Target, Facebook / Cartwheel
Target and Facebook partner on social discount platform
Facebook has made one its strongest moves into the pure retail space, partnering US store Target with a social, mobile and in-store coupon scheme
Through the Cartwheel by Target site, Facebook users will be able to log in to view and search for hundreds of discounted products. They can also add offers to their 'Cartwheel', which allows them to share deals they find on Facebook. When users select deals, it generates a QR code, which they scan at checkout either through a print out or directly through their smartphone. The purchased deals are promoted onto the buyer's news feed, unless updates are switched off by the user within privacy settings. Friends can then click the feed ad to get hold of the same deals.
In store, these online coupons will be promoted at the shelf, with the unique discount code generated for smartphone-equipped shoppers.
Cartwheel offers are grouped into verticals, with users of the scheme's beta roll-out (US-only) able to select up to ten deals. If multiple purchases are made, the news feed posts will group all purchases into one ad, rather than a series.
Target, which has worked with Facebook before by offering discounts linked to the network's Credit currency and Places geo-location function, has installed a 35-40 strong digital team to curate Cartwheel.
Frequent Cartwheel shoppers and those who refer deals will be rewarded with further discounts. The initiative currently covers around 700 products.
This partnership with Target shows how Facebook is trying to prove its direct relevance to retail, positioning itself as a way to drive bricks-and-mortar sales.
The attraction here is clear for both parties, Facebook is essentially offering to bus customers in-store (leaving a huge trail of back-end digital data to boot) in return for sought after revenue streams. Target on the other hand can pinpoint relevant deals and draw money away from online with increased footfall.
However, there are concerns that a stream of ads for minor discounts on sweets and cleaning products will end up being more irritating than useful. With Cartwheel users controlling online visibility, their network of acquaintances could easily become disgruntled at yet another inane overshare. It is key that Facebook maintains a user-friendly balance in its ad features. Plus figures suggest that Facebook's online shopping referral dominance within social is slipping. Last year Business Insider reported that Facebook was was responsible for 88% of ecommerce referrals, this figure has now dropped to 59%.
Until Target and friends can work out a way to to tap the life-data posted daily by the 130 million American users, this new type of coupon may be a tad intrusive.
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