Shopkick is an app, which will be available in the next few weeks on the iPhone and later for other kinds of phones, that retailers can use to track when shoppers have entered a store and reward them with points or discounts.
The other apps use cellphones’ GPS signals. That means that someone could stand on a street corner and check in to a place to earn points without ever setting foot inside. Foursquare’s new automatic check-in service, for instance, checks people in when they are within 300 meters of a location.
“Check-ins are a really nice start, but unfortunately, most of them are fake,” said Cyriac Roeding, a founder of Shopkick.
But users of the other services say they are encouraged to check-in to where they actually are, since the point is to alert friends to their location.
Still, Shopkick wants to reassure retailers that they are only rewarding actual customers.
Instead of relying on GPS or Wi-Fi signals, Shopkick installs small devices in stores that send out an inaudible noise. Cellphones with the Shopkick app pick it up with their microphones.
No more bogus Foursquare / Gowalla / Yelp check ins?: Sounds good.
I actually get points I can use across several online and offline brands, including making charity donations: good. It’s only on the iPhone: not so great, but it’ll likely work on Android soon I’d guess. There aren’t enough retailers to make it a must have: also not good – especially here in Canada – but maybe one day Shopkick will arrive in Vancouver…