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You may not have heard of Shopkick yet, but it's one of the best examples of the dramatic changes facing retailers now. An application that runs on iPhones, Shopkick pays consumers "kickbucks" - reward coupons - just for checking in when they enter a Best Buy, American Eagle, Macy's or other participating retailers. Additional kickbucks are available for performing particular actions - for example, scanning a poster on a store's dressing room wall into the iPhone camera. The kickbucks can be redeemed for gift cards and donations to charitable causes. Moreover, when shoppers at Best Buy show their iPhones running Shopkick to the cashier, they receive instant discounts.
Combining the location-finding power of the global positioning system, the ubiquity of the cell phone, and the creativity of online marketing, Shopkick and many similar applications are altering the consumer landscape. At a time when retailers are struggling to reach customers, who have become more and more hesitant to spend in a soft economic environment, this new use of technology will divide retailers further. The early adopters of mobile commerce (or m-commerce, as this new use of technology is called) will have greater opportunities to influence shoppers in real time as they build "in the moment" customer analytics capabilities.
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