Groupon Inc. is preparing a revamped version of its website, starting with “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” buttons to help the daily coupon service do a better job tailoring offers to its 33 million active users.
The company began testing a new design of the site with a small portion of users last month and plans to make it widely available in the coming weeks, Chief Executive Officer Andrew Mason said in a recent interview in San Francisco.
Groupon, after raising $700 million in a November initial public offering, is releasing new products to keep users from defecting to such rivals as LivingSocial. The new website also reflects Mason’s effort to make technology a greater focus at a company brimming with thousands of salespeople, Mason said.
“Our goal is six months from now, when you go to Groupon, it’s going to look and feel very different,” Mason said. “It’s going to be a much more robust and refined service that immediately jumps off the page.”
Software additions like the “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” buttons can help Groupon avoid showing certain deals to the wrong audience, such as offering bikini waxing to men, Mason said. Internet radio service Pandora Media Inc. uses a similar tool to match songs with users’ tastes.
Other additions to Groupon’s site will include more prominent links to Groupon Now, a service for local deals good only for a short period of the day, and categories like health and beauty and food and drink.
Chicago-based Groupon opened an engineering office in Palo Alto, California in 2010. Many elements of the new site design were driven by that office’s 200 employees, Mason said.
Groupon has begun hiring photographers to shoot original images of the local businesses offering deals, replacing the generic stock photos that have populated much of the site, the CEO said.
“We’re trying to bring these deals to life by working with local businesses to take pictures,” he said.
Special events, such as Valentine’s Day, will be prominently featured on Groupon’s home page with an array of deals tied to those occasions. Other seasonal deals could include those associated with back-to-school shopping or local happenings like the Lollapalooza concert in Chicago.
Groupon shares fell last week after the company reported an unexpected loss, excluding certain costs, of 2¢ a share, reflecting higher-than-expected overseas taxes.
The stock slipped less than 1 percent to $21.03 on Feb. 10, the most recent trading day. The shares have climbed 5.2 percent since their Nov. 3 debut.