May 8, 2013, 4:37 PM

Target links Facebook with discounts

The retailer wants only to drive in-store sales. For now.

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Target Corp. today began testing Cartwheel, a discount service with a Facebook twist, in an attempt to drive shoppers into its stores.

Shoppers must have a Facebook account to access Cartwheel deals, which range from 5% to 25% off. The retailer presents the deals on Cartwheel.Target.com where it organizes the deals by topic. For instance, “Grill it up!” features discounts on mustard and barbecue sauce and “Birthday fun” has discounts for cupcakes and ice cream. At launch there are nearly 700 offers and a Target spokesman says that number will likely top 1,000.

Target will promote the discounts across its digital channels, including at Cartwheel.Target.com, Target.com, through its mobile site and apps, as well as on Facebook and via e-mails to its credit cardholders. It also plans to use Facebook ads to highlight the program, the spokesman says.

When a shopper first accesses Cartwheel she can add up to 10 deals from among the roughly 700 discounts currently available. After selecting the deals, Target presents her with bar codes for the discounts. She then has to print out the bar code or present the bar code on her mobile device when checking out in a Target store to redeem the discount. The deals are typically valid for a month and can be redeemed multiple times.

Shoppers’ interactions with most Cartwheel deals are shared with their Facebook connections unless a shopper opts out. The multichannel retailer doesn’t share shoppers’ interactions with products that feature a padlock icon; such products include feminine hygiene items and undergarments. Because of the social element, Cartwheel should help shoppers discover new products that their friends buy, the spokesman says.

Target, No. 18 in the new 2013 edition of the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, may give consumers the ability to redeem Cartwheel online in the future, the spokesman says. However, the retailer’s first priority is driving shoppers into its stores.

The Cartwheel test is Target’s latest attempt to fight back against consumers using its stores to research products, then buying them online if they can find a lower price. Earlier this year Target decided to take on that growing trend, often called showrooming, by pledging to match prices in its stores on qualifying items sold at Amazon.com Inc., BestBuy.com, Walmart.com and ToysRUs.com—including BabiesRUs.com—as well as items on Target.com.

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