In the Spotlight: Shopkick

Photo credit: qnr on Flickr.

On July 6, 2011, the shopping app, Shopkick, passed the 2 million active user mark. That’s pretty impressive, considering the fact that it has been less than a year since they first made the app available to the public.

With Shopkick, consumers can earn points, or as they call them, kicks, for performing tasks like walking into a store or scanning items with their smartphones. The kicks can be redeemed for products at participating retail stores.

The growth of this app is definitely good news for retailers, brands and consumers.

The Benefit to Retailers

With the current economic downturn, anything that can bring consumers into their stores is a blessing for most retailers.

According to the article, “Shopkick Uses the Sound of Rewards to Bring Smartphone Owners into Bricks-and-Mortar Stores,” on, Shopkick’s CEO, Cyriac Roeding, says that retail stores will do almost anything to get people into their stores because conversion rates at bricks-and-mortar stores are very high.

Roeding says that about 20 percent of shoppers end up buying something when they visit bricks-and-mortar clothing stores. The conversion rate at bricks-and-mortar grocery stores is even higher; he says that about 95 percent of shoppers who visit bricks-and-mortar grocery stores make a purchase. In comparison, he says that the conversion rates for most e-commerce sites range from between 0.5 percent to 3 percent.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that retailers would welcome any technology that can help get consumers away from their computers and into their stores. That’s where Shopkick can help.

The current version of the Shopkick app allows consumers to see some of the featured items and discounts that are currently being offered at their favorite retailers. From time to time, consumers are also alerted to limited-time offers from select merchants. This alone will help get consumers into the stores.

However, that’s only the beginning.

As mentioned, consumers can earn kicks that can be redeemed for products from participating retail stores by completing certain tasks.

When they open the app, users will find a tab with a list of nearby stores with a green bubble next to the name of each store listed. Some of the stores have a green bubble with a number listed inside them. When users tap the bubbles with numbers inside them, they earn the assigned number of kicks and are shown additional deals that are available from that store. (Note: If users tap bubbles without numbers inside them, they don’t earn any kicks. However, they are still shown additional deals from those stores, if there are any.)

Another way for users to earn kicks is via the walk-in reward feature.

Using a device that sends data via sound waves that are above the range of human hearing to a smartphone with the Shopkick app running, participating stores are able to enable Shopkick users to activate the reward of the day. Because the sound waves can’t escape the building, users need to be physically in the store to receive the kicks. Thus, Shopkick is helping retailers increase foot traffic.

The Benefit to Brands

Once inside a participating store, Shopkick users can earn additional kicks by scanning in product bar codes with their smartphones.

Think about it, not only does Shopkick show users featured items and discounts that are available at stores, it also gives them an incentive to go to the bricks-and-mortar locations to earn kicks. Then, when inside the store, they can earn additional kicks for scanning in the bar codes on certain products.

Having customers scan in the bar code forces them to interact with the product. In the process of scanning in the bar code, customers are required to look at the item up close. In some cases, customers are even forced to pick the item up in order to find the bar code on the side of the bottle or package. And, once the product is actually in the customer’s hand, it makes it easier for them to put it in their shopping cart.

As an added bonus, after customers scan in products at a grocery store, they are often shown recipes that require the item that they just scanned in. This gives them another reason to make an impulse buy as a result of Shopkick.

In an article, titled “The Power of Velveeta: Shopkick Announces 3 Million Product Scans,” posted in February, 2011, on, Ed Kaczmarek, director of innovation at Kraft Foods, says, “If we can bring our brands front and center while the consumer is in the store, it’s almost like having a billboard in front of them while they’re considering what to purchase.” He goes on to say that Shopkick has been at least as effective as other social media programs that Kraft has done in the last few years.

The Benefit to Consumers

As mentioned, Shopkick gives consumers information about discounts at their favorite retailers. It also allows them to earn kicks at multiple stores and spend them at any of the participating retailers, not just the ones where they earned the kicks.

Furthermore, if they are feeling altruistic, Shopkick users can donate their kicks to a wide range of causes including those that help fight breast cancer, provide disaster relief, help care for abused animals or help deliver free vaccines, just to name a few.

In the previously mentioned article, Cyriac Roeding says, “Our vision is to transform shopping into a more personal, rewarding, and fun experience for everyone. We hope to make stores into interactive worlds where consumers are exploring in a completely new way. Shopping should be something you are not dreading but enjoying, and until we have managed to make that possible, we will not rest.”

I think that they’re off to a good start. What do you think?

Chad Thiele

Chad Thiele

I am a marketing analyst and strategist. I earned my master's degree from West Virginia University in Integrated Marketing Communications in 2023. I also hold a bachelor's degree from UW-Madison in Sociology with a Concentration in Analysis and Research, and I completed the Mobile Marketing Professional Certificate Program from Auburn University in 2015.