The backbone of Foursquare from the application to the data center

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The old real estate mantra, “location, location, location,” now applies to all businesses, not just developers, town planners, retailers and restaurants.

Consumers, driven by the pandemic, have changed all kinds of everyday behaviors, moving seamlessly between online and offline channels – and as they do, commerce evolves with them.

Gary Little, CEO and President of Foursquare since early 2021, told PYMNTS ‘Karen Webster that insights from the data that moves with consumers – what they do and where they do it – can help businesses fine-tune their interactions in real time, helping them create optimized experiences for customers when they need them, wherever they are.

Often it is hyper-locally. Many of us are still working from our living room or study, venturing to local stores, and maybe (and maybe it’s big) heading to the office a day or two a week. Basically, we spend our time close to home.

Little said the past two years have proven to be a “fascinating time” to keep the pulse of real physical human movement.

“What we’re seeing now are different forces coming together,” Little said, “where companies have gone to a huge effort to digitize their infrastructure – and now there is also a huge need to understand the consumer worlds. physical and digital, and how these worlds collide.

Many aspects of the collision will prove to be permanent, Little said. Among them, the possibility of ordering goods and services before their arrival, with the aim by individuals to limit their time spent in person in brick and mortar premises.

It has become increasingly essential for retail businesses to know where their customers are going. In the broad sense, proximity is no longer a barrier to doing business – businesses can approach and strategize to reopen, change their hours of operation, and even change locations based on data.

Little offered an example of these fundamental changes, discussing that any Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) must now take into account foot traffic, pre-order functionality and the continued increase in delivery platforms. aggregators such as DoorDash and Uber Eats. These locations need to optimize their physical locations, thinking about nuances – the location of one QSR may be well populated with foot traffic, while another location may see more order flow going through Uber Eats.

The great digital and omnichannel shift is making inroads into other verticals. The financial services industry has shown continued adoption of mobile conduits, where uptime is dramatically reduced as banks and other institutions use real-time data to interact with consumers.

Little said that geospatial data is also emerging as a consideration, and that it is as important as information related to payments or fraud prevention – which, incidentally, is improved by the triangulation of mobile devices and accounts. trust maps and location-based information.

In this context, contactless payments, linked to digital wallets, cards and loyalty programs, can all be leveraged to create a seamless transaction at Starbucks, for example.

“You can really improve the whole experience, not just the payment layer,” Little said.

Continuous evolution

For its part, Foursquare has evolved since its inception in 2009, when it was launched as an application allowing users to “register” on sites and share their whereabouts.

Over subsequent developments, the company has taken shape as a social media company known for gamifying mobile recordings and giving recommendations. In 2020, the company merged with data localization provider Factual.

Today, it uses its location data to power application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs) to help large enterprises create better customer experiences and smarter business outcomes. , all based on what its data says about how consumers interact with the physical world. .

Products like the FSQ / Places API help FinTechs build apps in several ways, as the company’s offerings help businesses deliver timely and contextual app experiences and also provide insight into the journey of the business. consumer and purchasing behavior.

Little told Webster that the platform “searches for a set of data over time and does so in a way that protects consumer privacy” through opt-ins.

Foursquare collects and uses location data – currently spanning 100 million points of interest (POIs) and affecting 500 million devices – to help businesses anticipate changing consumer trends while meeting service obligations. This data is predictive in nature, he said, and helps corporate clients understand their key demographics and how consumer behaviors might change.

This information, in turn, could lead them to recalibrate how they approach Designated Market Areas (DMAs) in suburbs and cities, how they might refine e-commerce offerings, and even how they build chains of business. supply.

As Little told Webster, “Any business that relies entirely on a ‘map’ needs the kind of real-time information and telemetry that we can provide in partnership with companies like Apple Maps and Mapbox and others to create a strong user experience. “

Geospatial information, he said, can improve last mile services – making sure you and your Uber or Lyft driver are in the right place at the right time, in sync.

Restaurant delivery is best timed to ensure meals are delivered hot and fresh. Consumer packaged goods companies can cement customer relationships more firmly by offering timely rewards and promotions, and can even manage their inventory more effectively.

Looking to 2022 and beyond, Little said Foursquare plans to expand its footprint as a fully location-based platform, expanding its international presence and offering location data for developers to run. across multiple cloud providers, including Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Snowflake.

“Almost every industry understands that location data is essential for understanding your consumer, for understanding how best to create product experiences and how you interact with your customers,” Little said.

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