Emerging TechnologyMobileFacebook Places Driving Scant Foot Traffic to Mall Retailers

Facebook Places Driving Scant Foot Traffic to Mall Retailers

Gap, Betsey Johnson, and other stores in an upscale California mall have tested the early-days platform, providing a virtual Facebook Places incubator program.

It’s been two weeks since Lustre Pearls and Gems started offering a $200 coupon code for check-ins via Facebook Places at the Westfield Valley Fair mall in Santa Clara, CA. Purchasers must exceed $500 to redeem the offer. And while the campaign has until the end of the year, it’s still a little surprising just how sobering the action has been so far.

“No one yet,” Edilbert Signey, marketing director for the Lustre store, told ClickZ late Friday. “I haven’t had someone come in and mention [the coupon].”

Interestingly, the Westfield Valley Fair mall is probably the busiest marketing incubator program for Facebook Places going. A total of five campaigns have been launched there. Betsey Johnson was the first brand to try the still-new geo-social platform and one of the first nationally to test it. Last week, the store told ClickZ that its recent one-month deal – 15 percent off for people checking in – had only generated a trickle of foot traffic. It was chiefly promoted by the Westfield Valley Fair’s Facebook page, which has 22,000 “Likers.”

“The feedback wasn’t very strong, to be honest,” said Chrissie Dee, store manager at the Betsey Johnson. “But we did get a few people come in who used the promotion… I think it’s a great idea… It’s just a matter of people using it and getting the word out there.”

It shouldn’t shock anybody that Lustre and Betsey Johnson are not reporting major foot traffic. The Facebook Places app is only available on iPhones, while the platform as a whole is just two months old.

Like Lustre, retailers Franco Uomo and Tuttimelon are currently running campaigns from mid-October through Dec. 31 at their Westfield Valley Fair locations And the Gap ran a 25 percent off promotion on Oct. 4, 11, 18, and 25 for people checking in at the mall.

While those three brands were not available to comment for this story, Laura Vestal, marketing director for the Westfield Valley Fair, said she’s been gathering some positive anecdotal evidence from those retail partners. Her company works with FanAppz, which facilitates the ability for the mall stores to reward Places check-ins.

“I cannot give out any numbers,” Vestal said. “But…retailers have said that it is a really powerful way to get people into their stores.”

She later added, “It’s in its infancy. So it’s something out of the box and unique that we can offer local consumers. And [Facebook Places deals] are something we can offer [retail partners] that no other shopping center is doing. They understand that it is something we are currently building out.”

Vestal commented that Places campaigns will likely produce more foot traffic once Facebook debuts apps for Droid, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone 7. “Due to the sheer volume of people on Facebook,” she said, “I think once all of those other mobile devices are available, there will be a much larger adoption.”

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