Groupon, the Chicago-based daily deals company, is stretching its business model into a services and business tools: The company launched Scheduler, an online scheduling tool for small businesses, on Monday that integrates with its discounted gift certificates.
Using the new service, Groupon users can purchase coupons for a particular service -- let's say a haircut -- and then book an appointment for the service using the Scheduler.
On the other end, merchants can use Scheduler to manage their entire calendar, not just appointments that have been arranged through Groupon. The service will also send booking confirmations and email reminders to customers. Groupon doesn't charge businesses for using Scheduler.
Effectively managing appointments and staffing schedules is critical for small businesses, but it takes a tremendous amount of time and energy, said David Katz, General Manager of Groupon Scheduler in a written statement. Scheduler streamlines these time-consuming tasks and lets business owners dedicate more time to what matters most-developing a thriving business.
Restaurants and hotels are currently ineligible for the service. Groupon says that the two industries have scheduling systems in place, according to BusinessWeek, so it's not focused on those industries at the moment.
The launch of Scheduler is just the latest step in Groupon's long-term strategy to begin offering more services and tools that encourage businesses to offer discounted gift certificates through the company. Scheduler is based off of technology from a Canadian company, OpenCal, that was bought by Groupon last fall.