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Geospatial tech, including geofencing, gains more ground in B2C space

Earlier this year, we posted about how geospatial technology is transforming industries and enabling disruption outside its traditional applications. We’ve also discussed how retail and other B2C industries are using geospatial data to predict customer behavior and deepen loyalty. Fast-food giants have caught on, too – as Burger King demonstrated this week, when it debuted its latest assault on McDonald’s dominance (and perhaps its dignity).

Geofencing – using GPS or RFID to create a virtual boundary around a particular location – has been used as a B2C strategy for a few years now, mostly to enhance the experience of browsing, shopping, or otherwise spending time at a physical location. Retailers typically integrate geofencing with their mobile apps to provide additional value to consumers: special offers, product locators, loyalty programs, and the like, all triggered by a customer’s proximity to a specific store.

McDonald’s is already savvy in regards to geofencing, having added the capability to its mobile ordering app in 2017. Using location information to detect when a customer is getting close to the store, the app alerts staff to prepare the correct order, ensuring hot food, fewer errors, and shortened wait times.

With the recent relaunch of its BK app, Burger King will also offer customers the ability to order ahead. And they didn’t pass up the opportunity to take a swipe at the competition: through December 12, you can get the chain’s signature Whopper for a penny, but only “at McDonald’s” – because the BK app has geofenced McDonald’s locations across the country.

If a customer has the BK app and is inside one of the geofenced areas, the app will unlock the one-cent deal. Customers can then place their order and get routed to the nearest Burger King for pickup.

Gimmicky? Perhaps, but Burger King prefers to characterize the stunt as “turning more than 14,000 McDonald’s into Burger King restaurants.” That’s a powerful statement about the impact of location data on B2C marketing, and more evidence of how geospatial technology continues to make inroads in surprising and exciting ways.

Andy Dearing

Andy Dearing


Andy is the CEO of Boundless and previously held the role of the Vice President of Professional Services. A commercial pilot and self-taught geographer, Andy has been working with GIS for nearly 15 years. He can often be found working from one of our many locales, or representing the Boundless brand at a number of industry events and philanthropic endeavors throughout the year. Andy resides in Missouri with his wife and four kids, where he enjoys hiking, fishing, and woodworking -- when is he is not out camping with his son’s Boy Scout troop.