Online Scheduling Software…for Daily Deals

There are several technologies crucial to the Daily Deals space. Email delivery, Email management, eCommerce platform, analytics, scheduling, reward platform, social marketing, etc.  Some of them should be looked at by Daily Deal companies in order to operate a more effective operation. Some future posts will mention several technologies while others will only focus on one. This post will focus on the popular technology of Online Appointment Scheduling.

In December of 2011, Groupon announced the acquisition of Canadian based OpenCal appointment scheduling software. (They bought them in September of 2011) Through Opencal, Groupon is providing a calendaring solution to merchants so they can provide better service to customers and improve the merchant’s operational effectiveness. For merchants such as Spas and beauty salons, this is a necessity. Simply managing the scheduling of customers coming in from deal sites alone can be operational hell. An online solution geared towards helping merchants schedule better and perhaps improve customer retention and spend certainly adds value. It also makes sense to offer customers the ability of buying a daily deal and immediately book their appointment. This leads to better customer experience, less waiting times, better management of the schedule on the merchant’s side and less returns from the customer.

So now that Groupon is offering such a service, the question is, “are other deal sites following suit?” Online scheduling solutions have become quite popular with merchants over the past couple of years and continue to grow in popularity. Who uses them? Spas, Beauty salons, Dentists, Orthodontists, Doctor Offices, Classes (yoga, dance, etc), Tutors, Pet groomers, etc. Are Daily Deal sites using them to help Merchants and their customers? More and more are. It just makes sense.

However, some of these systems are better than others, more expensive than others, some have APIs…most don’t, some have the ability of Deal sites offering it to merchants as a value add, while others needs merchants to pay for it. So where does the evaluation start? There are hundreds of online scheduling software solutions at the moment. Which ones actually work within the Daily Deals space, which ones work in Canada, which ones can work in Quebec in French? Let us look at one leading online scheduling software that has been getting very positive attention in the Daily Deal market lately, Setster.

We have decided to focus on Setster because in April, they announced the launch of their API for Daily Deal companies, making it even more effective and valuable for Deal sites and Merchants to benefit from this type of solution.

Both Deal sites and Merchants find it challenging to properly handle the influx of customers from a Deals campaign. Poorly managed appointment scheduling leads to negative customer reactions and much higher rates of returns and loss of customers. None of which Deal sites or merchants can afford. Booking appointments immediately and easily after purchase is certainly one of the main areas to be improved in this industry. Yes, Groupon purchased their own online scheduling software company but most Daily Deal sites cannot afford the same strategy. Enter Setster’s API; enabling Daily Deal companies to easily leverage the power of Online Scheduling for their merchants.

Setster’s new API allows daily deal companies to integrate it’s online scheduling solution both into their own website, as well as the websites of their merchants. Buyers of deal vouchers can, therefore, schedule an appointment with the merchant as soon as a deal has been purchased. This enables each merchant to allocate specific times and resources to deal with the demand of the deal campaign. As a result, daily deal companies are able to offer easy scheduling for participating merchants and ensure that every voucher purchased is redeemed, thus reducing returns and helping to convert consumers into longer-term clients for their merchants.

So, how can Deal services use Setster’s API?

They can re-sell this service as their own through a white label option, or offer it to merchants for FREE, as an added-value incentive of working with them, or simply get the merchants to buy it themselves. Our last post, discussed how more and more Deal sites are looking at offering their merchants value-added technology in order to improve operational and marketing effectiveness. This is another example of that.

Here is what Edward Lujan, founder of Setster stated: “While daily deal sites and their promotional buyers are 100% web based, many neighborhood service providers have no web based infrastructure in place to deal with the influx of appointments, communication follow up, even up-selling and future marketing. We want to change this. The ability to transition the promotional buyer to the merchant is critical for the success of both the deal company and the merchant. Done wrong, the business will lose money on the promotion. Done right, the business will earn a happier long-term client: a client they can manage, market to, and provide other services to. It’s about seeing a real, measurable return on their marketing investment.”

We got authorization from Setster to promote their whitepaper on their API for Daily Deal companies. If you’d like to have a read, please get it here. If not, you can always grab it from Setster’s API site.

It will be a good follow up in 6 months from now to see how many deal sites are leveraging the benefits of online scheduling for their merchants.