A few weeks ago, or maybe a few months ago, I saw a Groupon that was too good to pass up. Or was it a Facebook deal? Anyway, I bought it. I remember thinking it was the deal of the century. But now, for the life of me, I can't remember what it was, what service I bought it on, where I saved the info about it, or when it expires. Oops.
There are too many deals services floating around, and many of the deals are really quite awesome. But people are forgetting and losing, or "breaking" (in industry parlance) their coupons all the time. There are services out there designed to keep track of your coupons, and even some that let you sell your about-to-expire coupons to other people. The space to manage these deals, which are in essence a form of currency, is changing fast. One newly updated service, CityPockets, puts more of the pieces together than many, if not all, of its competitors.
First, it is a deals wallet. You send it your deals, and it remembers them for you. CityPockets works with 30 deals and coupon services (but not yet Google's, unfortunately), so almost all the bargains you commit to can be stored in it.
Second, there's a mobile app, so you don't have to carry about a stack of paper coupons on the off chance that you might be able to use one when you're out. CEO Cheryl Yeoh told me that the average deal user has nine active deals at any one time, and that some women, she says, carry around 30 vouchers. Just in case. With CityPockets, you can see your vouchers on a map.
Third (this is where the business is), it's a deal exchange, like Lifesta, DealsGoRound, and CoupRecoup. If you have a sea kayak lesson deal in your wallet that's about to expire, you can put it on the market for anyone else to buy. Except they won't, since sea kayak lessons are the soap-on-a-rope of online deals. Maybe a half-off deal at a good wine store, then. If you sell a deal, CityPockets takes a commission. If you want to buy a deal, for services with APIs (like Groupon and Living Social), CityPockets will verify that the voucher is both unexpired and unused.
The deal exchange is in the mobile app, too.
Finally, it's becoming a deal search and recommendation engine. In addition to letting you search or filter the exchange for deals other users are trying to dump, it'll also, soon, tell you about deals you can buy directly from one of the many deal sites there are. To bolster this feature, the company recently acquired DealBurner, which will send you a message about deals near you when you check in to a location on Foursquare or Facebook.
The company is also working on doing more with "instant" deals, watching for deals you might like that are on short fuses.
This whole space is immature, just like. Also, competitors in this space are leveraging the fact that consumers are dealing with Groupon clone overload. Once this business starts to consolidate, which it must, the deal wallet companies will have to slow down, grow up, and find ways to scale. Right now they're still stabilizing feature sets.