You almost have to feel a bit sorry for the folks over at Groupon. We certainly wouldn’t blame them for feeling like there’s a bulls-eye on their collective backs.
After all, since November of last year (a mere 6 months ago), a number of tech heavy hitters like Yahoo, eBay, and Bing have all pledged to get into the daily deal business and to take a slice of the pie from Groupon. And that’s not even counting Google’s own aggressive daily deal aspirations, which have accelerated quickly since Groupon turned down a hefty purchase offer from Google during that time as well.
Well, now you can add another big name to that list of companies: Facebook.
Continuing its gradual expansion into all things e-commerce, Facebook has announced that it will be expanding its current Deals program to start offering consumers exclusive online deals. Shoppers will be able to buy daily-deal vouchers on Facebook itself and share them with their Facebook friends under the new program.
Facebook will use its own in-house sales team to solicit special offers from merchants and retailers. But the social networking behemoth has brought on some partners and will be aggregating special offers from nine other sites as well: Gilt City, Home Run, KGB Deals, OpenTable, Plum District, Pop Sugar City, Tippr, Reach Local and Zozi.
By integrating its own special deals with that of the 9 partner groups, Facebook should be able to ensure a pretty regular selection of daily deals that can compete with the likes of Groupon and Living Social. If you’re wondering why the competition in the daily deal arena has amped up as much as it has in recent months, consider a recent report from media researchers BIA/Kelsey that predicts the industry could be generate as much as $6.1 billion in U.S. sales alone by 2015.
Facebook will initially roll out the new service in only 5 cities – Dallas, Austin, Atlanta, San Francisco and San Diego.
“Local businesses (there) will be able to sign up to use this feature soon, and people will be able to find Deals in the coming weeks,” said a Facebook spokesperson.
The current version of Facebook Deals already lets businesses offer incentives and discounts to consumers, but only those who check-in through the Facebook Places service.
So there you have it. Yet another entrant into the daily deal rat race. Leave us your thoughts and comments below!