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Good or Bad Thing? Location and Shopping Starting to Come Together With Shopkick

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Maybe it’s the way I shop. I usually know what I’m looking for when I head out on a shopping trip, make the purchase, and then occasionally do some looking around. I try to avoid up-selling, in-store promotions and the like, although I will occasionally fall victim to a spur of the moment purchase. And maybe, I’m just not that enamored of all the tracking that goes on with discount cards, rewards programs, and the like with retailers and other services. Although I know that’s been going on for quite some time and the current privacy debates about that sort of thing I think are all moot. But that’s me.

Others are staking big bets on location services and how they may eventually tie in with the shopping experience. We’ve all heard the dreams of being able to walk down a street and have a message pop up that tells us the store we’re approaching has a special deal just for us.

Well, it looks like we might soon find out how this possibly will or will not work. Best Buy (and a few others) are teaming up with Shopkick, and iPhone app, that is designed to automatically “check you in” when you enter the store and then provide you with deals that you hopefully can’t refuse. At Best Buy you also can earn reward points if you’re a member of that program.

My first thought when I read about Shopkick is that it would be using GPS in the way that other location services do, but apparently that’s not the case. Devices will be installed at the retailer that emit an audio signal that the Phone’s speaker phone will be able to pick up.

Best Buy looks like the first partner to go online with this, and there are others including Simon Malls.  It will be interesting to watch this unfold.

Warner Crocker is a professional theatre director, producer and playwright and also a Tablet PC enthusiast. He is also a Microsoft MVP for Tablet PCs. Send email to Warner. You can follow him on Twitter or Google+

3 Comments

  1. Tim

    08/17/2010 at 9:06 am

    Presumably the microphone picks up the audio signals, not the speakerphone?

    If it’s an audio signal, I imagine it won’t take long to get recordings of the signals online, so that you can preview the deals without going to the store.

  2. Chris Hickie

    08/17/2010 at 12:53 pm

    Now if you could use that new iphone video feature to talk to a sales rep when you can’t find a real one on the floor, that would be nice, too, at Best Buy.

    I wish someone had an app for when you go to IKEA. You need a gps in there, and once you get to the warehouse, having your phone tell you where all the boxed stuff is would be great.

  3. Mike

    08/17/2010 at 3:25 pm

    The fact is that such close scrutiny will provide better service to users as well as to marketers/sellers.

    I think some new concepts in privacy need to come forward.
    Namely – I don’t have a problem with marketing types keeping track of me as a unique individual, so long as I am not identified I think.
    That will be somewhat tricky, but not impossible.
    What I am saying is that I don’t care if they are aware of my attributes and even specific shopping habits (to a degree) and market to me along those lines.
    I just don’t want them to have my name/address/ss # (actual I.D. is what I’m saying) tied to that market persona in any way as far as they are concerned.

    I think this will give a good deal of benefit to all concerned but still give me a fine degree of privacy.

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