Shopkick is one of those interesting new shopping apps available on iPhones, Android devices, and other smartphones. We believe Shopkick (and similar apps to come) have the potential to dramatically change consumer shopping habits. It’s another example of power of smartphones as we have discussed earlier in this space (Feb 17),  Got the Whole World in Your Hand(held)

Shopkick was introduced in August 2010, and now has more than 1 million users, 10% of whom use it daily. Simply, it’s a mobile app that delivers rewards and offers for walking into stores and for scanning products. The rewards come in the form of points called “Kickbucks”, as well as bonuses at several large retailers including  Best Buy, Crate & Barrel, Macy's, American Eagle, Sports Authority, Target, and Wet Seal. Kickbucks are redeemable for rewards of various types  including iTunes gift cards, restaurant vouchers, Best Buy, Target, Macy’s, American Eagle, Sports Authority gift cards, Facebook credits, movie tickets, and so on. Users also are able to donate kickbucks to a variety of charitable causes as well.

First of all, one can collect a nominal amount of kickbucks for merely “checking in” on a mobile device, even without a store visit. The one million users have now checked in more than 100 million times in the first six months of Shopkick’s existence. But the bigger (kick)bucks are generated for walking into the participating stores previously mentioned.  They have installed in-store devices that emit a signal picked up by the smartphone apps which then prompt the automatic check in. If a user is so moved, more kickbucks can be garnered by then scanning products with their smartphone. None of these actions require any purchase, although the theory is that the effort expended to do so will undoubtedly result in increased purchase.


Getting customers to walk through the door is key because this act is equivalent to an online click, but better. The typical conversion rate from visit to purchase online is 0.5-3% whereas the typical conversion rate in-store is 20-95%, depending on category.   The Shopkick model rewards customers for their visits (a.k.a. their intent to purchase).

The idea is simple and brilliant. Reward consumers for the behavior the retailer is seeking—store visits and brand interaction, and in so doing, create more business.


Though the non-store visit check-ins are a way to engage users, Shopkick is more about generating foot traffic to retail stores. So far 20% of all users who live in an area with Shopkick walk-in rewards have already walked into a store with the app on, claims CEO Cyriac Roeding. He also said that Shopkick has figured out a means to reliably increase in-store walk-ins -- by boosting the Kickbucks walk-in rewards that Shopkick users would get when they walk into the stores. Sounds logical.

Shopkick hasn’t gotten get the same level of attention that Groupon, Foursquare, and Facebook Places have received, yet it appears to be off a strong start with unlimited potential. But no doubt there will be competitors including retail chains themselves who may develop their own shopping apps.  

Offline sales that are “online influenced” will reach 50% of all total sales by 2012. Mobile is a more immediate online tool for generating offline sales. It is the missing link between mass marketing and Point-of-Sale efforts. The challenge has been that location-based targeting is hit or miss when reliant upon GPS. The Shopkick application is much more reliable in reaching actual customers who are walking through the door.

It’s a trend worth watching.