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Foursquare Releases a Business App

Foursquare Releases a Business App
By Barry Levine

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Foursquare's pitch for its new Foursquare for Business app is that active small-business managers do not have time to keep returning to their keyboards from the store floor in order to perform such functions as adding specials. The Foursquare app allows them to control specials from wherever they may be -- such as out getting lunch.
 



Customers and brick-and-mortar businesses have been using Foursquare to connect to each other. On Tuesday, the company released a Foursquare for Business app so that, in addition to managing that relationship from their computers, business managers can now do so from their smartphones.

The companion app allows managers to create an update, cross-post it to Facebook and Twitter, see recent check-ins, check for regular customers, enable specials, share photos of the establishment and check out data. The free app is available for iPhone and for Android devices. The company has an estimated 1 million businesses using Foursquare, and more than 30 million consumers.

The company's pitch for the new app is that highly active business owners do not have time to keep returning to their keyboards from the store floor, in order to perform such functions as adding specials. Whether or not that is the case for most small-business owners, the app does allow them to control specials from wherever they may be -- such as out getting lunch.

Focus on Business

The app extends increased options that Foursquare has been rolling out to merchants. In July of last year, for instance, Foursquare revamped Dashboard tools for small business owners to include "local updates" so that businesses could contact customers directly.

These updates allowed stores or restaurants to offer special deals to their regulars, the first time that Foursquare-enabled businesses could directly interact with steady customers. The updates included algorithms to determine and categorize the best customers, using such factors as check-in frequency, current location, and how recently the last check-in occurred.

Those new options were part of the company's general shift toward serving as a means of discovery for users, with a focus on businesses, instead of the games-and-badges orientation for check-ins that it used originally to build its user base.

Privacy Policy

About a month ago, Foursquare revised its privacy policy so that businesses could get more information about visitors who check in to their stores or restaurants. For instance, the previous policy allowed businesses to see information about visitors within the previous three hours.

Now, that window for visitor information has been increased in favor of businesses, although Foursquare has not revealed specifics. The new rules also specify that the full name associated with an account will be displayed, instead of occasionally showing only a first name and last initial. Foursquare has advised that users who are uncomfortable with this new policy can change the name on their account.

As it attempts to monetize its platform, Foursquare is also undertaking partnerships, such as with American Express. These steps are being taken to solidify its business as competition for location-based discovery and loyalty programs sprout from Google, Yelp and various start-ups.

A U.K.-based start-up named Spraffl, for instance, is attempting to jump-start an anonymous version of Foursquare, where users post comments without identifiers to others who are physically nearby. That vision of location-based interaction, Spraffl said, means that there are "no people to follow, no check-ins required, no badges, no points, no history."
 

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