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We as consumers are driving the world more and more social. As we do business is under more and more pressure to embrace this brave new world.  Any business that does not know each of it’s customers is flirting with the danger of becoming irrelevant.

On new years eve I had a very expensive dinner at Rich Bar & Grill with some friends.  As has become our routine we all checked in with Foursquare.  My good friend Daryl was delighted to be informed that he was now the Mayor of the eatery and we held a mini celebration at the table in honour of his achievement. However I was struck by the fact that the owner (who was there) had no clue – no one rushed up to offer him a free glass of bubbly or a pat on the back.

With a little more thinking on the subject I have concluded that Foursquare provides massive promise for retail stores.  South Africans live in a mall culture.  I don’t have international stats but I would be willing to bet that we are more mall-reliant than most nations in the world.  This makes Foursquare the perfect tool.

In the example of the restaurant above, here are a few things they could do to generate a bit of loyalty.  An in an age of almost unlimited choice loyalty is on the most endangered of endangered species lists.

– Firstly and most obviously be on Foursquare themselves and be aware of who is checking in and what “tips” they are leaving.
– Encourage customers to get on Foursquare and check in and leave their tips. Offer specials that make it attractive (every 50th check in gets 10% or whatever).
– Instantly correct negative tips.
– Offer a special for the Mayor.  Make him or her feel like the Mayor.  Make them an ambassador for your brand by encouraging customers to compete for the Mayorship with due reward!

The above are probably the simplest of the basics but this would already start generating a little buzz around their brand.

I did a little checking around the world, just for coffee shops.  The average Star Bucks in LA has over 2500 Foursquare check-ins.  Mugg & Bean at Eastgate has 1.  At Bedford Centre it’s a little better at 64 (my wife just became the Mayor – not that they know or care). So clearly there are gaps in the market that could be fantastically worked by a socially aware retail brand.

I’m sure that within a few months of this writing the space will become crowded which will leave further gaps for innovation and inspiration.

What a world we’re living in!