With the holiday shopping season approaching, Yelp has launched Yelp Check-in Offers so businesses can offer discounts to store visitors. Yelp Check-in Offers is taking on Facebook Connect, and Yelp said it already has more than 500,000 offers. An app for Android devices is available, and a Yelp Check-in Offers app is coming to the iPhone.
On the heels of Facebook Deals and just in time for Black Friday, Yelp is getting into the check-in rewards business . Yelp Check-in Offers demonstrates a growing appetite for geolocation services that motivate consumers to shop.
Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman described Yelp Check-in Offers as a way for businesses to reward their most loyal customers and attract new ones. From the consumer's perspective, he called it a "great way to save money or get free stuff for what you're already doing."
Yelp initially launched check-ins in January. The company reports on average a 50 percent month-over-month growth in the use of the feature. Yelp also said more than 500,000 sales and special offers have already been uploaded to its site via its free suite of business tools. That signals interest from retailers promoting deals.
Yelp vs Facebook
Yelp Check-in Offers is available for Android phones via an app, and the company said an iPhone app is coming. There are already more than 1,500 Yelp Check-in Offers for consumers to choose from, and Yelp said businesses are reaching 2.6 million users each month.
Here's how Check-in Offers works: A consumer checks in at a retail location to unlock an offer. If a consumer chooses the Use it Now! option for the offer on that visit, it will disappear automatically from his or her smartphone device in a few hours. The user or the business staff can also tap a button on the phone to mark the offer as used, expiring the timer immediately.
If a consumer chooses Save it!, the Check-in Offer will be saved in several places on the device. The user can then redeem the offer anytime, following the same process. Yelp did not disclose specific retailers with which it has relationships.
Facebook rolled out its Deals service earlier this month. It works in a similar manner. You tap the Check In button on the Facebook Places smartphone application and it displays a list of places near you. You can choose the place that best matches where you are. If the place is not on the list, you can search for it or add it. Then, after you check in, Facebook will post to your friends' news feeds and your visit will show up in the recent activity section on the page for that place.
How well check-in discounts take off may be matter of privacy. Although Facebook and Yelp are proving that check-in discounts are a workable model, Yelp, Foursquare and Facebook may have to prove adequate privacy before consumers will check in -- even for a discount.
"Facebook Places was originally positioned as a service that lets your friends know where you are so they can find you and everyone can connect," said Brad Shimmin, an analyst at Current Analysis. "But what we are talking about with Yelp is not forging connections between you and your friends, but you and the vendor. So you are not checking in to let everyone you know that you are in Starbucks, you are checking in to let Starbucks let you know you are at Starbucks."