American Express, Foursquare expand location-based offers nationwide

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American Express Co. and Foursquare rolled out a location-based offers service on June 23 that enables partner companies to deliver discounts. Participating merchants at launch are retailers H&M and Sports Authority and holding company Union Square Hospitality Group, which owns various New York City restaurants.

Consumers who link their American Express cards with their Foursquare accounts can receive offers, such as a $10 discount at H&M on purchases totaling $75 or more, after checking in at a participating brand location and loading the merchant's Foursquare special on their linked card. American Express will fulfill the discount without the consumer needing to display a coupon at the point of sale.

Luke Gebb, VP of global network marketing at American Express, said the “couponless” system benefits merchants because they don't have to train employees to process coupons. He said the program also enables merchants to measure the ROI of Foursquare promotions.

“[Merchants] can do a campaign in an application and link the actions taken in that application to legitimate spend on our network, both during that promotion and ongoing,” he said. “So they can understand whether they've gained a solid base of loyal customers, or whether [the promotion resulted in] one-and-done transactions. We'll be able to provide that reporting.”

American Express will not share cardholder data with Foursquare.

The companies tested the service in March in a pilot program during the South by Southwest Interactive festival. Gebb said 10% of festival attendees registered for the program and “those who took advantage of deals spent about 20% more at the conference than others.”

The program uses American Express' Smart Offers API to link merchant-submitted deals with Foursquare's platform and member accounts. The system limits merchants to offers submitted on a daily basis, but Gebb said American Express will launch a self-service platform “soon” for merchants to upload offers directly. 

Asked if American Express has plans to trigger offers based on consumers' transaction history or Foursquare badges, Gebb said the company is looking at such capabilities but is not using any at launch.

“We are moving towards being able to target offers based on customers' spend history,” he said. Gebb added that “offers could be triggered by things that happen within the front-end partner platform, so in this case some sort of event within the Foursquare platform or the offers can be customized based on things that we know about your spend history.”

Visa said in April that it is partnering with brands to deliver transaction-triggered coupons. Also that month Google enabled nationwide users of its location-based Latitude mobile app to receive offers that are tiered based on check-in history.

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