April 13th, 2011 | by RUTH BROWN News | Posted In: Tech

Couponocalypse

The Battle for Portland's Pennypinchers

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Another day, another coupon site. Today sees the arrival of yet another "deal-a-day" website in Portland: Scoutmob. Its schtick is that you don't have to pay for the deal, just pull it up on your smart phone and go to the business within a certain time to redeem it—more like a virtual 50% off voucher than the "pay $10 get $20" model favored by sites like Groupon.

It's actually not a bad spin on the concept—you don't end up buying a bunch of deals you'll never actually use. On the flip side, with no financial investment, recipients may have less motivation to actually follow through on visiting the venue and cashing in. Scoutmob seems to be targeted at a younger, geo-location-savvy, digital crowd—one that probably doesn't want to be seen "clipping coupons" like their moms. The site is a lot more 2.0-chic than most of its competitors; the copy is a bit sloppy and lengthy, but it's fine literature compared to some I've seen. 

Still, it raises the question: just how many discounted spa treatments can one city handle?

Scoutmob joins OG coupon site Groupon, social-activity-focused Living Social, charity-supporting site CauseOn, no-discernible-niche Tozmoz, plus a million others all fighting for Portland's pennies. And Facebook is about to roll out its own competitor, Facebook Deals, as is Yellow Pages. Will one site ultimately crush all the others, or will over-saturation spoil the public's appetite for chasing bargains?

The bubble is showing no signs of bursting for now—Groupon is reported to be valued between $15-$25 billion, and Scoutmob itself just scored $1.5 million in VC funding.

So far, 89 people have claimed the first Scoutmob Portland deal for 50% off at make-your-own-pancake restaurant Slappy Cakes.

Ritual declaration of interests: the author has done freelance work for Groupon in the past.

 
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