In an earlier article, I gave Mark Zuckerberg one pathway to monetizing their mobile app through Social Shopping. Today, I am offering a second pathway; Facebook Mobile Offers. Here's how I see it working:
You are out shopping when you look down at your phone and see that you've received a Facebook Mobile Offer to a nearby store that you love, and the offer is for the exact item that you've been researching online. You've been wanting to buy it but just couldn't justify it, but now that you're getting a great deal on it, you walk into the store and redeem the offer. The retailer sells the item to you and Facebook gets a cut of the deal for performing the service of driving you into the store at the right time with the right offer.
So how does technology make it work? Facebook already tracks your online behavior so they know what you want, and by using location services enabled on your phone or an agreement with your wireless carrier, Facebook knows where you are. So they know what you like (based on your Facebook "likes"), they know what product you obsess over (based on tracking your browsing), and they know when you are in proximity to them (based on location services). In this situation, the price of the item seems to be the only barrier to purchase and it seems like Facebook is in a great position to take advantage of the Retail Perfect Storm, when you are near a product you want and you get a deal to good to pass up. And hey, while you're there, you may even do a little more shopping now that you saved so much money with your great deal.
All of the technology to perform this type of service is already available to firms that own or sell brands. The difficulty for retailers and brands is creating enough engagement to get their hands on enough data to be able to make real-time offers that are valuable to their potential customers. Facebook is in a unique position to provide this infrastructure of engagement and data; to analyze your "likes", online browsing behavior, network of friends and physical location, all to deliver you real-time offers that will drive purchase behavior.
My question is why haven't they already done this? As I said in my previous article on Social Shopping; before Facebook went public, they could afford to be just a social network, too cool to be caught up in being about selling things. Now that Facebook is public, it’s time to focus on its new mandate; maximize shareholder equity.