Social commerce spotlight: Does the Target / Facebook collaboration spell another fail for f-commerce?
In a bid to stave of overwhelming competition from the likes of Amazon and eBay, retailer Target is taking a punt at a social commerce venture which, they say, will “bridge the gap between digital and their stores.”
Cartwheel is an ambitious digital savings initiative between Target and Facebook, but its premise is simple enough. The program gives users personalized coupons to share with friends on the social network, and the scan in-store. When users claim an offer, Cartwheel generates posts to their newsfeeds. Predictably, the more coupons redeemed and the more friends invited, the more rewards on offer.
“Target recognizes that shopping is an inherently social experience,” Facebook said in a 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.”
Well, points for effort for Target, which at least recognizes the need to create a strong presence in the digital world. But surely Facebook should know better by now – f-commerce has struggled to find its feet ever since its inception and with the rise of other social shopping models (P-commerce, or ‘participatory commerce’, in particular taking flight), many reckon that Cartwheel, with its mish-mash of commerce ideas, will fall flat.
Indeed, the editors of CIO Journal have already said the initiative is certainly “not a game changer”, citing claims from Forrester Research Inc that the service is “overly complicated”. Indeed, elsewhere around the web reports are trickling in that Cartwheel’s sharing function requires “a PhD from MIT” to turn off. Which means users’ entire Facebook networks will be able to see just how much booze they bought at the weekend, or how many packets of cookies they consider acceptable for a night in front of the TV. Is any coupon worth that kind of shame?
Of course, it’s still too early to call it. But certainly precedent suggests there won’t be any handstands for Cartwheel.