Groupon moves into wood industryCHICAGO, IL

- Rileys Real Wood Furniture Eugene, OR, is among a growing number of wood industry service firms and retailers adopting Groupon online marketing programs. In February, Rileys Furniture offered local consumers $200 worth of furniture for just $50.

Chicago-based Groupon has attracted millions of consumers by providing such local online coupons at a steeply discounted rate. A "deal" is triggered when the pre-set threshold number of consumers buys in.

Consumers redeem the coupons for services, and the merchant benefits, says Groupon, from word of mouth and online marketing exposure, even if the Groupon promotion means goods or services are sold at a loss. Groupon has set its sites on wood products businesses, and a number have tried the program, including flooring, windows and furniture firms.

The Groupon process for Rileys ran like this: Consumers purchased a $50 coupon online, then redeemed it at Rileys for up to $200. Groupon took a percentage of the revenue from the coupons that were redeemed, remitting the balance to Rileys Real Wood Furniture over the course of the next few weeks. One catch: the deal is only activated if a preset number of customers subscribe to the online offer - in Riley's case, 15. While it cost Rileys to honor the discounts, Groupon says the promotional value and word of mouth is worth much more than discounted price.

Groupon has set its sites on wood products firms, among them flooring, window and furniture firms. Keystone Windows & Doors, near Seattle, for example, recently offered $600 worth of windows and doors for $199; and $300 toward the purchase of one door for $99. Consumers were encouraged to apply the $600 toward any order of 10 or more windows or a $7,500 wood bay window..

Western Gardiners Furniture, Baltimore, also offered $200 worth of furniture for $50 this past March, while Coastal Wood Flooring & Supplies, Sun Valley, CA, promoted  $250 worth of flooring for $100 last December.

Furniture manufacturer and retailer Ashley Group discounted even more steeply at nine stores: $25 for $100 worth of furniture in Charlotte last July; and in November $25 for $75 worth of furniture in Cincinnati. Ashley Group has use the program at nine of its stores around the country, says Groupon.

Groupon last week augmented its program with Groupon Now, which requires no advance purchases. The company also promotes the program to businesses "Groupon for Businesses" banner. It's effort is part of a broader trend by which companies are using social marketing to sell goods and services.
Starwood hotels has begun selling furniture, its branded "Heavenly Beds," on a Facebook site, for example.

Rileys promotes its wood furniture as locally made. "Since 1990, owner and founder, Troy Jentzsch has sought to provide sustainable quality wood furniture that's built to order right here in Eugene, OR," made from Red oak, western maple, and cherry. One local furniture maker grew significantly through its affiliation with Riley Real Wood Furniture.

"In 1999, our partnership afforded them the opportunity to more than double the size of their facility, triple their production capacity, and cut lead times," says the firm's website. 

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.