Yelp launches 'check-in deals' as social commerce buzz grows
Yelp, the local reviews website, is launching a feature that will allow users of its mobile app to gain rewards, such as discounts and free gifts.
In return for ‘checking in’ at places they visit, Yelp users will be able to take advantage of deals from local businesses.
Mobile check ins have been an emerging trend this year, with stand-alone services Foursquare and Gowalla gaining momentum and Facebook adding its own Places service.
Check ins are just one facet of so-called “social commerce” sites that use social networks to drive marketing and purchases.
Groupon, a website that allows businesses to advertise deals which are made available to members if enough people sign up for the deal, has this week been the focus on rumours suggesting that Google plans to buy the company for anything between $2.5bn and $3bn.
The New York Post reported earlier this week that a deal would happen “in the next month”.
A similar site, My Voucher Codes, has this week launched an iPhone application that allows people to find shopping deals based on their location.
Yelp has offered check ins since January but until now businesses registered with the service have not been able to reward their customers.
“The gaming elements of check in services probably don’t appeal to everybody,” said Eric Singley, director of consumer and mobile products at Yelp. “Check in offers will help change the perception of these services.”
Singley said that Yelp check ins are growing, on average, by 50pc each month. The site offers tools so local business owners can see how often their most regular customers are visiting.
Yelp was founded in 2004 by Jeremy Stoppelman and Russel Simmons, both former software engineers at PayPal. It has become the leading local business listings site in the US and is growing in popularity in the UK.
At the end of last year it was reported that Google was preparing a $500m bid for Yelp. It is believed that Yelp rejected the offer, though both companies refused to comment on the rumours.