June 29, 2011, 12:28 PM

American Express and foursquare partner on local deals

Consumers can redeem special offers after linking their AmEx cards to foursquare profiles.

Kevin Woodward

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

Users check in at merchants to receive special offers when they buy something.

American Express Co. cardholders who make known their presence at a merchant location using foursquare, a location-based mobile check-in service, will be eligible for special offers in a new program from the two companies. Sports Authority, H&M and Union Square Hospitality Group are the first participating merchants. AmEx expects to add more merchants in coming months.

AmEx cardholders who have foursquare accounts must register on a special AmEx web site to participate. AmEx says this program eliminates the need for coupons or special codes to redeem offers. Upon checking in at a participating merchant, the system connects the offer to the card. The cardholder simply pays with that card to redeem the offer, AmEx says.

For example, an AmEx cardholder who checks in at a Sports Authority store is eligible for a $20 discount on a purchase of $50. At H&M, the consumer gets $10 when she spends at least $75. The offers show up as credits on their card statements.

The AmEx tie-in is a big change for foursquare, the local deals company says. “Partnering with American Express to offer specials to their millions of cardmembers on a nationwide basis not only allows us to provide a completely seamless redemption experience to both users and merchants, it also enables merchants to really measure the success of their offline marketing efforts with foursquare,” says Dennis Crowley, foursquare CEO.

AmEx sees a good fit between its cardmembers and foursquare. “We appreciate that foursquare appeals to a younger customer who is excited by the check-in experience offered by location-based social technology,” says David M. Wolf, AmEx vice president of interactive development. “This is a natural fit to the couponless offers enabled by the American Express Smart Offer APIs technology.”

AmEx’s Smart Offer API enables the linking of the AmEx card to the foursquare account and electronically connects the merchant offer to the cardholder account. When enrolled cardmembers use an AmEx card to pay, they receive a message indicating that a statement credit will be issued. This eliminates the need for merchants to train their front-line staff to redeem the offers, AmEx says.

Foursquare and AmEx tested this system at South by Southwest Interactive, a technology event held in March.

Comments | 1 Response

  • The AmEx / Foursquare coupon partnership offer merchants a much better deal than the likes of Groupon do. Although we don’t know the specifics of each merchant participation agreement, my educated guess is that American Express, as part of its strong push to position itself at the forefront of the fast-growing mobile payments industry, is subsidizing a great deal of the coupons’ value. After all, for AmEx this is just another form of a rewards program. This is definitely not the case with the Groupon deals, which typically cost merchants 50 percent of the already heavily discounted coupon’s value. I could never figure out why any merchant would agree to this.

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