Ever since the Groupon model landed on the digital landscape and captured the imagination of so many consumers so quickly, everyone seems to want a piece of their marketshare. And that includes Facebook. Rumored reports from watchdog blog All Facebook says that local shopping deals are being tested.The FB wrinkle however differs from Groupon and others in the space, by enabling businesses to provide deals whenever visitors actually check-in to a physical brick 'n mortar store.
The report further states that the specific deals will incent Facebook users to provide the stores with tip-offs regarding store visitors. The proposed promo offering would give Facebook users free items when they tag three of their friends "as present" at the retailers's location. Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb notes that "considering how much profile and social data (Facebook has), a Facebook Places check-in can carry as a payload , this sounds a whole lot more valuable to retailers than a Groupon deal."
Incentives are the key. As Nick O'Neill notes in his All Facebook report, "One of the major criticism of many of the existing check-in services (Foursquare, Gowalla and initially Facebook Places) is the lack of incentives for checking in to various locations."
The promotion does have some inherent challenges, however, and something that might be revised with time. But as it is presently outlined, the program requires "group shopping" of 3 or more people. While I'm sure there are a lot of females who shop in packs, men are less likely to shop with their friends. Secondly, there doesn't seem to be any cross-check in place that would stop devious users from tagging friends who aren't really present in the store.
Foursquare analyticsWhile retailers like the Foursquare analytics package they provide, Foursquare lacks Facebook's detail profile data on users. And with Facebook's 500+ million strong, Facebook can provide retailers with more traffic than Foursquare's 10 million or so.
While Groupon has just released its self-serve feature and JungleCents has entered the space with store discounts versus Groupon's coupon model, things are heating up in the space, where the clear winner is the consumer. So much so, that it's not a leap of logic to imagine one consumer armed with Groupon, Foursquare, Facebook Places and other offerings being able to score several deals and incentives by using these combined services when shopping online and then again at the physical venues.
Whether or not Facebook's local shopping deal model is legit is still up for conjecture. In O'Neill's report, he does hedge his bets, by indicating that he has not received any response from Facebook after requesting a verification by email. And a Facebook spokesperson replied to ReadWriteWeb's request for more information, stating only: "As a matter of policy, we don't comment on speculation. We have nothing to share." Presently for those that are interested in how this roll-out might unfold, I'd advise you watch the daily updates on their Facebook Places page.
Whether the leak was released as a trial balloon by Facebook is certainly plausible. They could certainly gain insight from the blogosphere and subsequent user-generated comments whether or not they are on the right track or need to refine their campaign before going public. What do you think reader? Is Facebook onto something? And is what is proposed, enough of a new wrinkle to sway consumers their way?
For additional posts pertaining to the crowded shopping deals space, check out the following