ShopKick Impressions

If you haven’t heard of ShopKick yet, don’t worry it just launched today, but I have a feeling you’ll be hearing about it a lot more in the coming months. Basically what it is is a location based reward program where you get points for going to certain places and doing certain things (mostly scanning items). If it sounds a lot like Foursquare, that’s because it is, but with one huge difference, you don’t check in at places. The participating locations have a device installed near the doors that emits a sound that we can’t hear, but the iPhone can, so when you enter the store with the app open it will automatically “check you in” and award you the points for visiting the store. Once inside the store there are other ways to gain points, like scanning different products. I’m not sure what their plan is for other ways to gain points, but at the moment it looked like scanning was the only way (at least at Best Buy). And the point of all this is that once you gain enough points you can redeem them for different rewards, whether it’s credits on facebook or gift cards to different stores. There are a handful of options right now and I’m sure that will grow in the future. So that’s the gist of the service itself now let’s talk about my experience with it today.

Chicago happens to be one of the markets were the devices have been placed in Best Buy stores around the area. Today was the first day that the service has been activated along with the app becoming available in the App Store this morning. It just so happens that we venture out to Best Buy every Tuesday during lunch to check out the new releases and kill some time away from the office, so it was a perfect chance to test out ShopKick and see what it’s all about.

The app itself is very pretty, the graphics look nice and it works as you would expect it to. It finds your location and finds different stores in the area that you can either check in to the normal way and gain “non-reward” points that basically just level you up in the game (kind of like MyTown), as well as stores that are participating that you can go to and get points for walking in the door and scanning stuff. With app in hand we made our way over to Best Buy to try it out.

As we approached the front doors I launched the app as I wasn’t sure if the app needed to be running in the foreground (I’m pretty sure it does) to pick up the sound that the in-store device is emitting. The phone didn’t register the sound at the exact moment we walked in, but it picked it up while we were still close to the front of the store. My co-worker also signed up as we were in the store and the first time he launched it after verifying his account, it picked up that we were in the store and automatically awarded him the 75 points. So it seems like you don’t have to remember as you walk into the store as long as you launch the app at some point during your visit, and if you’re going to be scanning stuff you’ll have it open anyways.

Now let’s talk about the scanning of products to get bonus points. For Best Buy there were 5 featured items that you could find in the store and scan for bonus points. I only went through and found 2 of them because I didn’t really feel like rummaging through the store with my phone out looking like a jackass… And actually that’s kind of what I felt like as I was grabbing a Blu-Ray of The Bank Job and scanning the UPC with my phone. Ok, actually the Blu-Ray wasn’t terrible, but I did feel awkward as I grabbed a box for a set of computer speakers and flipped it around to scan the UPC. So while I found the scanning to be a little weird, it definitely makes you walk around the store and look at stuff you wouldn’t normally look at.

So the App itself works very well for everything that it is supposed to and I managed to rack up almost 200 points in one visit to Best Buy today. I’m still a little foggy on how many points I’m going to have to get in order to redeem them for a decent size gift card. The app says the Best Buy Gift Card is 500+ points and denominations start at $2, so that would lead me to believe that it’s 500 points for $2… so while it’s not the greatest reward I’m not spending money on anything so it’s basically money for free. So we’ll see how it goes over the next few weeks after it’s been out for a bit and if there are any changes I’ll let you know, but as of right now I’ll continue using the service to see how many points I can build up and see if it’s actually worth the time.