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A radar for offers

Stores can offer special promotions to nearby customers thanks to geolocation

  • Key4Communications

This is how Facebook Deals will look like

Users rceive offers and promotions directly through their mobile phones

New technologies offer new ways of communicating with customers. One of them is the use of geolocation tools, mostly thanks to mobile phones. A good number of stores are now starting to take advantage of these services.
Any more or less new mobile phone is more than likely to come with GPS, which helps us to know where we are, of course, but also to inform the world about our situation. This is being used wisely by many businesses, which make public its location in applications such as Facebook Places or Foursquare. This enhances three types of actions:
        -Stores can advise clients where to find them.

        -Interaction with clients: stores can send promotions, offers, and news.

        -Retailers can also allow customers to interact with each other: entering comments about excellent treatment or the wide range of products offered at an establishment –but also the opposite, of course.

One of the most popular geolocation applications is Foursquare, with ten million users (in May; six million in January). Daily, there are three million "check-in", i.e., users informing about their location.

The company offers solutions for retailers. Mostly, promotions. When somebody is using Foursquare near a store, the owner may send information about offers or discounts through the application. For example, a price cut for simply “checking in”, or even an offer depending on the number of times the client has entered the store.

One of the advantages of Foursquare is that it can be integrated with other social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Because Foursquare can be (relatively) minor, but now everyone (or almost) is on Facebook.

Facebook Places
The most popular social network also has a geolocation application: Facebook Places. And besides, 500 million users. This service is complemented by Facebook Deals, which like Foursquare can offer rewards to customers entering a registered store.

In addition, the client may post this action in his Facebook wall for his friends to read and comment. According to the company, 500 people could see each entry in a store.

Companies like Starbucks, McDonalds and also some malls are already members of Facebook Deals, born in November but currently only being tested in five US cities: San Francisco, San Diego, Austin, Atlanta and Dallas.

First tests have worked more than OK: the clothing retailer Gap offered a free pair of jeans to the first 10,000 people to register their entry into one of their stores via Facebook Places. The response was so fast that they ran out of jeans and had to offer 40% discounts coupons. What is remarkable about this promotion is that it was only announced through Facebook Places.

Another similar and quite successful application (currently available in around 80 US cities) is Shopkick, which has reached an agreement with the 1,300 Best Buy stores in Mexico, Canada and the United States. It also has signed agreements with Macy's and brands such as Unilever, Kraft Foods, Procter & Gamble, Intel, and HP.

Born in 2010, this mobile application works similarly to Facebook and Foursquare Places, but is geared directly to stores, rather than to social networks. The user enters the high street partners and starts receiving offers and promotions from retailers and brands, as well as "kicks" -redeemable points.

Google Places
Google geolocation system is not (yet) so oriented to offers and promotions. But it has one advantage: Google Maps comes installed in a high percentage of new mobile phones.

The system is very simple: the potential client uses Google Maps in his phone to look for toyshops, for example. On the map where he is consulting his position, he will also see stores nearby, if they are registered in Google Places.

Each storeowner can enter his shop information, a description, and photos. Customers can add ratings and comments. This information is also available if we use a computer, with the difference that the browser will use our IP to find us and direct us, for example, to “toy stores near Barcelona."

And vice versa?

This brings us to another possibility of geolocation, related to the loss of customer anonymity that Internet offers. When a customer registers at an online store, he leaves a name and also a record of purchases made, commentaries and searches. Also, his IP identifies the city or region from which he comes -if he is not using navigation systems to conceal this information, of course. This gives shop owners information not only about habits and preferences, but also about the area where the customer lives, which in turn can be used to make special offers, for example, if he visits the physical store in that city.

Geolocation is therefore a tool that can be very useful for retailers. And probably now is the time to jump in, as it is starting to boost. Eventually, a Facebook Places or Foursquare user will not be able to take a walk without receiving dozens of offers and promotions, and he will probably prefer simply to close the application.

Also, to register and download apps is free, but just for now.


geolocation, retail, stores, shops, promotions, foursquare, google places, facebook places, shopkick

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