COLUMBIA — By 8:12 a.m. Monday, Columbia's first daily Groupon deal was active.
More than 50 Columbia businesses now participate in Groupon, a website that offers city-specific daily deals from 50 to 90 percent off. The site launched in November 2008 in Chicago and has spread to more than 60,000 businesses in about 40 countries, Groupon spokeswoman Kelsey O'Neill said.
B&B Bagel was the first Columbia business to participate. Other businesses include restauraunts, salons and a yoga studio, O'Neill said. Right now, Groupon offers one daily deal in Columbia, but plans to expand by adding more than one.
Monday morning's Columbia deal — $4 for an $8 bagel meal deal — "tipped" or was active after 15 consumers purchased the coupon. The tipping point is to ensure that a minimum number have been purchased and that enough consumers are driven to the business location, O'Neill said.
“The tipping point also inspires people to share the deal with friends, family and co-workers,” she added.
If not enough consumers purchase the coupon, then the deal doesn't go into effect, and the buyers are not charged. Business can put a limit on how many coupons are available, but it's not a Groupon requirement, O'Neill said.
To find out about the deals, customers can sign up for daily e-mail notifications, or download applications for Blackberry, Android, iPhone or iPad. The coupons are also featured on Groupon's website.
B&B Bagel owner Brad Newkirk* decided to participate because of the attention Groupon has received.
“They have been featured in various news articles," he said. "They are a big company and a growing company, and I definitely wanted that buzz."
In the weeks leading up to the launch of Groupon in Columbia, the company promoted its arrival on Facebook and Twitter, O'Neill said.
“We have close to 8,000 subscribers in Columbia and are adding up to 500 new subscribers every day,” O’Neill said.
Newkirk said he was not expecting to make money off of the coupon itself but on the new business it would bring him.
“I feel my product is good enough that if I can get them to walk through the front door they will keep coming back,” Newkirk said. “I am paying to get customers.”
Newkirk said part of the reason he was drawn to the company was because Groupon gives participating business owners information about who is buying the coupons. Information includes Groupon customers' shopping history, ages and locations.
“It’s very quantitative. Very few modes of advertisement do that,” Newkirk said. “It helps you become a better business.”
Businesses who use Groupon work with a sales representative who plans out an individual contract. The general financial agreement between the business and Groupon states that each company will receive 50 percent of the coupon profit, O'Neill said. After the deal ends, the business receives a series of checks from Groupon within 90 days.