Local Merchants, It's Time To Ditch The Sidewalk Chalkboard For Foursquare Welcome Screens

As Foursquare becomes more and more popular, so is the sidewalk chalkboard sign beckoning Foursquare users into the local coffee shop or bar and hailing the store’s current Mayor. While the chalkboard signs are quaint and add a nice personal touch, they don’t really change much throughout the day. What if a store put up a digital sign instead that welcomed the Mayor whenever they checked in, or really any patron when they checked in, and alerted them to Foursquare specials?

A small Canadian startup called ScreenScape now offers a Foursquare app for their digital signage service which lets local merchants display their Foursquare specials and welcome Mayors and other Foursquare users whenever they check in. Everyone loves seeing their name up in lights, and it doesn’t require a busy employee to go write a new name or promotion on the chalkboard. For $10 a month, merchants get an online dashboard to manage their digital signs (they supply their own screens). The signs are in about 1,500 venues now, mostly in Canada.

Other digital signage services such as Locamoda offer a similar service. But it is these types of applications which make digital signs more interesting than other types of in-store billboards. A customer walks in, and a store can reward their loyalty by recognizing them publicly or offering them a special deal. Of course, the customer’s cell phone also acts as a digital sign, which is suitable for more personal messages.

What would be really interesting is if stores started using digital signs to play games with customers who check in. For instance, one restaurant called AJ Bombers lets its top Foursquare users design a new menu every month. Displaying that menu on a digital sign would be a no-brainer, but even better would be a way for customers to help create that menu directly through Foursquare by sending messages or voting items up or down. Foursquare isn’t quite so sophisticated yet (the menu-creation happens offline), but the more that customers can interact with a business digitally, the more loyal they might become. Turning a store visit into a game is the next step in local marketing, and those digital signs could become both public leaderboards and the place where the games themselves unfold.

Photo credit: Flickr/Dennis Crowley.