Why Groupon Isn't One-Size-Fits-All

The Internet is a bit of an echo chamber in that it has a tendency to make real-world time feel like it stretches on much further than it actually does. Case in point: Groupon was founded in 2008, but doesn't that feel like about a decade ago? Of course, it wasn't.

In that time, though, we've seen Groupon dominate headlines and harsh critics' conversations -- what we've lost sight of is a sensible appraisal of the company, its impact, and its sway going forward.

That's a large part of what makes Street Fight's -- a website that takes a microscope to the hyperlocal business scene -- interview with Chelsea Piers Senior Vice President Dana Thayer so fascinating.

Thayer's company was one of the first-ever businesses to run a Groupon in 2009, and Chelsea Piers was so impressed that it signed an exclusive two-year contract. But now that the time's up, Thayer explains that her company is eager to branch out. 

Again, I have been very happy with Groupon, so this is not in any way meant to be a negative on Groupon. It’s just a very competitive market out there right now, so I think merchants have a lot more — I wouldn’t say power, but because there’s more competition, you can be a little more selective in who you work with.

As more Groupon clones and legit competitors began to emerge, Thayer started to track price points, deal-site retentions, and loads of other data on a mondo spreadsheet -- so this isn't just a case of Chelsea Piers' having restless leg syndrome.

"We are one of Groupon’s early merchants. Our first daily deal was on May 15th, 2009, and it went out to 16,000 people. We were very much on the ground floor of this." says Thayer. "But the daily deals sites have matured."

Although Thayer is careful to still sound glowing about Groupon in general, she points out that the group-buying titan doesn't offer much for retailers operating in the "kid space." She rattled off DoodleDeals, Plum District, and Time Out New York Kids as possibilities worth exploring.

There's more, too, like how woefully unprepared they were to handle the success of some deals they ran -- and how you can avoid that yourself.

It's an interesting read overall, and offers something so seldom present on the Internet: perspective. Check out Street Fight's interview with Thayer here.

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