Foursquare, a location-based social network, plans to distribute a free analytics tool and dashboard in the coming weeks that will give business owners access to a range of information and statistics about visitors to their establishments.

Tristan Walker, director of business development at Foursquare, said that the latest features were intended to help local merchants run their stores by giving them more information about their customers.

“We’re trying to give businesses more retention with current customers and the ability to add new customers with specials,” said Mr. Walker.

Foursquare is a service that allows users to share their location with a group of friends from “checking in” to a restaurant, business or other venue when they arrive. The company encourages the businesses to recognize Foursquare users in some fashion, such as a bar awarding free drinks to their most frequent customers.

With the new tool, businesses will be able to see a range of real-time data about Foursquare usage, including who has “checked in” to the place via Foursquare, when they arrived, the male-to-female customer ratio and which times of day are more active for certain customers. Business owners will also be able to offer instant promotions to try to engage new customers and keep current ones.

“If a restaurant can see one of its loyal customers has dropped off the map and is no longer checking in, the owner could offer them incentives to come back,” said Mr. Walker.

There will also be a Staff page available to each business that will allow employees to interact directly with customers using social networks.

Foursquare recently partnered with 30 small businesses to test the tool, and it plans to gradually roll it out to another 900 businesses in the coming weeks.

Via Robbo_KT on Twitter (Thanks)