November 4, 2010, 3:30 PM

CheckPoints entices shoppers to check out products

CheckPoints’ iPhone app offers rewards for entering stores and scanning items.

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A new shopping rewards app has joined the fray. CheckPoints LLC has launched a bar code scanning iPhone app that rewards consumers for entering stores and scanning Universal Product Code, or UPC, bar codes on various items. 12-digit UPC bar codes contain information on an individual item. Scanning items delivers small rewards such as coupons, games and recipes, and doles out additional points shoppers can put toward bigger prizes including gift cards and airline miles.

“Just walk into any store that has products—the electronics store, grocery store or pharmacy—and earn rewards just for checking them out,” says Mark DiPaola, CEO and co-founder of CheckPoints.

Shoppers out and about can open the CheckPoints app on their smartphones and the app uses GPS detection to recognize a consumer’s location and show her stores she can enter to nab rewards points. Once in a store, CheckPoints shows shoppers the various items—including ones from Tyson Foods, Energizer and environmentally friendly cleaning line Seventh Generation—they can scan and how many points each scan offers. Shoppers can also share tips with other CheckPoints members via Facebook and Twitter and refer friends to the app for more points. Once they’ve garnered enough points, consumers can cash in their rewards for gift cards to retailers such as Amazon.com, CVS and GameStop; for miles on Alaska Airlines; for electronics such as a Nintendo Wii and iPhones; and for donations to charities including The Breast Cancer Research Foundation or The Humane Society.

CheckPoints, which soon plans to launch a comparable app for smartphones using Google Inc.’s Android operating system, follows other recent rewards apps such as shopkick and Scvngr.

Similar to CheckPoints, consumers using shopkick open the app to view a list of nearby stores where they can “Check in,” which just requires they move near a store. Check-ins garner a couple of rewards points—what shopkick calls kickbucks—which users can cash in for gift cards or music downloads, or to make donations to a charity.

A shopkick shopper gets more points when she steps into a store, which shopkick calls a “Walk in,” with the shopkick app open on her phone. Once a retailer knows through shopkick that a shopper is in a store, it can entice her with special discounts and offers, let her know about items on sale, or shell out more kickbucks to encourage actions that typically lead to a sale. For example, shoppers might enter a dressing room and scan a poster for an additional 35 kickbucks. Unlike CheckPoints, which uses GPS, shopkick recognizes a shopper has entered a store through special signal transmitters that a retailer deploys in its stores that send out an inaudible signal picked up by an iPhone’s microphone and then by the shopkick app.

The main difference between shopkick and CheckPoints is that CheckPoints focuses on partnerships with brands. Shopkick does work with brands, such as Kraft and Proctor & Gamble, but more heavily emphasizes its partnerships with stores via its precise "Walk in" detection capabilities.

“CheckPoints’ focus is on partnering with products, so the app is available for use literally in millions of retail locations across the U.S.,” a CheckPoints spokeswoman says.  If the retailer carries products from CheckPoints partners, and those products have bar codes, the app will work, she says.

CheckPoints was founded this summer with a $1 million investment by online advertising veterans and co-founders Mark and Todd DiPaola. Shopkick is one of the earliest and biggest players in the mobile rewards app space; it received $5 million in initial funding in 2009 and an additional $15 million in July in an investment round led by Greylock partners and supported by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Citi Growth Ventures & Innovation Group, and Silicon Valley angel investment firm SV Angel. Shopkick works with such retailers as Macy’s and Best Buy.

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