Customers who peruse the myriad deals offered on LivingSocial’s Web site and mobile app leave behind a trail of electronic footprints that the company can now follow and analyze in order to determine what deals they are most likely to purchase.
As a result, the District-based discount purveyor is putting renewed emphasis on the daily e-mail deals that LivingSocial once tried to distance itself from by offering a broad range of products, including consumer goods, travel getaways, live events and more.
The return to daily e-mails — though, as the company maintains, they never left — comes in the form of the Daily Gem, a morning e-mail that has a discount specifically suited for the recipient. The deal is marked down an extra 15 percent if you purchase by 3 p.m.
How LivingSocial determines which deals are matched to certain customers is emblematic of the way data analytics is reshaping the retail sector and how big players market their wares.
The company collects some data that consumers serve up voluntarily through questionnaires that ask whether they prefer “health and beauty” or “sports and fitness” deals, for example. But the company also monitors consumers’ habits while logged onto its Web site and mobile app, such as the deals you click on, the sections of the site on which you spend the most time, and the items you put in your shopping cart and then abandon.
“Ideally, we get the data directly from consumers themselves, but we do have access to a lot of data based on how people have interacted with LivingSocial in the past,” said Jake Maas, executive vice president of business operations. “We take all of that into consideration as we think about surfacing the right offer for our consumers.”
The return to its e-mail roots comes after LivingSocial explored scores of other business models trying to replicate the early success of its daily e-mails. Most recently, its Web site and mobile app have become a place for bargain hunters to find coupons to thousands of national and local merchants.
“At this point, we decided it didn’t have to be an either/or,” Maas said. “We’ve been trying to create a robust commerce platform and marketing platform. The Daily Gem, there’s a world where that’s exactly what customers are looking for.”
Still, some of the fatigue that drove consumers away from daily e-mail deals in the beginning was the notion that the deals didn’t have enough relevance or variety. LivingSocial has tried to tackle that issue by using its online marketplace to add thousands of coupons.
“There are ways to improve your yield and get people to buy more often. The issue has always been can you get enough deals in the pipeline,” said Peter Krasilovsky, an analyst at BIA/Kelsey.
But whether the company can reinvigorate customers’ interest in daily e-mail deals, even when they’re personalized, remains to be seen. The daily deal fervor that catapulted LivingSocial and its main rival Groupon into household names has waned tremendously.
“Daily deals was an incredible social phenomenon. It was part of people’s lifestyle. I think that era is probably over,” Krasilovsky said.