Groupon Scheduler allows customers to set up appointments and employees to maintain work schedules for businesses.

Daily deal sites have become so popular so quickly, it’s hard to imagine life without them. LivingSocial, Amazon Daily Deals, and Groupon offer companies the chance for some widespread publicity while offering a coupon for location-based interaction as well. Groupon just added another product to its line to help the small business owner by releasing the public beta version of Groupon Scheduler.


Groupon Scheduler launched in December for only Sacramento and Miami. Since then, Groupon has expanded the product to include other North American cities. And as of yesterday, the service is in beta testing for any small business, anywhere.

Unlike the coupon company’s bread-and-butter daily deals model, Groupon Scheduler is a scheduling tool for businesses. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, customers for any small business running the Groupon Scheduler beta can book appointments. Groupon has made it easy for businesses to advertise this new feature by allowing companies to put a button on their site that says “Book Now” and takes customers to the Groupon Scheduler booking application.

Not only does this new service book customer appointments but it is also internally applicable. It can also be used to manage staff schedules. The product also has an analytics piece that allows businesses using Scheduler to collect data on appointment history, such as no-shows, or new client appointments, and how much of your working day schedule is usually filled.

In 2011, Groupon bought OpenCal which was the direct predecessor for this Scheduler product. Of course, the bottom line is that hopefully businesses that begin using Scheduler also see the value their companies could gain by using Groupon daily deals as well.

This growing aspect of business is called online-to-offline commerce. That is, by increasing online functionality, many businesses are hoping (and seeing results) for offline business transactions. Another popular product that uses the same idea as Scheduler (but that has been around for a little bit longer) is OpenTable.

OpenTable lets users make restaurant reservations online. It even goes one step further and allows users to book specific tables online. Not only do customers get to book where they want to sit but there is another side of the program that allows the restaurant to manage the software as well.

Groupon is probably the current king of online-to-offline commerce, with location-based deals. This kind of synergy between brick-and-mortar stores and online interactions from customers is becoming essential for mom-and-pop stores to survive.

As we discussed in a blog post a few months ago, Amazon released a price check app to have customers in physical stores check and report back prices to Amazon to make the online retailer’s prices more competitive. In addition to Amazon, PayPal and other online retailers are also competing with your neighborhood shop.

Amazon is even trying to cut in on Groupon’s business model. Amazon Daily Deals email zip code-based coupons to Amazon users for companies that have agreed to participate in the program.

Critics say that Groupon (and models like it) isn’t really the answer to keeping brick-and-mortar stores around. Groupon and the rest take a cut of all daily deals that companies advertise through daily coupons and that, some say, still isn’t helping physical stores because they’re still giving a cut of their business to online retailers. I’m guessing the benefit still outweighs the percentage Groupon and such companies take because the model has become and remained widely popular.

Overall, it’s hard to predict the future of online and offline retail. Everything is moving towards mobile payments and online shopping but sometimes the convenience of getting what you need right away justifies the necessary, higher prices of brick-and-mortar stores. To read more about Groupon’s latest news, check out our blog post about Groupon’s IPO.