I have been playing with FourSquare for about four weeks now as many of my friends have probably seen the check-ins on Facebook and Twitter. I have even gone to the extent to checking out the API behind the scenes and it looks very clean and easy. The basis of the API is REST (REpresentational State Transfer). So integrating other commerce based products, tools, and sites should be a snap.
Not many people in my area are using FourSquare but on a positive note there seem to be more and more people using it even in the past month. I am already a mayor in two places; not sure what that buys me but it felt good.
I used FourSquare to check into a store called Justified; my wife and I were shopping for a birthday present. There were signs all over the store for 40% off. When I checked into FourSquare I received a coupon code “500” and received an additional 40% off! I was thinking, there is no way its 40% off then another 40% off, but that is exactly how it rang up at the register after presenting the coupon from my iPhone. We saved tons of money that day. So much in fact, we got the girl double the amount of gifts because we felt bad it was so inexpensive – she really made out…
Now, on to my point. I really like the concept of check-ins using an application like this. It allows me to use the application to find many kinds of places and see what those places have for specials. For instance, I might be at a Best Buy with a Staples next door, I see on FourSquare that Staples has a coupon or a special by seeing the special indicator in the “Stores nearby”. This immediately lets me know what stores in my physical area have specials and which stores do not. In my mind, this is a huge benefit over stores with specific applications on my iPhone. Stores with their own applications make me go into their application, check-in, and look for specials – once again, very different than seeing a list of stores with specials. So it makes me ask, why go through the trouble of having a native iPhone(mobile) application when services like “check-in” and “coupons” are available on products like GoWalla, FourSquare, Facebook, etc? With HTML 5 you could get a lot accomplished on these devices without having a special native application for your store. Leave check-ins to applications that offer a community, badges, rewards, and a social aspect to the check-in action.