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Groupon pits itself against location-based services with app update

The new search feature is being rolled out to Groupon’s mobile apps to help consumers sort through the company’s growing inventory of deals. Additionally, Groupon has added support for Android tablets for the first time.

“It’s part of a broader change with what Groupon is – we started out as a deal of the day, and increasingly over the past year built up an inventory of deals to run hundreds and thousands of deals a day,” said David Katz, vice president of mobile at Groupon, Chicago.

“It has moved from consumers checking out deals to browsing and searching through lots of deals,” he said.

“Consumers come to Groupon more often with something specific in mind.”

Mobile update
According to Groupon, search is the most requested update from its app users.

Groupon has added a universal search function to its iPhone and Android apps that lets consumers search for Marketplace deals. Users can now find nearby discounts that are both time-sensitive and rolling.

Consumers can now search from any channel within the app.

Compared to similar offerings that foursquare and Yelp offer, Groupon says that its advantage in the space is being able to offer a discount to drive consumers to an actual location and therefore close the loop for merchants.

The new search feature is also aimed at helping merchants drive more business on a consistent basis.

Originally, Groupon’s strength was being able to bring a quick stream of consumers to a merchant to redeem an offer.

However, as the daily deal craze has calmed down a bit, the focus now is more on retention.

As mobile sales continue to grow, search is critical in Groupon’s future.

Groupon claims that mobile makes up 40 percent of its transactions in North America, which is an increase from roughly 30 percent that was announced in Sept. last year at Mobile Marketer’s Mobile Marketing Summit: Holiday Focus 2012 (see story).

App update
Groupon has also tweaked its app to support Android tablets with up to a 10-inch screen.

As Android tablets such as Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Google’s Nexus 7 continue to see an uptick in ownership, it is important for marketers to develop comprehensive apps that render across all devices.

However, Apple’s iPad still takes up the majority of lion share when it comes to Groupon’s tablet users.

This week, Groupon is making its iPad app available in Malaysia, South Africa, Belgium, Japan and Switzerland. Currently, Groupon’s iPad app is available in 18 countries.

Per Mr. Katz, the goal is to have the iPad app available in all 42 countries that the company’s iPhone app serves by the end of the year.

“We know that mobile users spend more in total than users who only buy on the Web,” Mr. Katz said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York