How shopkick Exposed My Social Retail Wounds
I feel like a fraud, a quack. There is a blemish on my license to practice social medicine, and I have to make a confession before we go any further. My problem is that I love the idea of retail apps and gadgets, but I'm afraid to actually use them in stores. If I'm scared, (and I'm a professional!) how do retail apps and gadgets stand a chance of really catching on?
A quick example: I got a nifty gadget at CEA Line Shows in New York last year called the MoBeam nümi key. The keychain-sized gadget stores all of your loyalty cards, so you can just carry it around and point it into the cashier's scanner when you check out. I loaded up my CVS and ShopRite cards, and then I never ever used it. This is not any reflection on the gadget -it's not you, it's me. I can't help but picture the cashier looking at me like I'm crazy while I try to explain that this gadget is legitimate, with 20 angry people behind me waiting in line.
I don't like to assume the worst so I decided I was going to go to my local Best Buy and try out the shopkick app. Shopkick is a location-based app for your phone that allows you to check-in at participating stores and scan products to earn points called kickbucks. The kickbucks can be redeemed for discounts and prizes. I'd been interested in shopkick since I first heard of it, and with the rising popularity of location-based services like foursquare and Facebook Places, I thought it would be interesting to try one specifically for retail.
I gathered myself, walked in the door, and asked the greeter if he knew how I could use shopkick. Well I was wrong; he didn't look at me like I was crazy. Instead he looked at me like I had just said something absolutely terrifying. I assured him it was nothing to worry about, and proceeded into the store.
I found a BlueShirt further into the store and asked if he knew how to use the app. He had never heard of it, but was able to bring me over to a group of employees who quickly dispersed out of fear and confusion. One said he had tried the app in Atlanta, and offered to look my number up on the system to see if they had any record of it, but nothing came up. No one was sure if it was live in their store yet, I'm pretty sure it wasn't.
I don't mean to rip anybody here, I actually enjoyed what was able to see of shopkick, and the Best Buy employees were as helpful as could be expected considering most of them had never heard of the app I was asking about. However, the experience completely reinforced my fears about trying apps and gadgets in stores. If I was a regular shopper, and not a blogger, would I be willing to try the next app or promotion that comes along?
Hopefully one of you out there is willing to talk me down. Please convince me that my fear is a product of my own neuroses and not an actual issue to worry about. Has anyone had success with retail related apps and gadgets? Has anyone experienced failure and rejection? I'd like to believe that any retailer with a great idea for a social media promotion or an app or gadget that makes shopping more interactive, can succeed, but there is certainly more work to be done. Maybe raising awareness of the issue can start us on a path toward the cure.