The competition for local merchants is fierce — and in addition to battling it out over features and functionality, more and more platforms and services are upping their game in the way they work one-on-one with the merchants themselves.
Here are a handful of the ways hyperlocal companies have begun providing support and information to help businesses run more successful deals:
1) Getting in the weeds. In an effort to promote wider adoption of its mobile check-in platform, LevelUp deploys a team of staffers to train employees at establishments that have signed up to participate in its new loyalty program. These employee-training sessions have been key in getting businesses like 4 Corners Management, a restaurant group that operates six establishments in the Philadelphia area, to use the service.
2) Equipping them with hardware. Certain merchants running deals with Groupon and LivingSocial are being given iPads to manage limited-time promotions and expedite the process of coupon redemptions. These mobile devices allow business owners like Michael Lachowicz of Restaurant Michael in Winnetka, Illinois, to delegate the task of redeeming coupons and tracking reservations to employees who may not otherwise be sitting in front of computers.
3) Hanging out shingles. Foursquare is one of a handful of mobile check-in platforms — including Google Places and Yelp — that sends merchants vinyl window clings and posters when they claim their venues online. Not only do these promotional materials serve as advertising for the platforms themselves, but merchants like Todd Kuhns of Picker’s Famous in Kirksville, Missouri, say the signage makes it easier to promote check-in specials to customers who might not otherwise be checking their mobile phones.
4) Doing it for them. For national brands, the biggest challenge in setting up a mobile check-in program is often the time it takes to manually claim multiple retail locations. TopGuest has found a way around this, by offering to do the heavy lifting for businesses willing to try out its services. Companies like Choice Hotels say partnering with TopGuest made it possible for them to reward check-in behavior without building infrastructure or loading the GPS locations its 5,000 U.S. properties into a mobile system.