Apps Let Shoppers Check In, Scan Items For Discounts


For everyone who’s gotten to the front of the grocery store checkout line only to realize their carefully-clipped coupons are still stuck to the fridge at home, two free new mobile apps are here to solve your woes, and let you access discounts all the time.  First there’s Shopkick, which sends its users deals at a specific store as soon as they check into one of its locations. Then there’s Stickybits, which allows consumers to use their phone and scan any item’s barcode to find potential discounts.

Two’s a trend: follow the candy-colored neo-Pokemon mascots to mobile discount apps.

Both apps were discussed at an online shopping panel at this year’s South by Southwest Interactive, but they’re not really “online shopping” — both are predicated on a shopper’s entering a physical store.  Shopkick has teamed up with a number of national retailers — Best Buy, Macy’s, and Target, to name a few — to offer deals to shoppers as soon as they visit those stores and check in through the app.  Users also collect points, or “kickbucks,” for both checking in and for scanning the barcodes of eligible in-store items (the app points them toward items that are eligible).  Kickbucks are redeemable for various loot, ranging from an iTunes gift card to a flatscreen television — or they can be turned into a donation to one of thirty pre-selected charities. The system is reminiscent of deals retailers have struck with Foursquare — check in to our store on Foursquare, and we’ll offer you an exclusive discount. (The king of check-in apps also announced a deal at SXSW with American Express to give shoppers $5 back on their Amex statement when they check into certain stores.)

The Stickybits app, meanwhile, is based entirely on scanning.  Mobile phone users can scan barcode, which then prompts reviews of the item they’re scanning (to which they can add their own), discounts on that item, or related freebies.  Scanning the barcode of a ski jacket, for example, might yield free lift tickets at a nearby mountain in addition to information on the jacket’s fit and warmth.

Naturally, both apps encourage and reward repeat use.  With each, the more shoppers check in or scan products, the better their chance of winning big-ticket items or getting better discounts.  It’s beginning to make Groupon look a little like a static, lumbering dinosaur, isn’t it?

One Response to “Apps Let Shoppers Check In, Scan Items For Discounts”

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