Thursday, January 24, 2013

FourSquared: gamifying the check-out

What if customers could only check-in on Foursquare (or Facebook) after they check-out and pay for products? How could businesses benefit from this more restricted social network interaction? And what would customers stand to gain from this major overhaul of these social networks?

The idea behind check-in apps and social networks is gamification. Gamification is the use of game mechanics in non-game contexts in order to engage users. On Foursquare, your earn points with each check-in and as you earn points you move up the leaderboard. But there are many other reasons to "check-in":
  • To brag about your whereabouts
  • To share tips on what to eat, buy, or do
  • To find friends nearby
  • To find deals
  • And to win a mayorship, badge, or some other recognition 
The latter -- the friendly competition -- is at the core of gamification. And this gamified experience is still a  major draw to Foursquare over Facebook's check-in features. But this competitive spirit can be quickly spoiled by the employees of a store or restaurant. It's because of this that employees should not be allowed to check-in at their stores & restaurants. This social network interaction should be reserved for customers. Otherwise, there's no point.

Mayorships and gamification can be a powerful promotional force leading to more customers and higher sales. But not if you allow your employees to check-in, because a customer will never be able steal that mayorship from an employee. They're simply not on-location as much.

Now, what if customers could only check-in at checkout? What if Foursquare partnered with Square to become FourSquared? Or Facebook furthered its partnership with Apple to realize an NFC iPhone's full potential? Now you not only have to be in the store but you have to buy something to be able to check-in! Imagine all the benefits for customers and businesses.

Here are 7 advantages of gamifying the check-out processes with check-in apps:
  • Improved customer loyalty programs with 1-click signups and no need for physical cards
  • A value-add for customers to visit brick-and-mortar stores instead of shopping online
  • Social network integration delivering peer reviews to customers based off product ownership
  • Social network integration delivering more fans/followers of business pages
  • One-click, self-checkout payment options for customers without employee interaction or checkout lines
  • Paperless receipt systems tied to email and in-app inboxes
  • And more targeted marketing for businesses based on customer purchases AND interests
An innovative partnership like this could revolutionize the brick-and-mortar shopping experience. But could it save it from an inevitable death-by-dot-com?

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