Shopkick Plays a Sound Only Mobile Phones Can Hear, Saves You Money

Imagine walking down the street and you make a quick stop in your local Macy’s to look through some of the their fall clothes. You decide  to send a friend a quick text. Before you can hit send, you are notified that you are eligible to receive a $25 gift card for Macy’s because you just walked into the store. Your first thought might be, “How did this app know I was in Macy’s?”

No, big brother is not watching you. Shopkick uses an old, but trusted method of transmitting data through your phone to their service – audio. Each retailer that partners with Shopkick will have a special audio signal unique to their store playing upon entry. This audio song cannot be heard by humans but can be transmitted through your cell phone’s microphone and into the app. The app does need to be open and running in the background for this to work correctly. This allows for Shopkick to determine whether or not a person checking in is actually a “walk in” (inside the store) or a “check-in” (actually right outside the store).

The currency that Shopkicks operates on is called “Kickbucks” and you can earn them from the time you enter a store. One entry into a Best Buy might net you 50 Kickbucks right away. Continue through the Best Buy and scan an item (television, DVD, camera, etc) and you can earn additional Kickbucks which automatically drop into your account. The rewards for Kickbucks range from gift cards to Napster downloads to the ability to donate the funds to charity. Also, after checking into a store you might be eligible to receive a discount off your purchase for that visit. For example, if you are in Best Buy and are at the checkout line, you can inform the cashier that you are a Shopkick user along with your cell phone number and the applicable discount is applied to your purchase and shows up on your receipt.

Shopkick has agreements in place with American Eagle, Best Buy, Macy’s and The Sports Authority in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and San Francisco and other major markets. You can also find some stores that are wired for the Shopkick sound in Miami, Dallas and Minneapolis. iPhone users are in the lucky minority as this app is iPhone exclusive. We expect to see Android and Blackberry apps in the near future although there is no confirmation at this time.

Does a location-based shopping app excite you? Small business owners, is this an app you would add to your marketing strategy? Meet us in the comments section with your thoughts.

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