Don’t close the door on brick-and-mortar stores just yet

May 25, 2012
Shine

You know what the hardest part about shopping is? Getting in the store. Spending money, even if you don’t have a lot of it, is crazy easy. Giving me even the slightest push to purchase a product, like offering a 10 percent off coupon, which barely even covers the sales tax, is often all it […]

You know what the hardest part about shopping is? Getting in the store. Spending money, even if you don’t have a lot of it, is crazy easy. Giving me even the slightest push to purchase a product, like offering a 10 percent off coupon, which barely even covers the sales tax, is often all it takes to get me to go from red to green on a purchasing decision. I recently pre-ordered NCAA Football 2013 at an online retailer just because they were offering a deal to get the game for $15 off retail, even though if I waited and bought it used in six months, it’d probably be even cheaper than that. But the deal was too good to pass up. I am a sucker, and apps like Shopkick were made for me.

That’s because Shopkick doesn’t just throw a bunch of coupons onto a screen and call it a day. That would be boring, and it wouldn’t solve the problem I outlined above, where I have zero desire to set foot inside of a store. Shopkick turns my aversion into a game. Like foursquare meets Supermarket Sweep, I am compensated with points that can be redeemed later for actual goods just by entering stores. Simply stepping through some electronic sliding doors now gets me one step closer to a free Starbucks latte, or Best Buy gift card. Well, heck yeah, I’m going to do it.

The points keep coming after you’re in the store, too, because retailers need you to stay in the store. So you can scan a handful of items at each of the Shopkick-friendly locations and get points for that, too. Go find the fresh bread, or the hot dogs, or the new Samsung TV. Grab it, put it in your hands, scan it! Consider, possibly, maybe, buying it. That’s a savvy game plan. The more time I’m surrounded by things I could conceivably want to own, the likelier I am going to be to accidentally buy one of them.

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Already Shopkick counts big boys like Macy’s, Best Buy, Toys”R”Us and Old Navy among its retail partners, and just the other day it added a very big fish to its pond – Target. You know how many times a half-way grown man could find himself at Target in a given week? They have food, electronics, clothes, stuff for the home … sometimes it’s hard to leave without getting “points.” And now I’ll be walking around scanning stuff with my iPhone like some confused checkout clerk because I love the idea of getting something for nothing.

Online retailers have had brick-and-mortar stores in a panic because they can’t match the deep discounts with little overhead that a place like Amazon can provide customers. But Shopkick and other apps like it could go a long way towards letting “real” stores hang on a bit longer. Give me a reason to leave the pants-free comfort of my home and enter your establishment, and I’ll run around scanning things and probably even spend a buck or two. After all, I’ve always wanted to be on Supermarket Sweep.

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Dan Kricke

Dan Kricke has been playing with electronics and writing about them for years. He loved his Sega Dreamcast and now the PlayStation 3. On the iPhone, he's a fan of sports apps and anything that offers new music.

 

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