While start-ups Groupon and Living Social have taken an early lead in deals and discount offers, credit card stalwart American Express is showing it’s got designs on being a big player in this space. The company is unveiling a partnership with Facebook and the introduction of a new social platform called Link, Like, Love, that will bring American Express deals to Facebook users through their social graph.
The service will work similar to previous partnerships with Foursquare and SCVNGR and will allow Facebook users to link their American Express cards to the Link, Like, Love application. When they do that, they can view offers and deals that have been curated for them based on their likes, interest and check-ins and those of their friends. American Express is partnering with companies like 20th Century Fox , Dunkin’ Donuts, Whole Foods Market, Outback Steakhouse, Virgin America, H&M, Westin Hotels & Resorts and Sheraton Hotels & Resorts to offer deals. But it expects to expand its offerings to include Membership Rewards points deals, entertainment access, exclusive content and special events.
Users can just select the deals they like from their Link, Like, Love page and it will get linked to their card. There’s no need to pre-purchase any deal. When they go redeem an offer, they just use their card and the discount is reflected on their AmEx statement. Card members will also be able to share offers among friends.
The value for consumers is that they don’t have to print out coupons as they often do with many daily deal programs. They can just receive offers based on what they’re already doing on Facebook so presumably the deals will be more relevant to them. These are both issues with many existing deal services. We’ll have to still see how tailored the deals will be for people and whether or not there is enough volume to achieve that. But it’s a logical step for American Express.
For merchants, the deals can be attractive because it doesn’t require any training for employees and more importantly, it allows them to measure the actual effectiveness of the deal in real time. Business owners can access their own dashboard to see deal redemptions and customer loyalty data. American Express is also reaching out to small local businesses with a new self-service tool called Go Social that will allow merchants to easily establish their presence on multiple social networks and offer deals and discounts.
American Express has a pretty impressive operation on its hands. It’s got a very pain-free way to redeem deals and it’s got a lot of tools and data for merchants, so they can see how they’re “closing the loop” on discount offers. Presumably, American Express’ relationship with businesses and merchants will help attract new offers. That’s going to be a key challenge. It’s unclear how many resources American Express will be throwing at corralling new deals, but it needs a steady flow of them to keep people coming back. Also, because American Express is the third largest credit card company, its deals will not appeal to non-card members, and I’m not sure how many will sign up for a card just to access these offers. But this shows the daily deals market is still evolving quickly and there are many players that can step up their game.