Update: A Google spokesperson confirmed to VentureBeat that location-based deals will be coming to Google+ next week:
“While prepping for a test of a new check-in offer feature, we published a support center article a little early and have since removed the article. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused. Please stay tuned for roll out of this feature for merchants, which we’re targeting for next week.”
The Google+ social network may be adding features to its mobile app that will allow users to claim deals when they check in at locations, according to a Google support document.
One year ago this week, Groupon rejected a $6 billion buyout offer from Google. Even without the daily deals acquisition, Google has been attacking local commerce from all sides. Google Offers launched soon after the Groupon deal went pear-shaped, and the company continues to buy smaller deals sites, such as TheDealMap, that give it skin in the game. Now Google may finally be gluing together all those pieces into something that will capture elusive local dollars.
The Google+ check-in offers feature was first discovered by blogger Mike Blumenthal, who found it listed in the documentation for Google Places. The link appears to be broken now, but Blumenthal copied this text, which shows Google explaining how businesses can sign up to start broadcasting location-based offers to customers:
If your customers have to visit your locations in order to do business with you, you can request that they check-in on Google+ in order to redeem your offers. They can choose to share the check-in publicly or with some of their circles, which helps spread the word about your business on Google+. They can also choose to keep their check-in private and still redeem an offer.
If your customers do not have to visit your location, for example if you serve homes or businesses by delivery or by callouts, you can keep this option off (set to “No”) and customers will not be asked to check-in when they redeem offers. We use the Service Areas and Location Settings setting on your listing to determine if you have a service area for offers that have already been created. When you create new offers, you can choose whether to allow a check-in during redemption.
TechCrunch has screenshots of a self-service page for business owners to create their own offers. Daily deals and location-based check-ins have been moving closer together for some time. Last week we reported that Foursquare was integrating Scoutmob deals into its service. That news was followed closely by the announcement from deals aggregator Yipit that the company would also be bringing location-based deals to Foursquare, from sites like Gilt City and dozens of smaller players.
If Google is indeed getting ready to turn on an integrated mobile/local deals product, it has a lot to draw upon. While the company was also unsuccessful in an earlier bid to buy Yelp, Google added the Zagat guidebook its portfolio of local offerings for a reported $151 million.
With a little more glue and some good fortune, consumers may see something truly remarkable in the near future.