Is Groupon the scourge or savior of small business? The online deals giant certainly is goodwill hunting this season by offering a $10 credit to the first 150,000 people who buy a local Groupon by Dec. 24.
A jab at Amazon.com? (The online retailer offered shoppers a $5 discount for standing inside a bricks-and-mortar store using its Price Check app to find lower prices online.)
Nada to do with Amazon, Groupon CEO Andrew Mason told the Associated Press. It's just the Chicago-based company's way of helping people to think local.
"I think people have over the years come to believe that they have to make this difficult choice between supporting local businesses...or getting a great price," he said. "Groupon is here to remind people that they can do both."
Groupon defines local as "any business, in or around your city, that has a physical presence–a place where you can walk in and shop."
EBay also is supporting bricks-and-mortar business (though not small or local) while promoting PayPal (which it owns) this holiday season. Through today, the online retailer is offering $10 coupons to shoppers who spend $100 through PayPal at websites for Dick's Sporting Goods, Aeropostale, Toys "R" Us, or Babies "R" Us, or the latter two's eBay stores. The emailed $10 coupon can only be redeemed at a bricks-and-mortar location of the same retailer.
EBay is “trying to be the anti-Amazon in a sense,” Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. in San Francisco, told Bloomberg. The company is “positioning itself as a partner with traditional retailers, where as Amazon is trying to accelerate that shift away from stores.”
In September, Groupon introduced Groupon Rewards, which allows buyers to unlock special deals from local businesses via repeat visits.
Has life changed for Mason since the oft-criticized company went public? The job feels "very much the same," he told the AP. Though now there's a "this kind of funny line," that gets drawn about the company on finance websites. That, and "I've gotten really into Scientology," he joked.