Restaurants have been experimenting with ways to combine geolocation, mobile and social to bring more customers in the door. There are daily deals from the likes of Groupon and LivingSocial, or the ability to offer deals to consumers checking in or using Foursquare, the location-based social platform. Now there’s a new kid on the block: LiveDeal.
Created to offer both flexibility and control to restaurant owners, LiveDeal lets users instantly publish customized offers — whenever they want to. Owners can create a new promotion (or reactivate an old one) at any time, on any day, and have the deal be effective immediately. This gives businesses greater control over their marketing, and satisfies consumers who are simply looking for the best deal at any given moment.
How exactly does it work? Customers can sign up via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or email. They search for deals on the site (via desktop or mobile), where “live” deals are displayed from participating restaurants, along with the expiration date or time for each deal. Once diners choose a deal, they transact directly with the restaurant — no middleman, no emails, and nothing to buy ahead of time. This is quite different from Groupon and LivingSocial, where users have to exchange credit card info and pay for their deal in advance.
LiveDeal users simply arrive at the restaurant, show their online coupon, and receive the deal.
The format is great via desktop: many of the images are mouth-watering, and once you click on a deal, you get a description, photo, restaurant address and phone number, expiration of the deal, and any ‘fine print’ (aka dine-in only). The same pop-up box also has tabs with an ‘about’ section, more photos of the restaurant, and a map to the location.
Jon Isaac, CEO of LiveDeal, states that “Livedeal.com is the online marketplace where both businesses and consumers can communicate and interact in real-time” in the press release. The site went live in San Diego, entering the dining industry in the fourth quarter of 2013; now 20% of the restaurants (~1,000) in the city are experimenting with LiveDeal. Expansion into Los Angeles and San Francisco followed soon after. There is also an app in the works, expected to launch this month (LA Weekly).
Basic listings on the site are free for restaurant owners, and they can limit the number of deals offered; this allows them to avoid overcrowding or being understaffed. The site’s “superior geo-targeting capabilities allow restaurant owners to publish discounts that are visible only to users within a certain radius of the live promotion.” This also means that restaurants with multiple locations can restrict deals to certain specific locations.
According to the company, the site has attracted not just local businesses, but also national chain restaurants, including: Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, Applebees, Hooters and Dave and Busters. Isaac claims that these “larger restaurant chains are now providing LiveDeal with exclusive deals previously unavailable to the public.”
Obviously, consumers have to be looking at the LiveDeal site (or future app) in order to find these deals. With Groupon and LivingSocial, consumers receive daily emails with new offers — but probably receive these emails not at the precise moment when they are hungry and looking for the best local deal.
Foursquare is a more direct competitor; businesses can create specials on their Foursquare page, which (depending on a user’s settings) will pop up when a consumer approaches the business. However, if a hungry diner is searching for the best deal within a 10-20 block radius, LiveDeal may be the more efficient platform — if enough local restaurants are using the site.
So what’s the future for LiveDeal? It will expand to Houston in the near future, with plans to launch in cities across the U.S. in 2014. The format is appealing and efficient for both consumers and restaurants; if enough of both start using the site, we expect LiveDeal will expand rapidly throughout the U.S. Have you tried LiveDeal yet?