Ugh. Here’s something we thought we’d seen the back of: the daily deal. Oh sure, Groupon and its legion of clones limp on, increasingly irrelevant after alienating merchants and customers alike with unreasonable trading terms and uninspiring products. And the Daily Deal’s equally undead relative, the Voucher Site? Well, they’re somehow managing to hang on in there, too – eking out a meagre existence by feeding on crumbs of affiliate revenue.
But these things really are the bargain bin of the Social Commerce world. In fact, let’s be honest: they’re not actually Social Commerce at all. When did you last tweet your friends to say: “Just picked up an amazing voucher for a 30% of meal at Plastic Pizza. You should get one too! #GotNoShame”.
So we were amazed (and a little troubled) to see a respectable giant like Barclaycard dipping its toe into this particular stagnant pool – something they did back in May with their Bespoke Offers site, which claims to offer personalised, daily-deal-style savings to anyone who fancies getting involved. When it launched, industry pundits like Moneysavingexpert.com founder Martin Lewis were quick to point out the worrying lack of exclusives: a large number of the deals on offer were already available via the suppliers’ own websites, such as 25% off at Pizza Express or a free starter at Strada.
Two months later, we’re seeing exactly the same problem – arguably worse – with promos such as “Up to 30% off women’s clothing at The White Company” (it just clicks through to TWC’s standard e-commerce site!) or some shamelessly generic products which one imagines could only ever be sold at discount:
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Hrmmm… not tremendously ‘bespoke’, is it?
In fact, let’s take a closer look at that ‘bespoke’ element: Barclaycard claim that by segmenting their deals by keyword, location and your own purchase history they can help their customers find deals which are personalised and relevant. To be honest, we’re struggling to see how this differs from what’s already out there: Groupon, Amazon Local and hundreds of other daily dealers already offer location filtering. Keyword search is hardly revolutionary. And recommendations based on previous purchases is a wee bit naive: there really aren’t many Off-Road Segway Experience addicts out there. And there’s only so many Dining Club Memberships a growing boy needs.
We’re being cruel, but this kind of top-down deal brokerage is just the worst. If Barclaycard really wanted to help their customers get great deals on the things they want, they wouldn’t be pushing offers at them, they’d be taking requests from them, and they’d be leveraging the second-to-none relationships they have with merchants to bring those requests to life.
Without that kind of requesting system, Barclaycard’s offers are less bespoke, more we-spoke; curation masquerading as selection. Or, as Monty Python had it over 40 years ago, they’re a menu of “Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Baked Beans, Spam, Spam, Spam and Spam”.