I recently wrote that CityPockets surprised me at the New York Tech Meetup, but I never effectively explained why. The main reason is that daily deals and collective discount systems have become so ubiquitous in online tech that my eyes glaze over as soon as you put a company in that category. (The only exception so far has been Lot 18, which does more right than any other startup I’ve seen this year — more on that in a later post.) But CityPockets is more than just a deal site or shopping accelerator.
CityPockets incorporates all of your social shopping and group discounts into one account, enabling you to manage what deals you have on tap. You can see all of your Groupon, LivingSocial, OpenTable and other coupons on one site, then view by location to zero in on what’s available nearby.
What’s exciting and surprising is that CityPockets has created a secondary market for social shopping. You can now buy and sell discount coupons, and can search for them according to location. When you’re out with a few friends and get hungry, just open CityPockets on your phone to highlight any available discounts at nearby restaurants. With a few clicks you can buy coupons other users have purchased and are ready to sell, bringing impulse purchasing to group discounts.
Likewise, if you’ve ever wanted to unload that impulse purchase for a spa treatment that you’ll never use because it’s 100 blocks away and only good on the second Tuesday of August, now you’ve got a way to resell it. Just select it in your CityPockets account, set a price, and release it to the market.
While the second market for these small deals may always be somewhat limited, there is a lot of interesting potential here. The system currently works with more than two dozen popular coupon-issuing sites, and there is a list of 30 more that users have requested. If millions of Groupon, Yelp and other users knew they could buy and sell deals then I can’t help but think that the potential for a secondary market could quickly go from being a theoretical fantasy to a fully functioning, high volume, distributed market.
To get there CityPockets just has to reach those millions of users, let them know they can trade coupons like equity, and then get them to register and start posting their coupons for sale. I’m rooting for them.
[Parts of this article were originally written for The Faster Times, published July 6, 2011.]