Yelp announced a "Check-in Offers" platform on its blog today, representing the local business player's most direct challenge to Foursquare, Gowalla, Scvngr, and other location-based platforms.
Business owners already using Yelp will see the offers option on their backend dashboard. The platform will allow them to pitch discounts and freebies to a patron checking in at their location via Yelp's app. The offers are currently available for iPhone and Android users.
Interestingly, the updated Yelp app utilizes a timer limiting the life of the offer, similar to one used in a recent check-in campaign from Carl Jr. and Hardee's . If Yelp users tap a "Use it Now!" button for their offer, the discount/special will disappear from the app "in a few hours time," according to Yelp's official blog. In other words, they will need to use the offer that day. Business staff like a cashier or waiter can instruct patrons to tap a button on their phone to mark the offer as used, which expires the timer immediately and eliminates the potential for double redemptions.
Yelp users can also hit a "Save it!" button, which saves the offer either on the app's "About Me" page or at the top of the location's business page. The user can redeem the saved offer before it expires.
Check-in Offers is available to location-based businesses in the U.S., U.K., and Ireland. According to Yelp's blog, on-the-go businesses like limousine drivers, plumbers, and locksmiths will not be able to use the platform.
The debut of the platform comes 10 months after Yelp first introduced check-ins on its app. And, it arrives two months since daily deals from local businesses began appearing via Yelp.
While the San Francisco-based company hasn't responded to information requests, the platform appears to be free for businesses to use. Its emergence - along with the free Facebook Places - seems to put extra heat on other location-based platforms. Gowalla most certainly is taking note, as it tries to monetize its business model with a paid program.
Meanwhile, Yelp posted a video to explain the platform to businesses:
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
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