Chicago-based Groupon Inc. said Thursday it laid off 80 sales employees this week, reflecting ongoing efforts to automate some sales functions.
"Groupon announced several months ago it would be using technology to increase productivity through automation," the company said in a brief statement. "This week we reduced the sales team by approximately 80 members as part of that effort. We will always aim to optimize business operations wherever opportunities are identified."
While the daily deals company did not disclose where the affected employees were based, most of its sales staff is in Chicago. Groupon employed 11,866 people as of the third quarter. Of this, 5,087 employees were in sales, meaning the cuts represent less than 2 percent of its sales force. Compared with the second quarter, however, Groupon's sales staff has shrunk. In the second quarter, the company employed 5,587 people in sales out of a total headcount of 12,820.
In a conference call to discuss third-quarter earnings results, Chief Executive Andrew Mason said the company has spent six to nine months looking at technology tools that can replace inefficient manual processes, particularly in sales functions. Groupon had rapidly added headcount to keep pace with its supercharged growth in its early years and is now turning to automation, Mason said. For example, an internal tool used to personalize deals for consumers can also be used to predict the value of different leads in Groupon's merchant database.
"We've seen just in the last several months the productivity of our sales force improve, increasing the number of deals that a single sales person can close because of the new tools that we've released," Mason said, adding: "Those sorts of things are allowing us to increase productivity and continue to scale without adding the same headcount as we have in the past."
Groupon's third-quarter earnings, reported after the market closed, missed Wall Street expectations and prompted a sharp decline in the company's stock in after-hours trading.
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