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LivingSocial tries to stay relevant with app update

LivingSocial has updated both its iPhone and iPad apps to provide a faster and more streamlined shopping experience. However, the company still needs to compete to win a very crowded space.

“In general we are seeing as the entire industry has seen is more of a shift to mobile,” said Ian Costello, vice president of product development at LivingSocial, Washington DC. “With this increased usage came a need to evolve our business.

“We’re more of an ideal marketplace than we’ve been,” he said. “Now we have tens of thousands of deals across our platform. And a wonderful way to showcase that and give users the ability to browse and more accurately find the deals they were looking for. It was also the need to drive to a faster experience on mobile.”

App update
The redesigned iOS apps are meant to make browsing and purchasing easier and quicker.

The offer pages have been enhanced with a faster page load as well as more information such as maps and merchant contact information. The app also features a new carousel of images on the homepage that lets users swipe through deals in a more dynamic and fun way.

LivingSocial also updated search functionality to make it easier for consumers to browse through different categories. Additionally consumers can view deals that are ending soon so that they do not miss out on offers.

The app also enables geolocation to help consumers find nearby deals.

Additionally, consumers can now add a voucher to Passbook for easy access.

The LivingSocial app now provides pre-purchase money saving offers that consumers can use when shopping online or in-store as well. Consumers can also receive a free deal if three friends purchase the same deal through a referral link that can be shared on social media.

The app also makes gifting vouchers easier so that consumers can email an offer to a friend.

To celebrate the updated app, LivingSocial offered consumers 20 percent off their purchase with the promo code MOBILE20 through March 16. The code was only valid with mobile app purchases.

Mobile competitor
More than half of LivingSocial’s traffic stems from mobile, and nearly a third of all transactions come from the device, accounting for tens of millions of consumer purchases.

“We’re more focused on our users at this point, so we’re trying to give our users the best experience,” Mr. Costello said. “Our business is evolving, we’re acting a lot more like a retailer.

“We’re starting to recognize that holidays are big, cyber Monday is big,” he said. “We’re really focused on bringing the best of our business to the mobile app experience rather than looking externally at this point.”

However, Groupon still seems to maintain the leading spot in the deal app space. Groupon is constantly updating its mobile experience, most recently making moves for flash sales with the acquisition of ideeli (see story).

“LivingSocial will need to make sure they have a strategy for promotion and advertising across all channels in order to drive downloads of the app,” said Esha Shah, strategy and innovation manager at Fetch North America, San Francisco.  “Groupon currently has the upper hand because they do a great job and put a huge amount of investment in marketing in its youth, and thus they have established very strong brand recognition.

“The fact that the service is now more user friendly for mobile users  will definitely help them cut the gap, however they will need to invest in further marketing and advertising so people are aware of the new features, especially me+3,” she said. “Product updates combined with a concise marketing strategy will drive more revenue and brand recognition.”

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