So last week’s big tech news was the social commerce mega-deal that didn’t tip; Google’s offer to buy the group-buy e-couponing giant, Groupon, for a rumoured $6bn was rejected by the 100 week wordpress-blog-to-billion-dollars-sensation.

But all the deal talk eclipsed a flurry of social commerce innovations from Groupon demonstrating some smart creative thinking in the social commerce space – all aimed at helping deals find people and turning Groupon into The Web’s Deal Hub.

  • First, Groupon has launched “the Deal Feed“, a new Twitter-style/Facebook newsfeed UI allowing people to ‘follow’ businesses from whom they’re interested in receiving deal news.  This is an extension of Groupon’s deal alert personalisation feature launched this fall, allowing Grouponers to customize deal news by ZIP code, gender and age.
  • Second, Groupon has launched “Groupon Stores“, a self-serve service for businesses who can now set up and run their own Groupon deal store, without all that expensive messing around with Groupon’s 50% commission. Groupon’s commission from sales on hosted Groupon store sales is 10%,  plus an optional 20% if you opt for a Groupon email blast to promote your store.
  • Third, Groupon has grown out of its single deal-a-day model for advertising local businesses, now offering multiple deals from both local businesses and e-commerce businesses.  Groupon is now a flash sale hub.
  • Fourth, Groupon has launched an Groupon gift store “Grouponicus“, a curated store of Groupon deals designed for gifting. Is this the start of Groupon verticals – Groupon curated stores for wine, travel, sports etc?
  • Fifth, in addition to acquiring 3 yet more online couponing sites, this time in Asia (uBuyiBuy, Beeconomic and Atlaspost) – Groupon has acquired the things-to-do-before-you-die community site Diddit, along with OfferFoundry, another self-service advertising and deals platform for local businesses (via the purchase of holding company Ludic-Labs). This will presumably help Groupon target deals to consumers and partnerships with businesses.

Customisation for businesses, personalisation for consumers and curated stores – is this the future of social commerce?  Perhaps, and for Groupon, this future will surely also sit alongside a continued voracious acquisition stategy, and the grabbing of some low hanging social commerce fruit;

  1. Adding in consumer reviews to turn Groupon instantly into a tier 1 reviews site
  2. Adding a premium subscription service for deals – get better deals first – to generate regular income from annual subscriptions
  3. Offering a turnkey white label service for the publishing industry – now in perpetual crisis – looking to monetize readership through deals

Whatever, you take away from all this Groupon innovation, innovation is the name of the social commerce game right now. Groupon has set the trend for 2011.