Facebook launches a service that enables merchants to offer deals via Facebook Places.
Zak Stambor , Managing Editor
Aiming squarely at Foursquare, Facebook today launched Facebook Deals, a new feature within Facebook’s iPhone app that enables businesses to offer deals to consumers who check in through the Facebook Places service that the social network launched two months ago.
For example, starting tomorrow, shoppers will be able to check in to Facebook Places from any Macy’s Inc. store and get 20% discounts off most apparel, accessories and jewelry and some houseware items, and 10% off consumer electronics, furniture and mattresses. Macy’s is No. 20 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.
"With a reach that is 500 million users strong, the power and influence of Facebook today is undeniable," says Martine Reardon, Macy's executive vice president of marketing and advertising. "As we continue to aggressively pursue opportunities to reinforce Macy's leadership position within the dynamic social media and location-based movements, the chance to be a part of this launch with Facebook is an obvious win. Not only is it a new way for customers to engage with our brand, but we can thank them for doing so immediately with a special offer they can use while still in our store."
Facebook Places, the social network’s geolocation service, enables the 150 million mobile Facebook users to broadcast their locations through their Facebook status windows via a smartphone’s integrated GPS technology to friends as well as other Places users nearby.
The social network behemoth says it is opening up its location API so that developers can send check-ins to Facebook Places from third-party applications. In doing so, the social network seeks to entice merchants to weave Facebook’s location services into their mobile apps. This is the same type of approach it used to encourage more than 2 million web sites to add the Facebook Like button to their sites.
At launch there are four types of Facebook offers:
• Individual Deals that offer discounts, free products, or other rewards.
• Friend Deals that requires a consumer to check in with a friend to claim a reward.
• Loyalty Deals for consumers who regularly check in via Places.
• Charity Deals that allow a consumer to donate to a particular cause.
Users can find deals by looking for a yellow icon when they check in using Places. When the user clicks on the deal, he can view the offer and claim it by showing his phone to the cashier. Facebook will then broadcast that the user claimed the deal on the user’s News Feed, which allows his friends to see the offer as well.
Among the merchants offering deals immediately are the Gap, No. 23 in the Top 500 Guide, which is giving blue jeans to the first 10,000 customers who claim their deal; American Eagle Outfitters, No. 51, which is offering 20% off; and REI, No. 62, which is donating $1 to a local conservation non-profit when a consumer visits a store.
“We launched Places to let you share where you are with your friends and see who's nearby,” wrote Jon Fougner, a principal on Facebook's product marketing team, on the social network’s blog. “Now with Deals, you also can see what offers are nearby and share those deals with your friends.”
The program initially is only available in the United States, but Facebook says it plans to expand over time.