Facebook just took the next step in its Facebook Deals service by announcing that it plans to test Groupon-like offers.
The service will get started in San Francisco, San Diego, Dallas, Atlanta, and Austin, Texas, the company said last week in a statement. It will be part of Facebook’s existing Deals program, which lets businesses offer specials to users. With the new feature, Facebook’s staff will work with businesses to spotlight deals and encourage users to share them with friends.
Facebook’s program will also let users see discount offers from partner services, including ReachLocal, Gilt City, Tippr, HomeRun.com, PopSugar City, KGB Deals, Plum District and Zozi.
When Facebook Deals launched last year, it was inevitable that the company would make a more aggressive play in the space. By going both the aggregation route and providing its own group-buying infrastructure, Facebook has the potential to unleash a double-whammy on the industry. As I see it, two of the biggest challenges for players in this market are signing up merchants and providing relevant deals located near the consumer on a regular basis. Facebook has an amazing channel to talk to all merchants with Facebook Pages in a specific market, which could solve both problems.
I can see the tagline already — “Friends don’t let friends pay retail.”