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Consumers already take their mobile phones with them everywhere they go. Applications such as ShopKick are hoping to take advantage of this situation to offer special perks to customers at the very moment they are considering items to buy in stores. ShopKick interacts with specific locations in the store and grants special points or kickbucks to customers for checking out the options—almost as if the shopper is Super Mario in the a store!

Unlike other GPS technology applications, ShopKick interacts with receivers located at the front of a store’s entrance. A customer receives points for entering the store, then gets more points for scanning bar codes, perhaps along with the offer of a discount on the item. Currently the application works with American Eagle, Best Buy, Macy’s, Sport’s Authority, and Target, though it hopes to expand quickly among small or midsized local stores, along with large, national retailers. It already has placed around 1000 small business receivers in large markets such as Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, and New York City.

Although ShopKick is the most exciting new entrant into the market, shopping applications that offer deals are growing more and more targeted across the board. Groupon, LivingSocial, and even Foursquare offer location-based deals. The better options also offer promotions specific to the user’s location, such as at home, at work, or in the store.

The most important objective right now might be just encouraging shoppers to visit stores and the linked places within those stores. Customers may find the process fun or gimmicky at first, but over time, these shopping applications may become their best shopping buddies, telling shoppers where to go for what they need and giving them points for doing so.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is ShopKick?

Steve McLinden, “App-titude,” SCT, September 2011.