After Quietly Acquiring SnapSaves, Groupon Launches Snap, Paying You To Shop

Groupon continues apace with its plans to evolve from an online daily deals giant into a wider e-commerce player, with an emphasis on mobile and local purchases. Today the company is launching a new app called Snap — which provides iOS and Android users with a set list of products, and gives you money back when you purchase them, by way of a photographed and uploaded receipt.

Snap did not arise out of a Groupon vacuum: it comes from an acquisition of a Toronto, Canada-based startup called SnapSaves (originally spun out from BuyTopia), which Chicago-based Groupon made in June of this year. It was a quiet move, picked up by local press but not many others, with the terms undisclosed.

“It got some pick up in the Canada and Chicago media, but we didn’t proactively announce it to press because we knew this was coming,” a spokesperson tells me.

Those who were already SnapSaves customers will continue to be able to use their accounts as normal, just under a new (snappier?) brand name.

Snap is launching first in the U.S. and Canada, and while Groupon is open to expanding that to more markets, it’s initially going to test reception in North America.

Snap will be going head to head with a number of other apps that offer similar services including Checkout 51, Ibotta, Grocery IQ, Receipt Hog and SavingStar, but what it will have over these others for now is scale.

The app will be marketed to Groupon’s 52 million active customers, and Snap says that it already counts some 92 million active downloads of the app. “Our reach is unmatched in driving sales volume and velocity,” the company noted in a blog post announcing the deal.

In addition to selecting items from the lists on Snap, users can use the app to create their own grocery lists. When they have racked up $20 in cash back on purchases, they can “cash out” and get their money back. Typical returns range from any gallon of milk giving you $1.00 cash back on any milk purchase to $1.00 cash back on any Glad Trash Bags when you buy another Glad product.

The app is interesting for a few reasons.

For one, it puts Groupon closer into the world of selling consumer packaged goods — something it started initially with the launch of Groupon Basics earlier this year.

It also puts Groupon ever closer to associating its brand with mobile commerce and also with local shopping — two areas that it has been pushing hard with its own products like the point-of-sale restaurant app Breadcrumb (also developed by way of an acquisition), and also with partnerships and integrations with the likes of Apple and Apple Pay.

In the past couple of years, Groupon has displayed a pretty decent track record for acquiring and integrating smaller U.S. startups into their wider strategic remit — in contrast to the very large acquisitions it made early on in its life to further inorganic growth, such as in Europe.

In that vein, if Snap proves to be a hit, it will be worth watching how Groupon chooses to evolve it. One direction could see the company integrating payments directly into the app, so that users will turn to Snap not just to select and later redeem their purchase savings, but to make the purchases themselves. With companies like Amazon, PayPal and Square all honing in on the same space for local commerce, you can’t help but wonder if Groupon will keep coming to the party, too.

A video of how it works is below: