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Best Buy's New App Counts Shoppers With No Check In

Best Buy has started using mobile technology developed by shopkick, a Silicon Valley-based startup, at its store at 13th & Harrison in San Francisco. The app is a location-based service that rewards shoppers when they enter the store - without them having to check in.

Best Buy plans to introduce it in several additional markets in the coming weeks.

Shoppers will like it, shopkick says, because they can get rewarded for walking into a store without much effort. The retailers like it because it guarantees the user is truly present in the store - unlike traditional GPS location-based services that have an accuracy radius of 100 to 1,000 yards and can register shoppers when there are in parking lot or across the street.  Retailers also like it because they only pay shopkick for those consumers who walk into their stores with the shopkick app recognizing the in-store shopkick Signal system.

How It Works

Best Buy integrated [video] shopkick directly into its point of sale system in its San Francisco store. Consumers download the shopkick mobile application for their smart phones. When the shopkick app is open on the smart phone, it detects the signal technology installed in the retail location as the consumer walks through the door, and the shopper instantly receives rewards, called "kickbucks." Customers give the cashier the mobile phone number connected to their shopkick app, and any personalized discounts appear on their receipt.

kickbucks can be immediately redeemed for Facebook credits, songs from Napster, in-store cash-back rewards at shopkick partner stores, magazine subscriptions, or donations to charities.

The Future Is Here

Mark Cuban in his Maverick blog recently described such a scenario and what it would mean for retailers once the technology becomes widespread. He told of a company that takes video of an area and is able to determine exactly how many people are in the area at any given time. The next logical extension would be to install it in places where it is possible to add facial recognition software, he said - making it an ideal app for companies that are using check ins for their marketing and customer outreach.

"So rather than someone checking in to a specific application, we would already know you are there."

'Opt out' mechanisms would be necessary, he acknowledged, and there would probably be a battle "over whether or not a store or venue should be 'opt in' vs automated recognition, but that's not a software issue." The reality is this is the answer to the "the path of least resistance" issue with check-ins for location-based software, he continued. "Individuals never do any of the work. The store/host recognizes you are there and rewards you for allowing your identity and information to be captured and linked."

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