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Best Buy tests location-based mobile app to analyze consumer shopping habits

August 17, 2010

best-buyBest Buy is introducing a location-based retail experiment that examines the way in-store shoppers redeem offers and rewards via their mobile device.

Consumers who walk in a Best Buy store will receive offers via the shopkick iPhone application. The experiment will take place in 257 United States stores.

“We’re looking at how we continue to bridge the physical and digital retailer experiences,” said Kelly Groehler, senior manager or corporate public relations at Best Buy, Minneapolis. “We already know that people will research online before they come in-stores.

“We chose to do this experiment because your phone will detect the technology in the store,” she said. “We thought it was a good concept – we want to be really smart about how we approach this and whether it’s worth the time and investment on our end.”

Best Buy is a specialty retailer of consumer electronics in the United States accounting for about 20 percent of the market.

Mobile shopkick
The shopkick mobile initiative is present in 187 Best Buy stores in the San Franicsco, Los Angeles, San Jose, New York City and Chicago markets.

There will also be an additional 70 stores in Dallas, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Miami markets launched by Oct. 1.

“We’re getting the word out through in-store signage and we’re doing this cross-promotionally with loyalty customers,” Ms. Groehler said.

How it works
After consumers download the application, they can stop by any participating Best Buy store and the application will detect the shopkick signal technology.

The consumer then receives rewards – called kickbucks – which can be accrued over time, then redeemed in the store or converted into Best Buy certificates via a user’s shopkick account.

Best Buy plans to run a series of promotions and offers via the stores participating in the experiement to determine how much consumers value the experience.

Additionally, the application for Android-based devices will debut soon.

“The mobile phone is the only device people take with them everywhere, and it can turn physical retail stores into interactive worlds — enhancing the shopping experience for consumers, and offering a direct channel of communication for retailers with their customers,” said Cyriac Roeding, founder/CEO of shopkick, San Francisco.

“It’s important to distinguish from vicinity-based location technology that depends on GPS and has an error radius of 100-1,000 yards,” he said. “It solves a fundamental marketing problem for the first time — it tells retailers when a shopper is actually inside their store and allows them to reward them for visiting – simply for walking through the door.”

Final Take
Rimma Kats, editorial assistant at Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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