Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Facebook site of digital-marketing bid

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TARGET just friended Facebook, big time.

In its boldest foray into digital retailing, Target on Wednesday launched a test version of Cartwheel, an ambitious collaboration with the world's largest social network that will allow users to earn savings via Facebook and then use their smartphones to redeem those savings in stores.

Though retailers have used social networks such as Twitter and Pinterest to promote products and influence opinion, generating real sales has so far proven elusive. By using mobile devices to help drive people to its stores, Cartwheel might be the missing piece to this "multichannel" puzzle, Target officials say.

"For Target, this is an important step for us to test new technologies and learn from our guests as we continue to bridge the gap between digital and our stores," said Target spokesman Eric Hausman.

For Facebook, which has been trying to boost its mobile operations, the effort represents its most high-profile collaboration with a retailer to date as it tries to position itself as not just a place to share photos and status updates but also to conduct actual commerce.

"Target recognizes that shopping is an inherently social experience," Facebook said in an emailed statement. "It's been fantastic working with the company on the development of Cartwheel, and we're excited to see how Target customers use the product."

Here's how it works: Users log into Cartwheel.target.com with their Facebook accounts. They can start picking from a wide selection of deals, such as a five per cent discount on a 20-ounce Diet Coke or 10 per cent off Cherokee boys' cargo pants.

Once shoppers pick a deal, it appears on the Facebook newsfeed so other friends can see it. (Consumers can also adjust their privacy settings to block other users from seeing their information.)

"People like to talk about great deals," Hausman said. "They also like seeing what other people are doing."

Users can earn more discounts the more they shop or if they can successfully share their offers with other friends.

-- Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 9, 2013 B6

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