Groupon Can Be Too Much of a Good Thing

Online coupons shake up retailers' world

By Matt Bartosik
|  Monday, Aug 2, 2010  |  Updated 12:15 PM CDT
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Made in Chicago

Groupon deals work almost too well for some retailers.

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Sometimes, there truly can be too much of a good thing.

Thanks to online coupons, thousands of new customers have been flooding local shops, providing some small businesses with more activity than they can handle.

When the economy stumbled, more and more consumers hunted down ways to save money. Online websites that offered coupons and other discounts became more popular.

One such website is Groupon.com, launched in November 2008 and headquartered here in Chicago. The platform offers a different coupon for a local business every day. The only condition: a certain number of people must sign up for the offer. If not enough people join, no one gets the deal that day.

Groupon offers significant discounts for a variety of businesses, from restaurants to salons to delivery services to cultural events.

But occasionally, those deals can work too well.

Some retailers have experienced a surge in business that they never experienced—and consequently, weren't prepared for.

"All of a sudden it went over the edge of my expectations, so I'm a little overwhelmed," Phu Bui, owner of Crystal Nail Salon in Chicago, told the AP.

Bron Gacki, owner of Bikram Yoga Milwaukee, expected to sell 1,000 coupons via Groupon. He sold 2,500.

"What if 2,500 people show up tomorrow? What's going to happen?" he panicked, reports the AP.

Groupon employees say they recommend that retailers limit the number of coupons sold, but obviously not everyone listens.

They'll definitely be listening though when those new customers start complaining, both in person and online.

Matt Bartosik is a Chicago native and a social media sovereign.

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