Despite some initial skepticism, Foursquare is indeed providing valuable data to the restaurants, retailers, and other merchants who partner with it — and, even more importantly, it’s bringing in business.
On the data side, the site’s recently-launched analytics dashboard lets businesses see how many people “check in” at their locations, not to mention the exact times, the gender breakdowns, and whether or not these customers broadcast their check-ins over Facebook or Twitter.
And on the retail side, MIT’s Technology Review points out that RadioShack’s Foursquare initiative was extremely successful for the retailer. In an attempt to drive in-store sales, the electronics chain offered several Foursquare specials, picking up some handy data along the way:
- After initially offering a 10% discount to Foursquare users who checked in at any of their stores (and 20% to mayors), RadioShack learned that Foursquare users spent about 3.5 times as much as non-users per transaction.
- Among the purchases made by Foursquare users, many were buying wireless devices and their paraphernalia.
- A later promotion targeting new customers offered 20% off to first-time Foursquare RadioShack check-ins. This promotion was used in 50 to 60% of all purchases made by Foursquare users — a substantial success.
Meanwhile, companies aren’t limited to using Foursquare specials to encourage shopping and track purchases. Applebee’s has employed the service to get customers in the door, by offering a post-9 PM Foursquare special (free mozzarella sticks!) in order to beef up its late-night crowd. The offer was only valid if there were at least 5 total check-ins after 9 PM. (Though data was not provided, this must have encouraged more people to check in, to ensure that everyone got free cheese.)
So where does Foursquare go from here? The next phase will be how the company factors into their broader data collection. RadioShack is already planning to combine the data they mine through Foursquare with their Facebook Places, Google Places, and Twitter data. If other companies employ a similar strategy to useful ends, we could see how offering Foursquare specials as a means of data collection, beyond mere consumer encouragement, could become the status quo.