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Right place at the right time

GPS tracking opens up a world of possibilities for retailers, as proved by social networking site Foursquare

The basic concept of Foursquare is for users to “check in” online to the locations they are already currently present in reality. They can then earn points each time they check into different locations and earn certain positions of responsibility in those locations if they have checked into a certain store or location more than any other Foursquare user. For example, they could become the “mayor” of a store.

If the site is accessed via a mobile device - which, more often than not, it will need to be - it uses GPS tracking to suggest other venues that users have checked into in that area. But how can a site that is focused on a game element be turned into a business opportunity?

Firstly, Foursquare enables businesses to find out more about their customer. They can see who is checking into their store and how often. The site also allows users to leave comments about venues, allowing retailers to see what customers are writing about their product or store. Foursquare opens up opportunities to find a new audience as users visit and recommend the business.

Retailers can also use the site to reward loyalty via the “geotag” specials, whereby businesses can offer discounts or rewards to users who are signed up via a mobile device and who are in the relevant area. For example, users would receive a geotag to their phones saying that a certain retailer was offering 20% off a purchase within the next hour.

Finlay Clark, senior strategist, retail, at digital marketing specialist Big Mouth Media, says: “Foursquare sits in the centre of four key trends: mobile, social [networking], gaming and location [networking]. Brands can intercept and interact based on their consumer’s location, and provide offers or deals to suit.”

It’s easy to see how Foursquare could quickly catch on, as it allows retailers to understand and influence customer behaviour and reward loyalty in a fun and interactive way.

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