Groupon’s scramble to bring in fresh talent (and technology) has taken yet another step forward with the acquisition of personalised shopping startup Adku.
The newly acquired company personalises the shopping experience for those visiting e-commerce sites, and was picked up for a price reported to be more than $10m.
In a blog post announcing the move, Adku CEO Ajit Varma said the company had initially been in talks to bring Groupon its technology before realising the team “wanted to be a deeper part of a company that people love.”
We’re looking forward to joining forces with Groupon to have an impact on millions of users and to share in Groupon’s vision of reshaping local commerce.”
The focus on local and social commerce has been at the forefront of Groupon’s recent activities which has seen the voucher site snap up a number of companies and begin to roll out kiosks in tourist hot spots.
Last month we reported on the acquisition of Mertado, a social shopping company that helps customers discover new products.
This followed the purchase of Campfire Labs, another social commerce startup that was in the process of “building technologies towards this goal of having shared experiences with friends.”
The combination of social and location-based technologies should allow Groupon to offer users a personalised e-commerce experience, but it still doesn’t overcome inherent suspicions around the long term viability of voucher sites.
Everyone's read the horror stories of vendors overwhelmed by the sudden demand created by Groupon and the like, while their ability to create repeat business comes under constant criticism.
In relation to its outdoor kiosks at least, there's no suggestion of building customer loyalty, since these target tourists that want to grab a one-time deal while on holiday.
And while retailers who rely on tourists may be pleased with the boost in passing trade, it begs the question- again - is it wise to carry on rolling out new commercial avenues instead of streamline a more valuable longer term strategy?
To further muddy the waters, Groupon is on the receiving end of a Office of Fair Trading investigation after the company was found to have breached UK ad regulations 48 times in less than a year.
Among the most unsavoury accusations included in the investigation is the fact the ASA banned a promotion for cosmetic surgery, stating that it "pressured" consumers into making potentially life-changing decisions in just a few hours.
This flurry of acquisitions may be an attempt by Groupon to reinvent its user experience and offer a more satisfactory service for customer and retailer alike, providing more relevant deals that could encourage repeat business.
Or, it could be a way to simply sell more vouchers regardless of customer loyalty.
Either way, it’s going to be make or break for Groupon this year as its new investors push for the company to keep growing its profit margins.
The publication of its Q4 profits tomorrow will certainly make for interesting reading.