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How Your Small Business Can Use Pokémon GO To Boost Sales

July 21, 2016

You’ve likely heard by now that Pokémon GO is taking the world by storm. But did you know that if you run a small business, engaging with it could boost your sales? This article covers the essentials of what Pokémon GO is (for the uninitiated) and how merchants like you can make it work for your business.

What is Pokémon GO?
Pokémon GO is a video game developed by Niantic and Nintendo for people to play on their phones and mobile devices. It utilizes Augmented Reality—adding a digital component to real-world experiences and locations so that players can search for and engage with new characters embedded in their surroundings, wherever they are.

The game adds Pokéstops (areas with special characters or engagement opportunities) to specific locales across the world. Park spaces are popular for Pokéstops, but they can really be anywhere. These spots tend to draw in users looking to capture new characters, develop their existing characters, or engage with other players  For a detailed explanation geared towards the uninitiated, check out this great article on Vox.

In the few short weeks since its release, Pokémon GO has seen a meteoric rise in usage,surpassing the daily active users of Twitter on the U.S. Android platform. And, it’s important to note, the same study showed that the daily active users spend more minutes per day in Pokémon GO than Facebook.

Drowzee by Charles Hackleyon flickr

Why do I care?
Think about how real estate prices are calculated for retail spaces. In addition to square footage and layout, one of the biggest factors is location and probable foot traffic. Pokémon GO has garnered such a high volume of users in such a short time that it is radically affecting foot traffic in certain areas, which in turn, affects your business opportunities.

Foot traffic is primarily increased around Pokéstops. If you’re near a Pokéstop, you’re in luck, because there are ways to leverage that for more foot traffic. If you aren’t, you are welcome to apply for one through the Niantic support page, but likely, your request will fall on deaf ears.

How can I tell if there is a Pokéstop nearby?
If you’re looking to get involved with the Pokémon GO craze, step 1 is identifying any Pokéstops near you. Aside from becoming a player and wandering around, here are two ways to figure it out:

The easiest means of identifying a nearby Pokéstop is to check in on your business through Yelp.  They’ve just added a filter so that players can see if a shop or eatery will set them up to grab new characters.

Maybe you’re looking for something more specific? You can check in with the map of locations developed for Niantic’s previous Augmented Reality game, Ingress. You will have to sign up for Ingress and look up the maps of activity, but sites used for Ingress are nearly all setup as Pokéstops or other hubs of activity.

Map of Ingress Locations

What can I do with this information?
Like most phone-based games, Pokémon GO provides ample opportunity for users (including merchants) to spend small amounts of money to increase engagement. The general currency, called Pokécoins, is earned by playing, but can also be purchased at the rate of 100 Pokécoins for $0.99.

In the context of small business, you’re going to want to spend your Pokécoins on lures. These lures can only be placed at a Pokéstop, but will make more characters appear. This will certainly be of interest to players in the area, so luring them for the characters can also lure them into your business. Of course, it’s still up to you to convert them into customers, but simply attracting new potential customers is a valuable gain for a small price. Lures run for 100 Pokécoins ($0.99), but can be purchased in packages of 8 for 680 Pokécoins (roughly $7). These lures last 30 minutes, so you are talking about a $7 investment for 4 hours of increased traffic.

Maybe you don’t have time to manage your lures and keep the foot traffic moving in the Pokéverse. Have no fear; companies are already launching to help you stay on track.LureDeals will manage your lures for a small fee, and you can rest assured many other side businesses will be popping up in the intricate Pokéconomy.

Bottom Line
Plenty of small businesses out there are finding innovative ways to boost business with lures, specials, and creative advertising. There’s no denying that Pokémon GO is a hot business right now with a lot of international attention and high levels of engagement across the globe. Even with the implications it might have for small businesses, not everyone will find the right pathways to make this craze work for their bottom line. Will you?

[lead image: Wild Pikachu Appears! by Sadie Hernandez on flickr]