The company is using an approach known as geo-push to make highly targeted offers.

It consists of two components:

  • A location-based app that tracks users via GPS or cell tower signal; and
  • Geo-fences, virtual boundaries around Starbucks coffee shops. Crossing them triggers a specific action in the app, such as sending a promotional notification.


Source: medium . com

By combining GPS data and users’ purchase history, you can anticipate user desires and power-up your business. According to Localytics, 36% of those surveyed have made a purchase upon receiving a local notification.

Adding geolocation capabilities to your product can:

  • Increase conversions;
  • Boost user engagement;
  • Attract new customers;
  • Make your services faster and more precise; and
  • Provide high-quality data for marketing purposes.

Yelp and Foursquare have built entire business around location-aware apps.

In the US, 94% of smartphone owners aged between 18 and 49 have used location-based services (LBS) apps. This means that building such an app can open your business to almost 200 million customers in the US alone.

That’s impressive, but does this mean geolocation will work for your particular type of business?

Let’s see how leading businesses in various industries take advantage of this technology:


dunkin donuts geolocation

Source: abancommercials . com

MDG Advertising survey shows that 72% of users will act on a call-to-action delivered when they pass near a store.

Starbucks uses geolocation to its full potential. In addition to receiving highly-targeted offers and discounts, you can order your favorite beverage on the go and have it ready when you enter the coffee shop.

Dunkin’ Donuts is another fast food chain that uses geolocation to increase sales. By partnering with Waze (the biggest social navigation app), it allows customers to find the nearest coffee shop and order baked goods ahead of time.

What’s more, Dunkin’ Donuts successfully uses a tactic known as geo-conquesting to win over Starbucks customers. When coffee lovers approach Starbucks, they receive messages from Dunkin’ Donuts with hot offers and discounts.

The concept is simple – you set up a boundary around the competitor’s shops and send targeted messages to potential customers. Sometimes, a small discount or a special offer is enough to influence buyer behavior.

As a result, 3,6% of people who received Dunkin’ Donuts offers came to redeem them in store.


target indoor navigation

Source: Target

Target allows its customers to pick up the goods without entering a store. Just download the app, select a product, and choose a Drive Up option. You can then get your order from an employee waiting at the parking lot.

The app tracks your movement to alert the staff in time and cut scheduling expenses.

Many large retailers use location-aware applications to improve customer experience.

You can locate the nearest Walmart, get the traveling directions, find a parking space and even navigate inside the shop using an interactive map.

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons can deliver personalized offers the moment a customer enters a shop. Some large retailers like Lord & Taylor or Macy’s already use the tech, while smaller stores can benefit from point-of-sale terminals with built-in Bluetooth beacons.

bluetooth low energy beacons

Source: Shopify

BLE beacons can track customers throughout the store and drive them to individual aisles with special offers and gamification. You can, for example, get rewards for specific products and exchange the earned points for gift cards, etc.

This turns a boring shopping trip into a fun little quest for rewards.

shopkick app


Shopkick has built its business on inciting people to buy various goods. The app rewards users for visiting certain stores with points they can exchange for gift cards.

When you open the app, it invites you to collect points by going to a local shop. When you enter the store, the app shows you the available discounts and offers. You can scan the promoted products with your phone and collect the rewards.

As GPS can’t accurately pinpoint customers inside buildings, Shopkick uses a subaudible audio signal and BLE beacons to locate its users.

Shopkick has partnered with 270,000+ stores and earned its partners more than 2,5 billion USD in sales.

People like free stuff and enjoy using apps to access coupons and discounts. You can make your app even more popular by letting users share hot offers with their friends.

Communities and Networks

Juvo location based app

Juvo app (developed by MindK)

Most major social networks offer geolocation features.

For example, Snapchat’s Geofilters allow snapchatters to add location-specific filters to their photos. Local businesses can create their own filters to promote their products.

While it’s hard to compete with Facebook or Snapchat, there’s a huge untapped market in the form of local communities and hobby groups.

We’ve used this strategy when developing Juvo, a location-based app for communities and associations in Norway.

With geolocation feature, Juvo makes it easy to engage community members.

You can find relevant meetups within a customizable radius or request help from other members nearby.

Imagine, you’re a disabled person who needs a wheelchair to navigate the city. Suddenly one of its wheels becomes dislodged. Using Juvo, you can share your location with other people or get advice on how to fix the wheelchair in the field.

You can use a similar approach to build an app tailored to a specific group.

Untappd, for example, allows beer lovers to rate local breweries and craft beers. By targeting a niche audience, the app has managed to acquire 3.2+ million users.

CityHour helps professionals find networking opportunities and set up local meetings. You can narrow down your search to certain industries, dates, meeting types, or locations.

On-Demand Services

uber geolocation

Uber, which has reached a market value of $72 billion, created a whole new industry of on-demand services. These marketplaces connect users and providers of various services, from ride hitching to hotel booking and meal delivery.

Geolocation helps companies render these services with unseen precision and speed.

Postmates allows you to order food from any cafe, restaurant or supermarket in your city and have it delivered anywhere you want. You can track your goods in real time using an interactive map.

For faster delivery, the app chooses couriers based on their proximity to the store.

Users receive their goods within one hour while restaurants get more clients. The app charges a delivery fee that depends on the order cost and distance traveled.

Note: Postmates is limited to USA meaning there’s a potential for launching similar apps in other markets.

E-commerce and Marketplaces

E-commerce giants like Amazon and eBay use geolocation to improve customer experience.

GPS can be used to determine buyer location and calculate shipping expenses. The same tech allows users to track the ordered goods, building trust towards e-commerce apps.

Another benefit comes from connecting buyers with local sellers.

But the biggest advantage of geolocation for e-commerce lies in the improved logistics.

“By giving people hyper-local, relevant retailer information and deals on their mobile phones, we see a huge opportunity for local merchants to reach more buyers, and for consumers to get more choice and value when they shop.” – Amanda Piers, senior director of global communications, PayPal.

Transport and Logistics


geotab location based app


The e-commerce boom has driven a huge increase in freight. Experts predict that e-retail shipments will grow 4x faster than the US economy.

With fleet management solutions (like Geotab), freighters can track individual trucks, plan optimal routes and increase the speed of delivery.

They can also save a ton of money on fuel. Freighters spend as much as 20-40% of time idling. By detecting pointless idling and avoiding traffic jams, transport companies can significantly reduce fuel consumption.

The data gathered by such apps can be used to predict maintenance costs and simplify compliance.

By combining GPS tracking with real-time reporting and CRM capabilities, you can create a solution to most freighters’ problems.

Financial Services


monzo location aware banking app

Source: monzo . com

Whenever you make a transaction, US Bank app checks whether your phone is in the same location as your card. This can prevent fraud and reduce the number of declined transactions when the bank thinks you should be in some other place (e.g. when traveling abroad).

Bank of Ireland has adopted another strategy. It has set up geofences around airports to detect users traveling abroad. The bank then sends helpful notifications with tips on how to access its services in other countries.

Entertainment and Sports

bands in town local events app


Bandsintown helps you find concerts nearby. It combines location data with your music streaming history to send perfectly timed notifications.

The similar strategy can be applied to all kinds of events. Fan Central Station app allows to buy tickets for events from concerts to football matches. It aggregates offers from primary sellers (no extra margins) and notifies users of nearby events.

What’s more, people who go to events also want food, drinks, weather forecasts, appropriate clothes, hotel rooms, and tickets. If you pack your event app with all these, you can greatly increase your value proposition.

levis stadium location based app

Levi’s Stadium app

The San Francisco 49ers has one of the most creative uses of GPS tech. The football team has partnered with Amazon Prime to deliver orders to people tailgating outside Levi’s Stadium.
You can buy food, drinks and other goods and have them delivered straight to your parking spot.

And if you become hungry while watching the game, you can order a meal without leaving your seat. The app even provides directions to stadium facilities and shows how busy the bathrooms are.

Healthcare and Fitness

strava location based fitness application


Strava allows runners and cyclists to choose perfect routes. The app tracks your activities on the map and allows you to share achievements with other users. You can also chat with local runners and find running companions.

RunKeeper app goes a step further. It analyzes your playlist to find the music that matches perfectly with your speed and location.

Location-based tech also has potential uses in healthcare. With a combination of BLE beacons, Wi-Fi and GPS, hospitals could track patients and important equipment. This speeds up doctors’ work, where each minute counts.


trip advisor travel app


A lot of things can go wrong when traveling abroad. People use location-based apps to find traveling destinations, book tickets and hotels, search for landmarks and cafes, rate them and review.

TripAdvisor uses geolocation to engage with its user base. It has set up geofences around popular landmarks and tourist destinations like cafes and airports. The app sends targeted messages to encourage users to write reviews and stay active in the community.

Detour offers guided walking tours for various cities across the globe. The app uses geofencing to determine user location and plays audio clips when they come near famous landmarks.

Bonus idea: Hotels could use location-based applications for added value with indoor navigation, guided tours for the local landmarks, and even use a smartphone’s Bluetooth signal to unlock doors.

Weather Services

dark sky geolocation application

Dark Sky

Dark Sky uses geolocation for extremely detailed weather forecasts. It aggregates data from multiple weather services to deliver hyperlocal forecasts with minute-by-minute accuracy.

But you don’t have to be a weather geek to benefit from the relationship between weather and location.

Factors such as temperature have a great influence on shopping behavior. Hot weather is good for ice cream, bikinis, and sunscreen. While high humidity is apparently bad for your hair.

At least that’s what helped Pantene to push back against its competitors in 2013.

The company has partnered with The Weather Channel to create a marketing campaign that informed women about the ‘bad hair’ days and how to survive them.

As the result, Pantene’s sales have jumped 28% while the company has generated over 600,000 social impressions.

A similar strategy can be used to advertise traveling destinations, hot coffee and even ugly sweaters.

Productivity Apps


any do local reminders allows users to set up reminders and have them triggered in a specific location. For example, you can create a shopping list that would pop up in a notification when you come near a particular store.

Trigger goes one step further. It allows you to create sophisticated geo-triggers for various functions of your smartphone. It can, for example, automatically switch on Wi-Fi when you enter your office or send a message to your significant other (or a cat) when you go home.

Honorable Mentions

Concluding Notes

Track record from 20 industries shows that location-based apps could work for almost any type of business. They can increase sales, boost user engagement and attract new customers. They can turn outdated business models into profitable monsters.

You don’t have to invent a radical new idea to succeed.

Just take a lesson from Hollywood writers. When creating a script for a new movie, they often take a famous story and change its setting (Dances with Wolves but in space) or put a familiar character into an unfamiliar situation (Dracula but in space!).

You can combine ideas from successful products in new ways or apply them to other niches (just don’t take them to space).

So grab a pen, a sheet of paper and run a mini-brainstorming session. Go back into the article and jot down the ideas that seem interesting. How can you apply them to your niche? How can you improve them? What might users want from your app?

You’ll need to refine these ideas before you can turn them into a functioning product.

At this point, it’s important to get input from business analysts that have experience with geolocation applications. You can schedule a free consultation with our team OR join me in the next article to learn how to create a location-based app.


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