Consumers are getting overloaded with group, local, and coupon deal sites, not to mention loyalty programs and credit card rewards. The smart consumer has to pay attention to some or all of these deals in order to avoid spending more than necessary. But while it's true that only suckers pay full retail, there are degrees. To be sure you're getting the best possible low-sucker-quotient deals out there, you need to scan a ton of different sources. Or you can hope that a new service, ChoozOn, can do it for you.
Going into limited testing today, ChoozOn aggregates deal aggregation data from group deal sites like Groupon and its clones, coupon aggregators like RetailMeNot and its competitors, and various loyalty programs from retailers, credit card companies, and so on.
ChoozOn is the inevitable deal site meta-aggregator. CTO Usama Fayyad likes that there are so many competing, overlapping deal sites, and services. "The more there are, the better for us," Fayyad says.
The service has a complex consumer offering. ChoozOn lets you set up monitors for brands or categories you like. If a deal surfaces on a camera you're interested in, you'll get an alert. You can also have the service recommend deals for you based on complex interactions of your particular business relationships. Say your credit card has a special deal at a retailer you've shopped at before--you'll get an alert. Finally, there's a social angle: you can set up your own "buying clubs" for deals you like and get rewarded when your friends take advantage of those deals.
You get the most value out of the service if you give it your loyalty data for the retailers you do business with. You can also have your marketing e-mails sent to your own ChoozOn account, and it will process them for you and tell you which ones are likely important to you (OtherInBox is easier to use since it reaches into your existing e-mail inbox to get your marketing messages, but it doesn't do very much in the way of offer analysis.)
ChoozOn's greatest technical barrier to consumer adoption is this setup hassle, though. Entering loyalty and account data and redirecting e-mails is a lot to ask from consumers. The service will still be useful with limited specific information, like brand preferences, but like billing aggregation services, it's unlikely to become indispensable until a consumer commits to it by doing the data entry.
The other big challenge: Facebook, which is launching its own deal service. It won't do everything ChoozOn does, but it doesn't have to. It's Facebook. Its viral tendrils of Likes and Sends will garner more attention to deals than ChoozOn can muster. And if Facebook uses its advertising algorithms to automatically find deals for users based on their own likes and their social networks, it'll be a serious threat to pretty much every company in the deal aggregation space.
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Meanwhile, ChoozOn's pitch to brands is that they can get their messages across more effectively to consumers that are interested in them, plus get data on which consumers, or which type of them, are marking their products or brands and ones they want to watch. ChoozOn will make money from referral fees (affiliate deals for purchases and lead generation for loyalty program sign-ups) and possibly from targeted advertising.
Fayyad told me that in addition to direct deals with more than 350 major brands for getting promotional data, the service has hooks into deal sites like Groupon and its competitors, many of which conveniently have APIs.
I got a quick demo of this product, and it looked useful and easy enough to understand. Although, as I said, consumers will have to set it up to make the most of it. There's a lot the company could do to improve that process, which I'll leave it as an exercise for the team. Also, users will have to remember to go to the site (compared to, say, Invisible Hand, which reminds you, when you most need reminding, if you're about to spend more than necessary). But the effort to set up or remember to use ChoozOn may be worthwhile. It looks like it'll be easier to scan this one site for deals and offers than it is to hit the Web and surf the necessary half-dozen sites to make sure you're not overpaying for something.