FourSquare, Starbucks start location-based discounts
Foursquare is a location-based service which announces to other users, and your friends on Facebook and Twitter, where you are when you "check in" to a specific place. This can be work, a local club or in this case Starbucks. When you check into certain locations often enough, or with enough people, you earn badges which you can show off. Check in often enough and you can become the mayor of a specific location, until someone else checks in more times and knocks you off.
Up until now, this didn't mean much, but with the partnership announced on Monday Starbucks will be giving FourSquare mayors $1 off of a frappuccino. If you "check in" often enough to become the mayor of your neighborhood Starbucks you'll receive a notification on your next visit that you can show to the barista to unlock your savings. The deal runs through June 28.
If you don't have a FourSquare account and want to sign up it only takes a minute and you can check in to Starbucks and other locations from most smartphones, including the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Palm devices. If you don't have a smartphone you can also check in using the FourSquare mobile website or sending a text message with your current location.
After you sign up you can begin unlocking specials at other locations and receiving tips from other users about the best thing to order at a specific restaurant or the best seats at a local theater.
It will be exciting to see how other retailers make use of location-based services like FourSquare. Gowalla, a competing location sharing service, recently used its version of check-ins to give away New Jersey Nets tickets and Facebook is said to be rolling out location based check ins and is partnering with McDonald's to offer users some kind of value.
While it is important to be aware of the implications of sharing your current location with your social circle, and possibly the rest of the Internet; I expect consumers to become more willing to share their location if there is something in it for them -- like a discount.
If FourSquare and others can continue to deliver discounts, shoppers will soon be trading their location for discounts the same way they already trade e-mail addresses for coupons.