Foursquare allows people to "check in" at various establishments by using the application on an iPhone, Android device or BlackBerry. Almost 1 million businesses are listed on the merchant platform - and almost 25 million people use the app to offer their social networks insight into their location.
The benefit to the store, restaurant or merchant that Foursquare users are visiting is that the managers or in-store personnel can get a better idea about traffic during certain periods of time and keep tabs on returning versus new visitors.
The benefit for potential shoppers or patrons is that they might gain access to special deals or promotions that might not otherwise be publicized.
One of the biggest changes is that Foursquare users' full names now will be displayed when they check in (by default). People will still be able to control how the name is displayed when they pick one in the first place (which means you won't necessarily see everyone's full name, but there will be difference from the past in that you are more likely to be able to collect more complete information, if someone chooses to share it).
The biggest revision, one that small-business owners should welcome, is that companies will now be able to access information about customer check-ins for more than the previous three-hour window they could see in the past. That means if your staff is too busy to check in the middle of the day, it could check after closing time and collect more customer information than might have been possible before.