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Smaller merchants drive traffic with customized mobile deals

February 13, 2014

While larger merchants are developing more complex mobile strategies, smaller retailers are still trying to figure out how the mobile medium can serve their needs.

Mini Mountain, a skiing and snowboarding school, is one such small merchant who is experimenting with digital deals and beginning to notice the impact of mobile. The indoor ski center created a customized Groupon deal on Dec. 4, and about half of the redemptions have been on mobile devices.

“I wanted to do a Groupon because we’re a seasonal business and we rely on snow, so I thought I’d do a Groupon ad and that seemed to be the easiest way to do it,” said Tom Waldron, owner of Mini Mountain, Bellevue, WA. “We just needed to get more people to come in here.

“About half [of the deals] were redeemed on mobile devices,” he said. “That’s just how people are. More and more people use their phones for everything.”

Mobile newbie
Mr. Waldron admitted that he had not really considered the mobile aspect when creating a customized Groupon deal via the new Deal Builder tool. He was simply focused on bringing in more traffic.

The deal he offered was for a half-price introductory lesson. According to Mr. Waldron, he has sold 156 deals and 92 have already been redeemed, half of which were on mobile devices.

When consumers showed the deal on a smartphone, Mr. Waldron would type in the number on the deal since he did not have a device to scan it.

While Mini Mountain has yet to build its own mobile strategy, Mr. Waldron said that he is always trying to think of new things.

“We could get people more on a spontaneous basis to come in,” Mr. Waldron said. “If we have a day that’s slow, if we could notify people at their phones, maybe they could come by and take a lesson.

“[Mobile] can get more people to come in here,” he said. “We’re always trying to reach more people in a different way and this is the way of the present and future. We’ve come from sending out flyers to emails so maybe this is the next step.”

The Deal Builder tool

Deal builder
Mini Mountain was one of 10,000 merchants that participated in a pilot for the new Groupon Deal Builder tool.

Groupon launched Deal Builder to the public earlier this week to help small, local businesses build their own Groupon deal. Merchants can access the tool 24/7 from any device at

Merchants simply fill out their basic information and then choose the right deal structure and discount for their business. The deal is then reviewed by Groupon before going live.

The idea is to populate Groupon with more deals in less metropolitan areas. It also means that smaller merchants, who may not be able to handle the traffic associated with being in a Groupon email blast, can target a smaller audience that actively searches for a deal.

“These deals do tend to be of a lower volume than deals that we would promote in the Groupon email, and I think that’s kind of the big ecommerce angle here is that Deal Builder enables us to work with more businesses that may not be right for a wide audience via our emails or mass promotion via push alerts,” said Nicholas Halliwell, head of media relations at Groupon, Chicago.

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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