updated 06:00 pm EDT, Tue August 17, 2010
Shopkick one-ups Foursquare with real apps
Bay Area startup shopkick today launched its self-titled iPhone app (free, App Store) in a bid to upstage Foursquare and other location check-in rivals. The service uses GPS to detect when it's within range of a given store and will automatically send a "signal" to a device in the store itself to let it know when the user is close. Shoppers then get credits, or kickbucks, for visiting the store that they can ultimately roll into actual discounts, even if they haven't necessarily bought items during the earlier trips.
The app can even give extra kickbucks for actions at specific stores, such as scanning items with the phone camera at Best Buy or through testing products at Sports Authority. Credits are store-independent and can be converted directly into Facebook credit to buy real items beyond the stores. Outside of stores using shopkick receivers, users will still have the option of checking in at stores teamed up with the service.
Use of shopkick is currently active in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco at American Eagle Outfitters, Best Buy, Macy's, chains connected to Simon Property Group and Sports Authority. The first month will expand the reach to 100 malls and 600 stores as well as bring in Chicago. More cities are due in the near future.
No mention has been made of versions for Android, BlackBerry or other common mobile platforms.
Location services such as Foursquare and Gowalla have been popular in recent months but have until now usually considered the financial component secondary. Stores often have to solicit Foursquare themselves to publicize their discounts. None of them outside of shopkick have had detection hardware and also risked users gaming the system by checking in without stepping inside.