Facebook launches Deals in Ireland – m-commerce goes social

30 Mar 2011

Social networking giant Facebook has launched Deals in Ireland. The location-based technology enables smartphone users to redeem discounts on products and services in shops, restaurants, car dealerships and more.

At Facebook’s European headquarters in Dublin where Facebook employs 200 people, the company revealed it is beta-testing the technology among Irish consumers and is already working with major brand names like Insomnia, A-Wear, Milano, SuperValu, Champion Sports, the Guinness Storehouse, Meteor and Axa.

From today onwards, Facebook users with smartphones who check in via Facebook Places will see a list of places and those that have a little yellow ticket icon beside them will have discounts, such as free pizzas, 50pc off coffees, free items for a certain number of customers, etc.

Rick Kelley (pictured), head of mid-market sales, EMEA, explained that out of Facebook’s 500m users worldwide, some 200m access the social network on their mobile devices.

He said Facebook is working with key brands in the interim to trial the service with Irish consumers. For example, tomorrow or Friday, users can check in and get 50pc off hot drinks or get a free pizza at Milano. Champion Sports will give away professional footballs to the first 500 people to check in at its stores while the first 500 people to check in at the Guinness Storehouse will be offered a free personalised bottle of Guinness Extra Stout.

As well as boosting footfall for bricks and mortar retailers, each time a user checks in and obtains an offer the news gets broadcast into the user’s social stream so their friends will be made aware of the deal and thus a brand’s image is enhanced.

Following the trial, the intention is to open it up eventually to a self-service model for retailers to log onto Facebook and set up their own offerings.

At present, the self-service model is available in North America. Emily White, head of local at Facebook, explained the plan is to tweak the self-service offering before making it available internationally.

Kelley explained there will be four different types of deals available for businesses who wish to offer discounts to users:

  • Charity Deals – where users check in and by doing so make a donation to a specified charity. For example, Axa will donate €2 to the Irish Hospice Foundation Children’s Homecare Programme for customers who check in at any Axa branch nationwide.
  • Individual Deals – where users get a reward, such as 50pc of the price of goods, for checking in. A-wear, for example, is offering 20pc off to the first 500 people who check in at their store
  • Loyalty Deals – making it possible for users to collect points for repeat visits to a premises
  • Friends Deals – encouraging people to bring friends to a premises by making deals available if users tag five friends

Brand engagement via Facebook Deals

Kelley said the kind of brand engagement businesses are getting out of using Facebook is beginning to trump that of a traditional web presence. For example, Starbucks has 20m fans on its Facebook page compared with 1.8m visitors to its website. Coca-Cola has 23m Facebook fans versus the 270,000 visitors to its website.

White said that in the US, when Deals was launched, some 10,000 free pairs of jeans were given away by Gap and in the UK, Mazda sold 100 cars because of check-in deals.

When asked if Facebook is willing to work with third-party developers to create additional location-based products by opening up the API, she said: “We would like to go in that direction.”

Kelley said that in terms of how retailers integrate Deals many would accept the yellow ticket on smartphones at face value but some are availing of the opportunity of loading bar codes into the ticket for better integration with their POS systems.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years