Wednesday, August 14, 2013

There's an app for that: Shopkick

Gift cards for just walking into stores you already visit.

Shopkick is a free location-based rewards application available for the iPhone and Android platforms. Users can earn "kickbucks" (rewards) when they check-in at participating businesses and also when they scan the barcodes on specific products. Users can simply open the Shopkick application and it will show nearby retailers offering a large number of kickbucks for walking in, where to earn a few for checking in, and what partner brand products are available to scan for additional kickbucks.

Customers can earn more kickbucks by scanning specific products. The kickbucks can then be redeemed for items such as iTunes gift cards, restaurant vouchers, retail gift cards, Facebook Credits, movie tickets, or products like cruises. Stores may also send Shopkick users exclusive store incentives and discounts for extra savings.

The number changes all the time as the app grows in popularity. Currently some of the major stores offering rewards to users who visit includes: Best Buy, Crate & Barrel, Macy's, American Eagle, Sports Authority, Target, Wet Seal and major Simon malls, in 18 major markets. Shopkick also partners with specific food brands with the same type of rewards it offers for stores and restaurants. Kraft Foods, Procter & Gamble and Unilever are just some of the food brands participating with Shopkick. To earn rewards and other Shopkick perks like coupons or recipes, users simply scan the barcode on specific products.

Brand participation is an area where Shopkick is continuing to focus on and grow.  Unlike some apps that offer a little bit of nothing, Shopkick has a pretty impressive rewards system.  There are currently are more than 1,100 retail locations nationwide that offer high-value rewards for visiting (usually 60-200 kickbucks). Smaller rewards are offered for "checking in" to more than 3 million businesses across the nation (usually one to two kickbucks). How Much Can You Earn Scanning Brands? Scanning partner brand products from Kraft Foods, HP, Proctor & Gamble, and Unilever at any store where they are in-stock will usually reward 10-20 kickbucks.

What About Deals and Offers? Users can browse through the "offers" tab within the app to see what discounts are available nearby.

Examples of deals:
  • American Eagle frequently offers 15 percent off a purchase. 
  • Sports Authority currently offers shoppers who spend $50 a $10 cash card. 
Currently the majority of businesses nationwide qualify for check-in rewards.

Unlike FourSquare, Shopkick does not have to work with a Global Positioning System (GPS), to determine users' locations. Instead the partnering business installs a device that emits an inaudible audio sound detected by the microphone on a user's iPhone or Android and prompts the app to deliver high-value rewards. And, because the detection occurs on your own mobile device, your privacy and location is under your own control.

Within the sound is a location code. In order to pick up the sound, users must turn on their cell phones and start the Shopkick application and walk into the business. This is the way to earn the highest rewards. Because traditional location-based apps rely solely on GPS, which has an error radius of 50-1000 yards on mobile phones, users can "check-in" without actually visiting a store. However, the smaller check-in rewards through Shopkick are based on GPS and users miss out on the real values offered by walking in and scanning products.

Unlike many other location-based apps which are more social in nature, Shopkick is more about rewarding loyal customers by giving them something back for their patronage. With its inclusion of food brands and other lifestyle brands such as HP and Intel, and the growing list of participating stores, Shopkick is definitely an app bargain hunters and savvy shoppers will want to try out.

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