Groupon and eBay Launch So-Called Anti-Amazon Promotions
In what many saw as strike-backs against Amazon’s controversial promotion that rewarded consumers for using its mobile app to compare prices in-store and then buy online, both Groupon and eBay have recently launched offers that drove shoppers to stores.
On Dec. 6, Amazon set off a firestorm after announcing a one-day promotion tied to its mobile Price Check app. Consumers who used the app on Dec. 10 to scan select products in store and then purchased those products from Amazon received a discount of up to $5.
Many retailers complained that Amazon was only using their stores as a showroom, with some calling for a boycott. Senator Olympia Snowe, a Maine Republican, called the promotion "an attack on Main Street businesses that employ workers in our communities." In an op-ed piece in the New York Times, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Russo concluded that, "Lawful or not, it’s an example of Amazon’s bare-knuckles approach."
By comparison, both Groupon’s and eBay’s promotions declared their support for local businesses and local communities.
The Buy Local from Groupon promotion gave customers $10.00 in Groupon bucks if they purchased any of the site’s daily deals in a physical store. The deal was introduced Monday and sold out by Tuesday after the 150,000 sign-up limit had been reached.
"We think it’s unfortunate that there’s this meme that people believe they have to make a difficult choice between supporting local businesses and great price," Rich Williams, Groupon’s senior vice president of global marketing, told the Wall Street Journal. "Groupon is further proof that you don’t have to make those decisions."
The deal came as Groupon is building up its "merchant productivity" tools for local retailers. For instance, Groupon Scheduler, introduced Dec. 6, enables consumers to instantly book appointments online with a local merchant, avoiding having to call or email. Those include all appointments; not just those associated with Groupon.
In a similar manner, eBay launched its own brick-and-mortar promotion on December 16. Participating retailers — Toys ‘R’ Us, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Aeropostale — gave customers $10 in in-store credit if they bought $100 worth of merchandise from the respective retailer’s websites. EBay’s GSI Commerce unit helps run the e-commerce operations of these stores.
EBay is "trying to be the anti-Amazon in a sense," Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co., told Bloomberg News. The company is "positioning itself as a partner with traditional retailers, whereas Amazon is trying to accelerate that shift away from stores."
- Groupon Launches Anti-Amazon Promotion of Sorts – The Wall Street Journal
- Groupon: Defender of Main Street?
- Groupon Announces Groupon Scheduler, Easy To Use Appointment Management – Groupon
- Al’s Emporium: Info-Age Shoplifting – Wall Street Journal
- eBay Rewards Online Shoppers With $10 to Spend In-Store This Holiday – eBay
- Amazon Price-Check App Is Attack on Small Stores, Snowe Says – Bloomberg News/San Francisco Chronicle
- ABA Responds to Amazon App Promo – bookweb.org
- Amazons Jungle Logic – Amazon
- For Amazon, Lashes and Backlashes – New York Times
Discussion questions: What do you think of Groupon’s and eBay’s local-retailer promotions? Which one will likely benefit more from such retail-traffic driving campaigns? Is there a backlash against Amazon emerging?