August 11, 2010, 11:29 AM

Shoe retailer Journeys steps into location-based mobile marketing

Journeys is the first retailer to deploy the Scvngr location-based mobile app.

Lead Photo

Shoe retailer Journeys is working with location-based mobile app Scvngr in hopes of getting more consumers to step through its doors and pull out their pocketbooks

Shoppers can go to any of Journeys’ more than 800 stores, virtually check in and complete challenges via a Scvngr app on their Apple iPhone or a smartphone that uses Google Inc.’s Android operating system. 20 points earned through the challenges gets consumers $10 off their next purchase at any Journeys store, says Kari Irons, director of marketing for retailer operations at Genesco Inc., Journeys’ parent company.

Challenges include: “Pick the shoes you’d rock on your favorite skateboard, snap a pic and you’ve scored 5 points” and “Give yourself an A+ in style by taking a photo of the accessory you want most this upcoming school year, boom, another 5 points.”

Journeys is the first retailer to work with the Scvngr Inc. mobile app and game platform, Irons says, and as the inaugural merchant, it gets to use the program for free.

“We both saw a lot of value in collaborating, so as Scvngr’s first national partner there was no fee,” Irons says. “Journeys has aggressively been promoting the relationship via in-store signage and TV networks, our web site, e-mails and our catalog. And all of our employees are promoting the relationshipas well.” Moving forward, any business owner will be able to create and manage their own games and rewards using the Scvngr app, Scvngr says. The first 50 businesses in the first 10 markets will get to use Scvngr for free. After that, the start-up will charge $500 to $1,000 a year for a rewards pack for local businesses.

Journeys says it launched the program to find new and innovative ways to reach its core consumers. “Working with Scvngr has been a great way to leverage the smartphone,  important to our young and hip consumers, and a way to continue to engage them with our brand,” Irons says. “Connecting our bricks-and-mortar stores to a location-based mobile game platform adds an exciting layer to our store environment, and also serves as yet another way for our employees to interact with our customers on a deeper level.”

Because the Journeys campaign just launched, it’s too early to gauge results, Irons says. “At this point we’re most excited about getting consumers discovering and interacting with the technology,” she says. In the near future, Scvngr will begin to share analytics data with Journeys, including the amounts and types of the challenges completed in Journeys stores, and where the coupons are being downloaded, Irons says.

While the Scvngr service is free to Journeys, retailers may want to think twice before spending too much of their marketing dollars on such location-based apps, a recent report from research and advisory firm Forrester Research Inc. says. According to Forrester, only 4% of U.S. online adults have ever used location-based apps on their mobile phones, with only 1% using them more than once a week.

“The biggest vendors in the space may boast fast growth numbers, but registered users are still a drop in the bucket compared with the number of consumers reached with tactics like SMS, mobile search, or display media on WAP sites,” the study says. WAP stands for wireless access protocol, a standard language for creating mobile web sites. SMS stands for short message service, which typically is in the form of a text message.

However, the users of such apps are influential. Geolocation mobile app users are 38% more likely than the average U.S. online adult to say that friends and family ask their opinions before making a purchase decision, Forrester reports.

Another retailer that has tested the concept is apparel and accessories merchant Diesel, which sent a one-day promotion to users of foursquare, a geolocation check-in app, when the recipients were within a three-block radius of the retailer’s Union Square store in New York City. The results of the Diesel campaign were modest. Forty-four people who received the promotion checked in, Forrester says.

Still, geolocation apps have attracted attention and dollars recently. For example, another start-up app, shopkick, last month landed $15 million. Scvngr is funded by Google Ventures, Highland Capital Partners, DreamIT Ventures and Bantam Group.

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