Foursquare Analytics, a Dashboard for Location Intel, Debuts

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After years of gathering location data shared by its users, Foursquare keeps coming up with new ways its resources can help brands and retailers focus campaigns on their customers.

A couple of weeks ago, the company released its Pilgrim SDK for retailers to use. Now today marks the public debut of Foursquare Analytics, a dashboard that puts location intelligence in the hands of brands the company works with. “We think of it like Google Analytics, but for the real world,” says Mike Harkey, vice-president of business development with Foursquare.

The dashboard, he says, leverages Foursquare’s location tech capabilities for restaurant chains, retailers, and others who need deeper consumer analytics. Early beta partners who already got a taste of this product include TGIFridays, H&M, Taco Bell, and Equinox.

This is yet another step in the evolution of Foursquare, which made its name early on with check-ins at commercial locations. Harkey says he was brought on largely to run Foursquare’s API platform, which is used by some 100,000 developers to access the company’s location intelligence. Those users include companies like Samsung, Twitter, Snapchat, and Airbnb.

Foursquare wanted to do more with its location intel, he says, by using data to illustrate what happens in the real world. One idea the company came up with was to use foot traffic to predict sales of Apple’s iPhones 6s the weekend of its debut in 2015. The Foursquare team has used its data to create other business forecasts as well. “We’ve predicted Chipotle sales in advance of an earnings call,” he says.

Such efforts created an awareness of the inherent power of location intel that is native in the data, Harkey says. Retailers, fitness, and fast casual dining companies soon asked about predictions and how they could access such data for their own needs. “It became clear that if you’re an analyst or strategist at one of those companies, studying the competition, you need tools on your desktop,” he says.

Foursquare’s Mike Harkey

A key part of Foursquare Analytics, Harkey says, is the company’s unique insight gained via smartphones as people move in and out of commercial venues. Retailers and brands want to see why their sales increase, or drop, in particular regions. They also want to understand who their best customers are, what they do in the real world, and where are they spend time. Foursquare Analytics may help them decipher those trends and see what happens offline among customers. “The dashboard puts the power of all that location intelligence in their hands to explore those questions,” Harkey says.

This is a type of service that Foursquare says has not existed before, promising to empower marketers with insights about customers. Through the dashboard, companies can define what a loyalist is among their customers, understand where else they shop, and how much time they spend with a particular chain. “We’re going to help our partners solve real business challenges,” Harkey says.

The dashboard was built on top of the always-on, opt-in panel that lets Foursquare see people move in and out of real world venues. This anonymized, aggregated data comes from the 93 million places in the company’s database from around the globe.

Foursquare Analytics will start with a monthly reporting structure, Harkey says, which over time will move towards tighter time increments. The company will further discuss the dashboard this week at the Shoptalk conference in Las Vegas, and then open up the program beyond the beta participants. “We see 2017 as a year when we are going to double and triple-down on our location intelligence solutions for this market,” Harkey says.

Joao-Pierre Ruth is a Street Fight contributor.