not use those online purchases to leverage your social media platforms? Use your Facebook page to offer purchasing opportunities (this is known as F-commerce). Clickz also suggests using your social platforms to create social events around big commerce events, like “Chat With The Designer”.

So, get to where your consumers are this holiday season. Respond to the latest trends and shifts in holiday shopping behaviors, and leverage your social media presence in order to maximize your profits in the fourth quarter and beyond. Remember, you need to keep your consumers up-to-date with fresh, exciting content, and compelling, unique promotions, as this year’s holiday shoppers are all about price discounts, product reviews, and comparative shopping. There are also a number of many creative ways to extend your success and capitalize on conversions by incorporating your existing social platforms. If you’re overwhelmed by these tasks, or are in unsure of how your business fits in with this new holiday shopping model, turn to the experts here at Blab! For suggestions, strategies and executions.

Happy eHolidays!


Is Groupon The Right Fit For Your Business?

Coupons are not a new concept. Chances are your family has been saving money for years by cutting out coupons from flyers and as the times changed, printing them from the internet. The truth is, everyone loves to save money and Groupon’s business is built around the public’s desire for a good deal. Group buying has recently become a growing phenomenon. As consumers begin to realize the benefits, businesses are jumping on the bandwagon to offer whatever deals they can.

Each day, Groupon offers a new deal on food, retail merchandise, or experiences in your city. As a user you can purchase these deals online or through their mobile app. Each deal requires a certain number of users to purchase before it “tips” and becomes active. This ensures that businesses participating get the desired minimum amount of users to purchase. Businesses can also set limits in terms of how many coupons are available for purchase, when they expire, how they can be used etc.

The important thing to remember is that while Groupon is a great business with a great concept, it may not be the best fit for you. There are many factors that come into play when organizing a deal through Groupon and as a business, it’s vital that you’re prepared in advanced.

Can You Afford To Offer The Discount?
The first step in determining if Groupon will work for your business is to start crunching some numbers and learning more about how the process works. Upon investigation, businesses will learn that Groupon typically takes 50% of sales. If your business sells 1000 Groupons for $15 each that’s $15,000 in total so Groupon gets $7,500 and you get the other $7,500. If those 1000 people all come into your business and spend exactly $15, you’re left with no other profit whereas those who come in and spend more than the allotted $15, put that money directly into your pocket. It’s very important to figure out how much your business can sacrifice financially in order to really leverage a group buying deal.

How Will You Handle The Traffic?
Imagine that you sold 1000 Groupons that, according to the terms of use you provided, expire in three months. You have to assume that in the next 90 days, these 1000 people will be waling through your doors and significantly increasing your traffic. This is an important factor for smaller businesses who have a very desirable product or service. Often times businesses forget that once the deal is over, they’re now responsible for how it plays out. If they can’t handle the traffic because they have very few employees, a small storefront, or few resources, it could jeopardize the customers experience. The smartest way to eliminate this issue and avoid it from the start is to set a limit on how many Groupons can be sold for your business. This is a great example of how planning ahead can save you a lot of grief!

Are You Prepared To Track Redemptions?
Once your business has made its appearance on Groupon and customers have purchased the deal, it’s your turn to take over the reins. Each Groupon is only redeemable once, so when the barcode is scanned, the customer forfeits the coupon to the business. The process of tracking redemptions can prove very useful. As a business owner it ensures that you’re aware of how many Groupons have been redeemed so you can plan ahead. Tracking Groupon redemptions helps you stay on top of things and ensure the process runs smoothly. What many businesses fail to realize is that tracking these coupons can provide them with loads of interesting information in terms of buying habits. How much did these Groupon customers spend? When did they redeem the coupons? Did they buy any additional as gifts?

Have You Educated Your Staff and Created a Game Plan?
You’re potentially bringing in new customers with Groupon and you want their first impression to be amazing so they’re enticed to return without a coupon in the future. Ensuring that your staff is educated and prepared to handle Groupons can make all the difference. Do you know how the staff will ring up the deal on the cash register? Do your employees know how to properly track the incoming Groupons? There are many bases that beed to be covered to provide the best user experience possible but preparing things in advance and staying organized can help the process run smoothly.

Have You Done Your Research?
Researching Groupon’s services and reading business case studies can really help steer you in the right direction. It’s important to remember that there are many responsibilities and risks involved with group buying deals, as there are with almost any aspect of marketing. At the end of the day, it all comes down to making an informed decision so you can ensure that your business will be prepared to take advantage of everything Groupon has to offer.