Target Wants Facebookers To Do Cartwheels For Savings

What's Next In Payments®
4:09 PM EDT May 8th, 2013

Is the realization of a true Facebook eCommerce solution finally here?

That’s what many are asking as major U.S. retailer Target has announced its beta test of Cartwheel began on May 8. The social eCommerce service, which is now being advertised on the company’s website and in its email marketing, combines the popular social network with special promotions in an attempt to get consumers to realize savings by visiting Target’s brick-and-mortar outlets.

How does Cartwheel work?

Cartwheel allows shoppers to select deals online, but doesn’t stop there. After making their cart selections, users bring a barcode on their smartphone (or a printed barcode) to a Target location to finalize their purchases and redeem a 10 percent discount.

Step-by-step, the process is less straightforward. Business Insider documented some of the challenges it had with the service. It says Target customers need to first log on to Facebook, search for Cartwheel by Target (which is separate from its official Facebook page) and log in again to this separate service.

Some additional drawbacks include the fact that Cartwheel has a default setting that allows the app to post all of the purchases you’re browsing to your profile automatically, though the source says this can be turned off.

Why should you use Cartwheel?

According to Target, Cartwheel offers exclusive discounts of up to 30 percent off, meaning that there’s real savings to be had on certain items that may make a trip to the store worth it. Also, the company says these incentives can be used as many times as consumers want before they expire and that they can be paired with Target REDcard, the company’s branded credit and debit cards that offer additional savings.

Will this approach catch on?

So far, the initial industry reaction has been somewhat skeptical of Cartwheel. While some commentators, like Jim Edwards of Business Insider, lauded the attempt to use social engagement creatively, he ultimately said he felt the design of the promotion was “incredibly complicated.”

Likewise, Reuters’ report, while journalistic, didn’t sound promising. After introducing the concept, the author noted that customers could “only redeem the offers they choose in Target’s U.S. stores, not online.”

Cartwheel follows other high-profile initiatives by major retailers to integrate mobile into the shopping habits of customers. Both Wal-Mart and Sears have offered social commerce programs to consumers in recent months, which haven’t exactly been home runs.

Past data also foreshadows disappointment for the initiative, as social eCommerce has been plagued with low conversion rates, despite the fact that comparison shopping through both this platform and traditional web outlets remains popular.

So what do you think? Does Target’s foray into Facebook Commerce seem promising to you? Let me know in the comments below.

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