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Target explores ways to lure Facebook users into retail stores

Posting in Technology

Can social media be used to lure customers into physical stores rather than buying products online?

Retail store Target would like to find out. The firm has announced that it is rolling out Cartwheel, a service that combines social networking and discounts to try and keep U.S. shoppers from simply ordering online and entice them to enter a traditional brick-and-mortar establishment.

Target said that the program relies on shoppers using Facebook accounts. Shoppers can select a deal they want and record the barcode -- offered over Facebook -- for use. However, these discounts can only be used in-store.

Due to the explosion in mobile device use and the gradual change of commerce from local, traditional outlets to a global market offered by the Internet, retailers worldwide are feeling the pinch as shoppers turn to online-only options, including Amazon, to get the best deal. Although Internet-based services can result in fewer overheads for a business, many stores are still struggling to keep their physical premises alive.

Retailers are taking different approaches to try and integrate price-comparison and quick shopping methods online with the physical. Walmart, for example, lets some of its U.S. store shoppers scan their items with a phone app to allow quicker processing through self-checkout lanes. Others offer free Wi-Fi, and Best Buy is currently experimenting with a store employee summoning system based on a customer clicking a shop iPad for assistance.

Starting on May 8, Target is opening Cartwheel to the public in beta. Although the project is aimed at increasing shoppers in-store, if it proves a failure, the firm has not ruled out allowing discounts to be used online.

Read More: Yahoo

Image credit: Flickr

— By on May 7, 2013, 8:17 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure