The restaurant industry is one of the most important to established group discount platform, Groupon. But what role will the sector play in a similar, but somewhat reverse version that just debuted?
The UForce.com is a new group buying marketplace that harnesses the power of social media to allow consumers to join together and demand the best value for products and services. The site, which has just launched, is backed by more than five million buyers poised and ready to make deals online, according to company statements.
Like Groupon or Living Social, TheUForce.com enables consumers to group together to get discounts on products and services. But unlike those sites, TheUForce.com allows consumers to buy what they already know they want. Rather than waiting for deals to come to them, members of TheUForce.com create “buying missions” that specify products or services they wish to buy, then band together with other buyers to force personalized group deals on the site.
So far, restaurants aren’t one of the service’s listed industries. National brands in categories such as travel, wireless, computer hardware, eye care, floral gift, diet plans and more make group offers to provide the requested product or service at a price that reflects that buying power.
But CEO Andrew Atkin said he’s looking at adding a casual dining component to the categories. He said companies such as finer dining pizzerias could potentially undercut their competition by leveraging the captive buying audience on TheUForce.com. Conversely, Groupon's main restaurant industry selling point is new customer acquisition.
“Take Mother’s Day,” Atkin said. “If 500 people want to buy a pizza on that day, you could issue a coupon to that group of people. So if we have a pizza seller on the network (they could) basically provide (users) an offer that beats what’s out there right now, because here’s a group that have identified themselves.”
The other potential benefit to pizzerias would be saving on the money it takes to create paper coupons and promotions. When promotions take, the site gets a cut, and there’s a transaction fee to pay.
Atkin said companies interested in making themselves available to customers can register on the system for free for the rest of the year, and get alerted when people want to buy a product. Strategic partnerships are still being determined, especially for the yet-to-be-posted restaurant industry.