Best Buy trials support for Shopkick iPhone app in 187 stores

As of today, Best Buy has started testing out support for Shopkick at 187 of its retail locations in San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York with another 70 in Dallas, Minneapolis, and Miami coming online by October 1. Basically, it's a location-based shopping app that hooks its users up with personalized deals and rewards based on store check-ins -- nothing novel -- but what makes Shopkick unique is how they determine your location: instead of using GPS, the app listens for a "Shopkick signal" emitted from speakers inside the store that's apparently inaudible to human ears. Presumably, they've set it up that way to make it harder to "check in" from outside the store without having to waltz in and pretend like you're interested in buying something -- but naturally, we like to believe that the signal is actually subliminally convincing you to buy countless Dyson Balls, Air Multipliers, and Black Crowes box sets. Follow the break for the press release.

[Thanks, Bob]

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Best Buy to launch location-based retail experiment in 257 U.S. stores

San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Jose, New York City, Chicago markets first to provide rewards, offers to consumers walking into Best Buy stores via "shopkick" mobile phone app; Dallas, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Miami to follow by Oct. 1

MINNEAPOLIS, August 16 – Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE: BBY), a leading retailer of consumer electronics, has announced it plans to bring a location-based retail experiment, using the "shopkick" mobile application rewards system, to 257 U.S. stores by October 1. Best Buy will examine the ways in-store shoppers value and redeem offers and rewards through their smart phones.

Under the current plans, the "shopkick" system will be functional by August 17 in 187 Best Buy stores in the San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Jose, New York City, Chicago markets, with an additional 70 stores in Dallas, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Miami markets launched by Oct. 1.

"We think consumers have more opportunities than ever to bridge their digital and physical shopping experiences, particularly through smart phones and mobile technology," said Matthew Smith, vice president, marketing services, Best Buy. "We intend to explore ways we can use the power of location-based technology to personalize a Best Buy shopping experience, from check-in to check-out, with rewards and offers delivered right on a customer's smart phone."

How it works

A Best Buy customer can choose to download the free "shopkick" mobile application for their smart phone. (The "shopkick" app for iPhone will be available first, coming soon to the App Store, and followed by apps for Android-based smart phones.) Then the "shopkick" app is open on the customer's phone, it detects the "shopkick Signal" technology installed in the participating Best Buy store as the customer walks through the door. The customer then instantly receives rewards, called "kickbucks," which can be accrued over time, then redeemed in the store or converted into Best Buy certificates through a user's shopkick account.

Additionally, Best Buy has integrated shopkick directly into its point of sale system to streamline the redemption of special in-store offers and/or added bonuses for scanning barcodes of specific products, all of which will be sent to the user's phone. Customers may walk up to the cashier, provide the mobile phone number connected to their shopkick account, and any applicable personalized discounts immediately appear on their receipt.

Unlike traditional GPS location-based services that require a shopper to "check in," and offer an accuracy radius of 100 to 1,000 yards (within a block or two), the "shopkick Signal" technology requires no consumer check in and detects that a user is truly present in the retail location. And because the detection occurs on the consumer's phone, the privacy of presence information is completely under the user's control.

Best Buy intends to run a series of promotions and offers through the stores participating in the experiment, as variables to determine how much customers value the experience.