Commentary

Shopkick Beacons: 25 Big Retailers, 300 Brands

Sensors are the source of a much of the juice of the Internet of Things.

One of major forms of sensors in the world of retail has been the beacon, that little radio transmitting piece of technology that can trigger various actions in a smartphone that comes near it.

Shopkick, the in-store shopping rewards app, was one of the first in the market with that type of sensor at scale, by deploying ultrasound technology that sent a signal to a smartphone entering a store, which activates the Shopkick app. That was before beacons, though it did essentially the same thing that beacons do, which Shopkick now incorporates.

I’ve been using Shopkick for about five years now as well as monitoring its evolution in the marketplace, mainly to gauge customer behaviors.

Others had been watching as well, since Shopkick was acquired by SK Planet, part of SK Telecom, South Korea’s largest mobile carrier, for $200 million just a year ago, as I wrote about here at the time (Shopkick Bought for $200 Million).

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At that time, Shopkick had a customer base of 8 million and deals with 20 retailers and 200 brands, Shopkick CEO and co-founder Cyriac Roeding told me then.

I just got a note from Roeding with updated stats now a year after the purchase.

In the what-a-difference-a-year-makes department, Shopkick has about doubled its customer base to past 15 million users globally, now has 25 retail partners and 300 brands.

And these are not the mom-and-pop variety. They include Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Kraft and Pepsi. Its retailers include Macy’s, Best Buy, American Eagle, Sports Authority and JCPenney.

Part of the intent of the acquisition was to add resource for international expansion, which it looks like Shopkick has done.

Roeding says that shoppers who use Shopkick make 26% more purchases than those without it, in stores that have the beacons. He said more than half (52%) of sales are incremental.

Like coupon app RetailMeNot, Shopkick sends a message to a consumer who nears a Shopkick-enabled store. The customer gets points, called kicks, for walking in as well as for scanning certain items suggested by the app. The kicks can be redeemed at any of the participating retailers.

Shopkick now has deployed more than 20,000 of them into more than 14,000 large stores.

And that’s a lot of IoT juice.

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