WASHINGTON'S LEADING BUSINESS MAGAZINE

Seattle area startups refine the daily-deals model

Pirq and ChoozOn usher in new approaches.

While
scrutiny over daily deals has been generating headlines recently, the digital
coupon craze is here to stay. Even as Groupon finds itself in the midst of an SEC investigation of its profit metrics, other companies are plowing ahead with offerings that tweak the model
somewhat.

Seattle-based ChoozOn aggregates
coupons to help consumers cut through the clutter in their in-boxes. ChoozOn’s
site was launched in April and the company has just secured its first round of
angel funding. Meanwhile, Kirkland’s
Pirq launched Thursday morning, addressing redemption concerns
associated with the current daily deals model.

ChoozOn integrates social
networking into its site by creating “deal clubs” in which users can
bargain hunt together. “Choozers” can follow what others are shopping for and
make recommendations of products.

Pirq users
are told about deals near them based on cellphone GPS tracking. They then
“commit” to deals nearby, and scan a Microsoft Tag with their mobile devices.
The deal is redeemed on the spot.

Many
merchants have complained about delayed or duplicate redemption of daily-deal
coupons as well as a lack of repeat business. Pirq’s model tries to eliminate
these hassles. It also controls traffic flow to a business by limiting the
hours during which deals are offered and redeemed.

Pirq’s new
app benefits the company as well: While deeply discounted deals often have
companies like Groupon borrowing against themselves, the instant redemption
feature of Pirq protects Pirq as well as merchants.

In contrast
with ChoozOn, which tailors deals to users based on their brand preferences,
Pirq focuses on proximity-based deals, taking advantage of GPS tracking through
mobile devices.

Making use of this smartphone feature
is the latest trend in the daily deal and app world: Even Groupon’s founders
are hopping on board, investing in WhosHere, a social media app that lets users
text-message nearby strangers.

Shopping from phones is another
emerging trend. “By 2015 consumers will spend about $119 billion on goods and
services bought via their mobile phones,” says James Sun, CEO of Pirq.