The following post was originally posted on itbusiness.ca last week.
By now you’ve probably heard that Foursquare had initiated a retail program that allows users to check in to locations and save money with their Visa or MasterCard. In fact, it’s been almost two years since Foursquare created this initiative with American Express.
The most recent announcement is quite interesting as Forbes opined at the beginning of the year that Foursquare was doomed for failure in 2013. Which leads me to ask this question: Will this latest initiative with Visa and MasterCard help Foursquare become relevant, profitable and an important ally of retailers?
Time will tell but I think it is not too early to say yes.
- Immediate ROI. Retailers (and all businesses for that matter) have been concerned about the value of social media ever since it was determined that one could actually measure social media. Participating retailers will find ROI from this program just by plugging in. However, they will still need to actively engage and communicate with their community and potential audience members. Now that this opportunity has been handed to them how innovative will retailers become to attract people via social media in general and Foursquare specifically? And what active role will Foursquare play in this? Will we see sales offices open up similar to their social media cousins such as Facebook and LinkedIn?
- Huge big data opportunity. Big Data is going to continue to be huge in 2013 and this is just one example of why. Foursquare and the credit card companies are the biggest winners here. For years, credit card companies have been harvesting data on the purchasing habits of customers. Foursquare has been compiling data (although not as rich) for a few years now. This marriage of sorts will – for the first time – now combine consumer behaviour and social media. In fact, I believe that American Express’ recent partnership with retailers and Twitter is a direct result of lessons learned (and data obtained) from their Foursquare initiative of two years ago. Look for Visa, MasterCard and American Express to use this data to offer special services, insights and even products to their corporate and consumer clients in the very near future. Also look for Foursquare to continue working with retailers and credit cards companies to be their social media partner.
- The importance of the check-in. Many retailers still rely heavily on their store fronts for the majority of their revenues. This partnership with Foursquare shows the importance that bricks and mortar still plays in today’s digital economy. However, I believe that Foursquare will now start to develop a GetGlue-type solution by offering consumers the ability to virtually check in. Why? in 2010, e-commerce accounted for $15.3 billion in sales in Canada. And it’s growing.
For Canada the question is when will we see this initiative north of the 49th? Don’t hold your breath. The Amex initiative is still not available in Canada after two years. So the chances of Foursquare opening up this program anytime soon in Canada is unlikely.