Groupon shakes up tablet POS category

With Gnome, based on an Apple iPad mini, the company hopes to move beyond marketing introductions to help small merchants build customer loyalty.


By some estimates, more than half of small, local retailers and merchants are still using legacy cash registers. That's why so many companies — from NCR to LightSpeed to Revel Systems to ShopKeep — are enthusiastic about the tablet point-of-sale (POS) market. Now, you can add another well-known name to the mix — small-business marketing service powerhouse Groupon.

The company best known for pioneering the daily deals concept — helping thousands of small businesses pull first-time customers through the front door — is rolling out Gnome (pronounced "Genome") in North America after a limited pilot in a handful of markets. It will probably be priced starting at about $10 per month, according to the company's senior vice president of marketing, Rich Williams.

The technology uses an iPad mini tablet to automatically recognize Groupon vouchers stored on the Groupon mobile apps for Apple iOS or Android, if someone enters the establishment with an active Bluetooth connection. If someone isn't using their smartphone, the system can find a customer's vouchers through a rudimentary name look-up. The intention is to help small merchants build deeper relationships with their customers. "It is meant to be simple and painless for employers and staff at small businesses," Williams said.

Among other things, the POS system will allow merchants to customize marketing campaigns based on purchase or visit history, collect and share feedback through connections with social media, and enable SMBs to respond to inquiries or requests. 

The platform includes basic inventory management functions, and Groupon is building integrations between Gnome's data and accounting software applications such as QuickBooks and Xero. 

The initial target for Gnome will be existing Groupon merchants accounts, Williams said.