Friday, April 1, 2011

Start-Up Watch COD: Checkpoints takes check-in rewards to grocery, pharmacy, toy stores, electronics stores…

Thanks to ad:tech for publishing this first.

Yesterday I wrote about shopkick, one of the check-in apps that has been gathering significant retail and consumer attenton. Today, I want to tell you about another leader in this space: Checkpoints.

Checkpoints is an iPhone/Android app that lets a consumer check in at virtually any retail store, and earn points by locating and scanning items with their cell phone camera.

Advertisers can target offers at particular chains, markets, even individual stores. Once in the store, the app generates a list of products that can be scanned for points, organized by category. So, for example, a retailer could give me a discount at Safeway of a certain value, and a different discount at Lucky. Subject to fair trade laws, of course.

To give the app a test run I took it to my Safeway and fired it up. It confirmed my location in about 15 seconds, and then told me about 32 products I could scan for points. As a result, each of these products was very much in the forefront of my awareness. Checkpoints call this effect a “virtual endcap,” analogous in impact to an end aisle display.

Gotta tell you, I think the “virtual endcap™” is an apt description. Checkpoints got me to pick up (and buy) brands I don’t ordinarily consider, and introduced me to new SKUs from venerable brands I already purchase.

Here’s their official flick:

When you scan the item, the app gives you a special offer triggered by the scan. This could be a discount, a sweeps entry, an offer on a complementary product, or advice on which product might be ideal for the consumer’s needs. Thee app also offers the opportunity to deliver a FB update that you have scanned the item and gotten an offer.

To reward more frequent scanning, the app also offers a virtual coin redeemeable for special game play. For example, after I scanned Huggies, I got a free spin on a slot machine that earned me more points.

While the service is by no means limited to Grocery only, the system appears to be very well suited to CPG. At the time of this writing, there were scannable items from Unilever, Del Monte, Soy Joy, Energizer, Frito-Lay, Tyson, and others. They also offered points and discounts at specific retailers like Kmart. Certainly the well organized interface made the product VERY easy to use in an environment like a Food/Drug/Mass store with thousands of SKUs. They have many clients outside of CPG as well.

Checkpoints says it offers consumers check-ins at more than one million retail outlets. Points can be redeemed for gift cards, air miles, merchandise, and charitable donations.

Few doubt that we are going to be seeing a lot more activity in shopper marketing through the mobile phone. The ease of use and versatility of this application may drive strong success in the future. Getting a greater share of mind space is particularly relevant in many categories, not least CPG. A particular item is competing with tens of thousands of other items in a grocery store. And buying a feature or a display – when you can get one – is an unbelievably expensive proposition. I think another interesting use would be to increase velocity for products that are struggling with particular retailers. For example, I have worked on several brands that had strong sales in some chains, but slow starts in others. This kind of program can be fielded very quickly and in a very targeted manner.

That’s cool. Check out this free app on iPhone or Android.

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