I have been working hard last two years to put the pieces together in the space of deal/ product promotion. I always wanted to empower the retailers to have a direct relationship with consumers without any mediators such as GroupOn, Snap Deals or deal agents.
Considering the same, I aligned myself with a mobile start-up and helped them design a mobile application which was all-in-one; i.e. retailers could upload deals and photo of products, target consumer based on geographic location, offer mobile bar code coupon and have control on deal quantity and period.
But the biggest challenge was to gather the deals and make people download a mobile app for deals. Also, though the business model had all the good features, the same could not make much headway. Facebook with Facebook Offers did the same thing in much better way than we thought.
Facebook quietly introduced last week Facebook Offers – an all-time best media innovation which will change the retail landscape forever. Facebook Offers was introduced without much fan fare but is a media innovation which is making GroupOn feel nervous and today, Snap Deal is thanking God that they timely decided to divert business from deals to e-commerce.
With Facebook Offers, finally Facebook empowers every retailer (both online and offline) to control the ‘deals’ and product ‘promotions’ on their own, without paying to deal aggregators. Now they can control inventory available with them in the manner that suits their business.
Biggest flaw of GroupOn, Snap Deal or any other popular deal aggregators system was that retailers were never in control of their inventory and most of the time, were forced to sell/ book the inventory on discounted rate in peak hours or when their shops were full with customers. No wonder the deal market could not grow beyond spa, hair salon and restaurants deals.
So far many products/companies have had thousands and millions of ‘Likes’ on their Facebook page. But they did not know how to take mileage from the consumers who were connected with them. Honestly, Facebook pages had more ‘Likes’ because of the consumer’s affection for the brands rather than the brand’s ability to talk to consumers or capitalise in terms of driving trials or sales of the products.
With Facebook Offers, now not only brands but retailers too can make special offers to the fans who ‘Like’ their Facebook page. A retailer can now take a picture of one particular product on his retail shelf (of which inventory need liquidation) and float a special offer on the same to fans.
This simple media innovation of Facebook not only will make more and more consumers walk in stores but will also help brands drive trials of new product and sale. But the real icing on the cake is in terms of influencing consumers who are yet not connected with the brand/ retail store. The moment a consumer avails a Facebook Offer, all his friends will get a post on their timeline, which will persuade them to do the same.
The fantastic media innovation will remain unchallenged for a long time in the future.
The author is Business Director – Indian Sub Continent, Buchanan Group India