By David Dorf on Jul 28, 2010
Location-based social networks are the latest fad to hit mobile phones. Foursquare seems to be getting most of the attention even though MyTown, Brightkite, and Loopt actually have more users. The concept has mobile phone users using GPS to "checkin" to establishments, including restaurants and retail stores. Checkins are rewarded differently by each system, but some benefits include getting location information (maps, hours, description), reviews, find nearby friends, or receive coupons. There's also the game angle for those that like to collect points, unlock rewards, and gain status.Retailers would like to know when someone shows up at a store. Its a good time to entice them with an offer, or better yet attract them from a nearby competitor. CardStar, the mobile application that consolidates all your loyalty cards, is now automatically performing a checkin via Foursquare when you use your loyalty card. That marriage makes perfect sense.
Now SCVNGR is taking checkins to the next level. Retailers create challenges for users to perform in exchange for rewards. For example, a retailer may provide a coupon to anyone that checks into 2 different store locations in the same day. Users can earn points for checkins, comments, and photos they take of the store. Then when a certain point threshold is reached, they get a reward.
The flexibility of the program allows retailers to tailor the program to influence behavior better than just a simple checkin. Starting tomorrow, SCVNGR users can earn a $10 coupon at Journeys 800+ stores by winning challenges and earning points. These activities are meant to engage customers and have them get to know the shoe store.
Seems to me that supercharged checkins make a nice addition to loyalty programs.