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IKEA gave Dubai customers discounts based on their Google Maps travel times

A five-minute journey nets a free veggie hotdog.
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IKEA's sprawling blue and yellow stores are usually located on the outskirts of cities, so for most people a trip to the Swedish furniture kingdom is a big event in itself. To reward its customers for making the trek, the company has now launched an initiative called "Buy With Your Time," where shoppers can purchase products with currency accumulated on the basis of their travel time to the store.

Using Google Maps Timeline, which records routes taken every day, customers can show staff at IKEA how long it's taken them to get there, and that time will be converted into cash. At this stage, the initiative is only operating in Dubai, with one hour of travel adding up to AED 105 (about $28), based on the average Dubai salary. Working on IKEA's Dubai prices, though, this means shoppers traveling for 49 minutes could net a free Lack coffee table, while a longer one hour and 55-minute trip would be the equivalent of a Billy bookcase. Even a five minute trip is good for a veggie hotdog.

No word yet on whether the program will roll out to other countries -- it may well be the case that Dubai's unique economy means such an offering isn't really feasible elsewhere. Nonetheless, it's an interesting use of the Google Maps Timeline function, and demonstrates future potential for brands looking to leverage this type of digital service to help boost brand engagement.

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