Lauren Goode, writing forAllThingsD.com:
What would it take for you to shop in stores these days, rather than buy from the comfort of your couch? Some companies are betting that smartphones can help lure you back to the mall by offering rewards, coupons and other incentives that can only be earned when you’re physically in a store.
This is an interesting article on mobile rewards apps for brick-and-mortar stores. Goode covers the basics of two apps (ShopKick and Kapture) that encourage users to visit stores, scan items, or share product and business-related posts on their social networks in order to earn rewards such as discounts and freebies.
This is an area of increasing interest for traditional retailers. Every business, of course, wants to find new ways to increase customer engagement (and thus increase revenue). This type of rewards-based engagement is another way that physical stores can help combat the effects of lower-priced Internet-based competition such as Amazon.com. This is also intended to reduce the amount of 'showrooming' that is plaguing the brick-and-mortar industry.
The idea is to get customers to not just simply visit the store to see a product first-hand (and later make their purchase online), but instead to see the other products available at the retailer's location that can be added to their shopping cart. The addition of rewards and perks helps to not only minimize the cost advantages of Internet-based shopping, but also helps sway consumers to choose the immediate gratification offered by purchasing a product in a physical store.
It's worth noting that there have been some troubling developments in a similar space online. Lockerz.com, for example, was once the high-flying darling of the social engagement and rewards industry but recently laid off roughly 30 percent of its staff in its Seattle office and closed an office in San Diego. However, this is still a nascent and rapidly maturing industry. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.