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Merchant marketing platforms provide small brick-and-mortar or e-commerce businesses with the opportunity to market their products or services to a larger, online audience via a virtual marketplace. This marketplace often frames these marketing opportunities as daily or ongoing deals that offer discounts on particular products or services.
Small businesses that may not have a lot of resources to spend on marketing can utilize merchant marketing platforms to grow their customer bases and increase their online presence. Mid-market and enterprise businesses can use merchant marketing platforms to run targeted campaigns to promote a specific service or simply reach a specific demographic. Businesses (of all sizes) can also leverage merchant marketing platforms to clear out excess products at a discounted rate or promote under-utilized services. Merchant marketing platforms commonly integrate with restaurant POS and retail POS systems as a means to redeem digital coupons.
To qualify for inclusion in the Merchant Marketing category, a product must:
LivingSocial is the local marketplace to buy and share the best things to do in your city and beyond. With unique and diverse offerings each day, we inspire members to discover everything from weekend excursions to one-of-a kind events and experiences to exclusive gourmet dinners to seasonal family outings and more.
Travelzoo is a global media commerce company. With more than 28 million members in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific and 25 offices worldwide, Travelzoo publishes offers from more than 2,000 travel, entertainment and local companies. Travelzoo's deal experts review offers to find the best deals and confirm their true value.
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HalfOffDeals.com is one of the Internet's largest provider of 25-90% off gift deals. The country's largest fulfillment center for half-off dining and half-off entertainment deals sold online in conjunction with our media partners.
Deals.Today works together with more than 1.000 brands and local shops. As a shopper, you will get all their deals, offers and coupons faster than any other website. Deals.Today don't "scrape" deals of the internet or wait until a shopper enters the coupon. They bring you, in collaboration with the brands and local shops, the best deals instantly.
Wine Routes, a new app that helps users plan trips and travel to wine country, has reinvented the wine country experience. The app, developed by Sonoma County based technology company Grapexchange, is a dual-purpose platform delivering highly integrated services to both consumers and wine businesses, allowing them to connect and grow like never before. Anyone in the industry knows, there is a disconnect between brands and consumers that has significantly hindered wine lovers in their search for
Merchant marketing software provides businesses, particularly small businesses, with the ability to market their services to a larger audience than they would otherwise be able to reach. These tools provide these businesses with marketing opportunities at a low cost while leveraging the platform’s large audience to advertise the business’ services. In most cases, these platforms provide a marketplace for a business to advertise a specific discount on a product or a service.
Unlike a traditional marketing platform, merchant marketing software provides small businesses with access to marketing services without needing to purchase additional software or dedicating a large amount of time to creating a marketing campaign. The goal is to increase a business’ customer base and customer loyalty while the platform either charges small fees from the business to create a listing or takes a percentage of completed transactions. While the focus on discounts limits a business’ options for marketing, the ease of integration with social media and the option for analytics provides useful tools that may be prohibitively expensive for a very small business.
While there is an element of competition that can impede the success of a campaign if there are more attractive deals available from other businesses, the benefits often outweigh the risks. Given that the platform typically takes a portion of completed sales, if no sales are made, there is little risk in creating a listing. However, businesses should be cognizant of their ability to handle increased demand and foot traffic. If a business is unable to handle 500 new customers over the next six months, they should be aware of how many people can purchase the offered deal and when the offer expires and adjust accordingly.
Key Benefits of Merchant Marketing Software
Merchant marketing software is intended to help small businesses market themselves through small-scale campaigns, leveraging the merchant marketing platform’s user base. These campaigns typically revolve around offering an exclusive discount on a product or service that is available only to users of the platform. Furthermore, the campaigns are often low cost and require little work on the part of the small business. Though some platforms have self-service offerings where businesses can create their own campaign, many have dedicated sales and editorial teams who take the business’ information and craft the campaign for them. Businesses may have access to a merchant dashboard or merchant portal that allows them to see various metrics regarding their campaign as well as customer demographics.
For most businesses, marketing is both a requirement and a potentially huge expense. Low-cost options can be extremely valuable for businesses, and small businesses in particular, without a lot of extra funds to spend. While merchant marketing software doesn’t provide marketing in the typical sense, these solutions do provide an element of customer outreach. Tools may offer targeted emails, and the discount page is often shareable via social media so the business can use more traditional marketing methods to get the word out about their campaign.
Low cost and low effort — Most merchant marketing platforms are easy to use and don’t require up-front payment. This makes them ideal for small businesses and businesses who do not have a large marketing budget.
Increased visibility — Many merchant marketing platforms have a dedicated user base always on the lookout for a good discount. By creating a campaign, businesses have access to this user base that they would likely not have been able to target before.
Loyalty building — Not only can a business attract new customers, but they can also bring back lapsed customers who need a bit of enticement to return. With each new and returning customer, there is the opportunity to build loyalty so they return to the business again and again.
Merchant marketing is typically used by smaller businesses with smaller marketing budgets, but anyone can use merchant marketing platforms. If creating a campaign will not put undue stress on your business or your workforce, then it can be a viable marketing option. Leveraging an already loyal customer base can only increase the success of a campaign.
Small businesses — Merchant marketing platforms are low cost and low effort on the part of the business, so they easily fit into a small budget. These platforms can also be effectively used to grow a customer base or increase the loyalty of an existing customer base.
Businesses trying to move excess inventory — A great way to get rid of excess inventory or unwanted inventory is to discount it. With a merchant marketing platform, businesses can not only discount this inventory but also make it available to customers all over the country or globe. While some platforms may have location restrictions, leveraging their user base to move excess inventory can open up shelves for newer, and better, inventory.
Businesses debuting new services — Sometimes it can be difficult to get the word out about an exciting new service or product being offered by a business. By leveraging merchant marketing platforms to advertise these new services, businesses can make new and returning customers aware of a new offering without a large advertising campaign.
There are a few different varieties of merchant marketing platforms.
Discounts — Most merchant marketing platforms revolve around discounts and coupons. The exclusivity of the discount to the platform attracts users, enabling the business to reach a wider customer base.
Products — Some platforms exclusively offer products rather than coupons for services. These products may be purchased and shipped via the platform, but some may send users to the vendor’s website to purchase the products at a discount.
Niche — Some merchant marketing platforms specialize in a specific industry or niche. That may be products and services related to a specific hobby, or that may be beauty deals or fitness deals exclusively.
Location-specific — Many merchant marketing platforms revolve around specific cities or regions in order to make it easy for residents to find businesses near them to patronize. This often applies to platforms that offer services that are performed either at customers’ homes or in a business’ storefront.
Merchant dashboard — A merchant dashboard allows businesses to access data about their customers and campaigns via the back end of the merchant marketing platform. Users can view important information regarding their campaigns, create a new campaign, or edit, pause, and restart a current campaign.
Credit card processing — Many merchant marketing platforms allow customers to purchase directly from the platform. This is partially how the platform makes money, but it also makes it easy for both the customer and the business to complete the transaction.
POS integration — Once a customer has purchased a service or product, they may need to go into the business’ storefront to receive their service. To redeem the customer’s coupon or voucher, the merchant marketing platform may be able to integrate with the merchant’s POS system to easily complete the redemption process. This allows the business to keep track of how many vouchers have been redeemed and also makes it easy to complete the transaction if the customer purchases additional items or services. If the POS system can automatically deduct the appropriate amount, it makes it much easier for the business to maintain accurate records and serve the customer in a timely fashion.
Loyalty programs — Some merchant marketing platforms have some kind of loyalty program or the option for a business to create their own loyalty program. This helps both attract new customers and retain present customers.
Reports and analytics — Accurate and expansive data is crucial for a successful business, and many merchant marketing platforms have the ability to create reports or analytics based on the performance of a business’ campaign. Customer demographics, units sold, and units redeemed are all important information that can help a business improve their performance in the future.
Marketplace — Most merchant marketing platforms use the marketplace model by providing a platform for customers to search for the services they are interested in and choose the service that works best for them. Some platforms may allow users to find the closest service to them, helping businesses find local customers.
Unsuccessful campaigns — Given the marketplace setup of many merchant marketing platforms, there is competition among campaigns. Competition means that there is a chance that a campaign may not sell as many units as the business would like. A business should prepare for the possibility that their campaign will not be a huge success, and be able to support their business without the campaign.
Inability to handle increased demand — Ideally a business’ campaign will be wildly successful and result in increased business for the foreseeable future. However, a small business may not be equipped to handle an exponential increase in business. This can result in slow service or broken appointments, which make customers unhappy. Before running a campaign, ensure that your business can handle the increased foot traffic and appointments with appropriate technology and employee coverage.
Fees — Each merchant marketing platform has a slightly different fee structure, but they all make money from the campaigns that they run. Some take a percentage of all profits and some require an upfront fee to run the campaign. Make sure you understand the fee structure and are comfortable with it before committing to a platform.
Difficulty redeeming vouchers — Once a customer participates in a campaign by purchasing a voucher or coupon, that voucher must then be redeemed by the business running the campaign. This can be done a variety of ways, but the easiest is often scanning a barcode into a POS system or directly into the marketplace. However, depending on the technology available to the business and the technology used by the merchant marketing platform, there may be difficulty redeeming vouchers. To ensure a smooth experience for customers, become familiar with the method of redeeming vouchers and ensure that your business can accommodate it.