October 11, 2011, 2:28 PM

Wal-Mart takes its Facebook strategy local

The world’s largest retailer launches the My Local Walmart Facebook application.

Lead Photo

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. today launched a Facebook application designed to connect consumers with their nearest Wal-Mart stores. The My Walmart application aims to deliver shoppers distinct store-specific information, such as in-store events and promotions, as well as region-specific products for its more than 3,500 stores.

“We wanted to take our focus from the national to the local level so that a consumer in Florida sees an offer for sunscreen while someone in the North sees an offer for snowshoes,” says a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, No. 6 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

Wal-Mart, which worked with an undisclosed vendor to build the application, says consumers were asking for a more localized Facebook experience. “We’ve been looking at posts and feedback from our customers saying that location information was one of the main things they were seeking on Facebook,” the spokeswoman says.  

To access the application, consumers visiting Wal-Mart’s Facebook page have to click on the My Local Walmart tab. After they input their ZIP code, Like their favorite stores and click the I’m Ready button, the application presents them with local information, which it also broadcasts to their news feeds about twice a week.

Consumers can click to share products and other information with their friends via the application—even though sharing through My Walmart is not the same form of “frictionless sharing” that other retailers, such as Netflix Inc., are using on Facebook. Frictionless sharing broadcasts the connections that users make between themselves and a variety of objects, web sites and activities.

The application also features downloadable maps of a consumer’s store that the spokeswoman says will be particularly useful on the day after Thanksgiving, which is often referred to as Black Friday. “Shoppers will be able to have their circular in their hand and print out a map so they can plan exactly where they’ll run to when the doors open,” she says.

Wal-Mart’s local focus on the social network comes less than month after it acquired OneRiot, a company that analyzes social media data so that marketers can deliver more personalized ads.

Wal-Mart, which has more than 9.4 million fans on the Facebook, says it aims to add localized interactions in time. That would enable a consumer to ask a question about her specific store and receive a response from an associate who works there. “We want to get to that point, but we’re beginning with the application,” the spokeswoman says. “So much more can be done in the future and that type of interaction is where we want to get.”

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