Shopkick & the Arc from Couch to Store

It’s been three and half years since Shopkick hit the market and both the in-store shopping rewards app has evolved with the market.

I sat down with Cyriac Roeding, CEO and co-founder of Shopkick, this week to catch up with what they’ve learned about consumer shopping behavior since the app was launched.

The bottom line?  “Consumers like the store more and they buy more,” says Roeding. “Shopkick has reached the top spot among all the shopping apps and now has more active users than the Starbucks app.”

As any of the six million Shopkick users know, consumers receive rewards called Kicks for walking into a store. This is triggered by an audio sign at the entrance to store that only the phone hears. The kicks can be redeemed at a number of well-known stores.

After some early tech bumps and grinds, to which I can attest as an early Shopkick user, the app maker improved so that the technology works and many of the people at checkout now understand how to cash in the rewards.

“The core tenants are Target, Macy’s, Best Buy, American Eagle, Sports Authority and Old Navy,” says Roeding. “Redemption rates are very high.

“The app holds the top spot in the time spent in the app of all shopping apps. That’s two and half hours a month.”

Roeding sees Shopkick as sort of a mobile version of a mall.

“People are not going to download 40 different apps for stores,” says Roeding. “There needs to be the equivalent of a mall, and we created that mall. All we’re doing is letting those retailers shine in our app.”

The company also found that a higher percentage of its users are walking into stores now compared to a year ago.

And, they spend more money, bringing incremental sales for the participating retailers.

Over time, Roeding says consumer behavior changed.

“We figured out that our app was being used nine out of 30 days a month and six of those nine were outside of the store,” says Roeding.

“Consumers were trying to find things at home, which led to Shopkick 3.0, which includes large photos, which didn’t exist a year ago. People were looking at five to eight products a session. Now they’re looking at over 100. People are preparing their next shopping trip.”

As a result of those findings, Shopkick created what it calls the idea of an arc from couch to store.

“You sit on the couch and you identify products that you like and then you like them and, guess where they show up again?” says Roeding. “Right at the entrance to the store when you get your kicks.

“It actually says ‘welcome, Chuck and here are some things you liked.’ It knows what you’re more and less interested in. It’s a walk-in reward, not a walk around reward.”

Like many mobile startups, consumer adoption and acceptance are a challenge in addition to developing and perfecting the back-end technology.

“Our ultimate goal is to create an enormously simple experience,” sayd Roeding. “In order to make it simple, you have to increase the complexity in the back. That’s the journey we’re on.

“We’re working on the fine tuning of all these geo-fencing messages. Getting the context right is one of the future Holy Grails in mobile shopping. And the contextual piece is 100 percent of our focus.”

And millions of mobile shoppers will get kicks out of that.

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