Is 'Dashing D' Limiting the Check-ins at Your Store?

Ad Age's Exclusive Ranking of Retail Check-ins

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Last week we talked a little about daily check-ins and how they vary between retailers and eating establishments. One thing that keeps making us raise an eyebrow as we look over these check-in stats is the continued high-ranking of Best Buy. The most recent figures we've seen on location-based apps and their usage suggest that roughly (by which we mean really roughly) 4% of the population is using them, likely not all on a very regular basis. Places like Starbucks, Walmart, Target , etc., are likely to be places people go daily or weekly. How often do you go to a Best Buy?

So if we take a limited part of the population (Foursquare users) and segment that further by the users going to Best Buy, and checking in, how do they wind up with 10,000 check-ins a week. Consistently. Every Week?

Our hunch is that it has something to do with their 180,000 employees. Take Gary S., the mayor of Best Buy's corporate headquarters in Richfield, M.N. He's checked in there 42 times in the last 60 days. Or Carl B., the mayor of the Best Buy on Moreland Avenue in Atlanta. He's checked in on 25 of the last 60 days. Overall, all-time check-ins at the headquarters total 10,957, by just 1,095 people, meaning the average person who checks in there does so 10 times. Likely not visitors, eh? We can see this happening at other locations, too. The mayor of the Target branch on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst, N.Y., "Dashing D," has checked in on 32 of the last 60 days.

This could easily have a chilling effect on check-ins. If the idea is that the game drives check-ins, why even bother at a venue where you know you'll never be able to keep up with employees who are checking in every time they go to work? Will marketers need to have check-in policies for their employees?

This could be an issue for marketers trying to drive traffic with mayor specials.

At the same time, it's all the more reasons for marketers to offer some sort of check-in incentive. Foursquare's working on making that easier, by finally launching new tools for venue owners and brands, but there is still a lot of manual labor on Foursquare's end to make those partnerships work while they build out automated tools, so don't expect a flood of new deals just yet.

Without further ado, here's last week's leader board.

MERCHANT CHECK-INS (PAST 7 DAYS) WEEK OVER WEEK CHANGE
1 Starbucks Starbucks 150,991 4%
2 McDonald's McDonald's 51,086 3%
3 Walmart Walmart 31,649 3%
4 Target  Target 30,624 4%
5 Apple Apple 16,406 7%
6 Best Buy Best Buy 13,654 5%
7 Costco Costco 12,181 3%
8 Chipotle Chipotle 10,905 3%
9 Burger King Burger King 10,835 2%
10 Ikea Ikea 10,800 1%

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