Groupon Strengthens Travel Vertical With Plans to Drive M-Commerce in Asia Pacific

Groupon recently added new regional roles in the travel and goods verticals with a strong focus to drive mobile commerce in the region.

Sean Seah, a former e-commerce exec at Langham Hotels, has joined the U.S.-based daily deals site as managing director of Groupon Travel Asia Pacific.

He will be tasked to establish merchant relationships with key players in the hospitality and travel sector as well as implement and drive mobile commerce, including other technology platforms across the region.

In Groupon’s Q2 earnings, its CEO Andrew Mason said Groupon is fast becoming one of the largest mobile e-commerce companies as nearly one-third of North American transactions originated from mobile devices in July.

A recent comScore Mobile Metrix report supported this claim as it revealed Groupon’s mobile web and app audience was 17.8 million visitors, while its comparable desktop audience was 12.4 million in July. The blog post further explained several factors in Groupon’s favor to flex its m-commerce muscle in America such as having app real estate and geo-targeting capabilities, for example.

In Asia Pacific, the mobile commerce market for physical goods is expected to reach US$139 billion this year, according to Informa research. The Mobile Marketing Association also states that more than 75 percent of mobile web users are engaging in mobile shopping in the region.

Operationally, Groupon sites appear to target customers locally across key markets in the region.

For instance, the Singapore Groupon site has partnered with Visa to offer exclusive deals, with segments focused in goods, getaways, and shopping. While the Hong Kong site did not have a partnership with Visa, it has a premium category offering deals for luxury goods.

In China, Groupon has merged its local operations known as Gaopeng with FTuan, a similar site owned by Internet company Tencent Holdings in June. In late 2010, Gaopeng was created as a joint venture between Groupon and Tencent.

At its prime, China is estimated to have 3,600 group-buying companies in 2010 and 2011 but that number has dropped to 1,000 following consolidation in the market, according to iResearch.

 Sean Seah, MD at Groupon Travel Asia Pacific

  • He will continue to be based in Hong Kong.
  • Reports directly to Aaron Cooper, senior VP at Groupon U.S.
  • Previous roles: VP eBusiness at Langham Hospitality Group; GM Travelocity (Zuji) Asia Pacific, eCommerce manager at Air New Zealand.

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