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Walmart dominates mobile retail check-ins: report

Walmart had the lion’s share of mobile check-ins among leading retailers in June with 38.3 percent, according to new research from LocalResponse.

Target came in second with 15.4 percent of check-ins among the top 10 United States retailers, followed by Costco with 9.3 percent, Best Buy with seven percent and Walgreens with six percent. Foursquare was by far the most popular vehicle for consumer check-ins, accounting for 78.5 percent of all check-ins among the top 10 retailers.

“The large number of check-ins for Walmart is reflective of the sheer volume and scale of Walmart,” said Kathy Leake, president/cofounder of LocalResponse, New York.

“For Walmart, an increasing number of shoppers are broadcasting over Twitter that they are in Walmart as opposed to using a location-based service,” she said.

“The overall theme is that people are broadcasting their location – this is just the way that people are using Twitter.”

Social media preference varies
The report covers implicit check-ins, which is when users broadcast their location via Twitter or another social network, as well as explicit check-ins, which is when shoppers use foursquare or another similar service to check-in and are publicly posting those check-ins over Twitter, something that about 60 percent of foursquare users do.

The least popular social media network for check-ins was Instagram with 1.4 percent.

The research shows that social media preference varies by retail brand. Walgreens had the highest percentage of consumer check-ins via Foursquare – 94.9 percent – while Walmart had the highest percentage of check-ins on Twitter – 29.4 percent.

Costco’s most active users are on Instagram – 8 percent – while Safeway’s are on Yelp – 9.7 percent.

The research also uncovered some interesting trends related to check-ins.

For example, while it is not unexpected that the most active time period for check-ins is Saturday, it is surprising to see that the second most active period occurs late in the day on Friday and not Sunday, as many might have expected.

According to the report, Saturday had 25.9 percent of all check-ins registered across the top 10 U.S. retailers, followed by Friday with 19.7 percent, then Sunday with 14.3 percent.

Additionally, the research found that women were less likely overall to check-in than men – 46 percent versus 54 percent respectively.

The largest percentage of male check-ins occurred at Best Buy – 67 percent – and Lowe’s – 65 percent. The largest percentage of female check-ins occurred at Target – 53 percent.

Leveraging check-ins
The results show that there is an opportunity for retailers to activate against shoppers’ check-in activity.  

For example, if a shopper checks into a store on foursquare and publicly broadcasts this over Twitter, marketers can respond back with a thank you message in the user’s Twitter feed and include a link to a mobile landing page where the user might find a coupon, a video or some other relevant content.

This can help retailers address showrooming by serving a message with an offer to a user while they are in the store.

Additionally, marketers can serve a mobile banner ad to users soon after they check-in to drive them back to the store.  

LocalResponse reports that it sees a click-through rate of between 40 percent and 60 percent for ads sent to users while they are in the store and a 0.7 percent to 0.9 percent average engagement rate for banner ads.

The research reviewed check-ins across multiple location-based services as well as social networks such as Twitter, foursquare, Yelp and Instagram at the top 10 U.S. retailers in June. The findings represent a sample of data aggregated across LocalResponse’s advertising platform.  

“Last year, there was definitely a learning curve when it came to leveraging check-ins,” Ms. Leake said. “In a year that has changed and most retailers today are understanding the importance of this data and activating against it.

“The communication is one-to-one, direct and highly contextual,” she said. “If you are checking in at Macy’s and Macy’s talks back to you with an offer that is highly relevant to the user.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associte editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York