Merchant Self-Service

Mamta Singh
Aug 18 · 4 min read

Self-Service is an industry-wide solution across domains to address the scalability of businesses, empowerment of end-users (Merchants in this case), and reduced turnaround time. Today, I plan to write about my journey in Groupon with Merchant Self-Service and its evolution. This will give you a sneak peek into how we are transforming the Merchant journey with our engineering solutions.

I started my journey last year in Groupon, with a goal to design and build Engineering solutions for Merchant Self-Service. I kickstarted the process with a deep understanding of the Merchant journey directly from a market analysis study, Merchant feedback, connecting with our Market research team, Sales teams, and the Product team.

Historically in Groupon, Merchants were onboarded by our internal sales team. This methodology of sales-driven Merchant engagement (human focus for each Merchant and each deal coming live) was effective but what we needed was to scale, including quicker turnaround time.

We had a goal to build a robust platform to bring more supply of inventory to our marketplace. This platform would be simple to use and easy to onboard without any human intervention. We focused on building our Self-Service tools, keeping Merchant success at the focal point:

  • Ease of onboarding and deal creation anywhere, anytime.
  • Empowering our Merchants to manage their own deals.
  • Provide Insights and Recommendations.

Keeping this in mind, we focused on the vision of Merchant Self-Service everywhereand our landscape of Self-Service tools:

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  • Existing Merchant Onboarding and Campaign Creation Tools to provide an easy and seamless experience, with which our Merchants can create their campaigns.
  • Campaign Management tools for empowering Merchants to run their campaigns, tailor-fit them according to business needs and capacity instantly or within a few hours. This has been recently launched.
  • Outreach of existing tools in all markets: The Campaign Creation tool was available only in North America and was recently launched in the UK, and we are currently working to expand it to all 14 countries. The Campaign Management tool was launched recently in North America and is also in the roadmap of expansion.
  • Reduce Support contact points with a focused knowledge base.

How are we developing these tools?

We are shifting our focus from Groupon Service focused teams to Business Goal focused Agile Squads. This will evolve our ways of working, keeping common business goals with Squad Owners. We are improvising tools regularly from our business insights, having regular monthly demos to all stakeholders, showcasing our incremental development on the focus areas.

While developing these tools, we ran into various engineering complexities. Here are a couple and how we addressed them:

  • Management tools enabled updates and delete operations on a campaign (aka deal). The deal is the entity stored in distributed downstream services architecture. Publishing changes to a live platform as a big distributed transaction was not a feasible solution, with multiple points of failure possible. In case of failure, both consistency and availability cannot be guaranteed, this requires proper evaluation based on impact. We designed our system to ensure availability with eventual consistency on a live platform, in the event of any failure.
  • Handling concurrent updates and consistency of deals in the live platform was evaluated with informed decisions of using pessimistic/optimistic locking and its impacts.
  • Expanding our tools to international markets involved complexities of market-specific business processes, regulations, automating, and fine-tuning our manual processes. Initially, the tool was designed with one market specifications. For smooth expansion to other markets, we have optimized and made the tool more configurable.

Adoption of Self Service tools by our Merchants

More and more of our fellow Merchants can now use our Campaign Creation and Campaign Management tools to have full ownership of their campaigns running on the Groupon platform.

Is that all we need to do? Surely not, so what’s next?

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We thrive for more and are gearing up about how we can make Groupon the marketplace for our Merchants. We aim to improvise our tools to reflect our value proposition for Merchants, in addition to Merchants making more money on the platform, we also want to connect them to our vast consumer community. This encompasses multiple iterations on:

  • Ease the Merchant experience.
  • Enable Merchants to create high performing deals with intelligent recommendations.
  • Approval process powered by system intelligence.
  • Multiple initiatives to bring more supply to the platform.
  • More apt knowledge base to support contact queries.

And the list goes on… I am thrilled to be part of Merchant Self-Service and to help shape our platform. It’s a perfect handshake between product, engineering, and business teams.

If you are excited and passionate about bringing change in Merchant Engineering with your technical acumen and skills, please reach out to us at

Groupon Product and Engineering

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