August 16, 2010, 3:46 PM

Best Buy kicks up its rewards program

The retailer will begin using location-based mobile technology for offers on smartphones.

Bill Siwicki

Managing Editor, Mobile Commerce

Lead Photo

Best Buy Co. Inc. will begin a mobile experiment tomorrow, bringing the location-based shopkick mobile app rewards system to 187 U.S. stores, with an additional 70 locations to get the system by Oct. 1. Best Buy, which operates 1,089 stores nationwide, will examine the ways in-store shoppers value and redeem offers and rewards through their smartphones.

“We think consumers have more opportunities than ever to bridge their digital and physical shopping experiences, particularly through smartphones and mobile technology,” says Matthew Smith, Best Buy vice president of marketing services. “We intend to explore ways we can use the power of location-based technology to personalize a Best Buy shopping experience, from check-in to checkout, with rewards and offers delivered right on a customer’s smartphone.”

A Best Buy customer using a smartphone running the iPhone or Android operating systems can download the free mobile app created by shopkick. When the shopkick app is open on the customer’s phone, it detects shopkick’s signal technology installed in the participating Best Buy stores as the customer walks through the door. The customer instantly receives rewards, called “kickbucks,” which can be accrued over time, then redeemed in the store or converted into Best Buy certificates through a user’s shopkick account.

Additionally, Best Buy, No. 10 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, has integrated shopkick directly into its point-of-sale system to streamline the redemption of special in-store offers and added bonuses for scanning bar codes of promoted products via the app. The retailer will send  those offers to the consumer’s phone. Customers may walk up to the cashier, provide the mobile phone number connected to their shopkick account, and have any applicable personalized discounts immediately deducted from what they owe on their purchases.

Unlike many other GPS location-based services, shopkick’s technology requires doesn’t require a consumer to check in. Instead it detects that a user is present in the retail location, Best Buy says. The privacy of location information is completely under the user’s control—he chooses whether to allow location information to be used.

Best Buy intends to run a series of promotions and offers through the stores participating in the experiment as variables to determine how much customers value the experience.

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