Shopkick now allows consumers to make purchases directly from its mobile app, which rewards consumers for visiting its merchant clients in-person.

Shopkick’s app detects when consumers visit certain retail stores by sensing an ultrasonic signal emitted at the store’s entrance or over its sound system. Through pacts with Visa and MasterCard, it also provides rewards for swiped card payments, and this update finally allows consumers to make payments from directly within the app. 

“We always envisioned this as a goal for us, to be the mobile commerce companion for our retailers,” says Cyriac Roeding, CEO and co-founder of shopkick. “Shopping happens everywhere. You can shop in a store or at home from your couch.”

The new payments feature is available at more than 30 stores, including Target, Macy’s, Best Buy, Old Navy, Anthropologie, Banana Republic, Gymboree, Bath & Body Works and Urban Outfitters. There are two options—consumers can “like” a product while shopping on the app, or they can pay immediately using technology developed internally by shopkick to access the merchant’s app from the shopkick app.

“Before, you would have to navigate to the retailer’s site to make a purchase,” Roeding says. “Now you can make the purchase without leaving shopkick.”

As part of the new mobile feature, consumers can save favorite items that they have “liked” into customizable digital “books,” which represent a collection of products that can be organized by category. The books also provide alerts and social tools. Consumers are notified when they enter a store that is selling an item they have liked, and there’s also the option to share likes and comments with a network of friends.

“If you see shoes that you liked before, you’ll know about that when you enter the store,” Roeding says.

Shopkick provides rewards in a currency called “kicks” for a variety of actions such as visiting stores, interacting with products and making purchases. Shopkick earns an affiliate fee from retailers, and gives up some of that fee to fund the “kicks,” Roeding says.

With shopkick’s app, a smartphone’s microphone picks up a signal sent through a device plugged in at a store’s entrance. Stores such as Macy's broadcast shopkick’s signal over their speakers instead. Shopkick receives about one billion visits per month, and “the consumers we work with have been asking for purchasing abilities,” Roeding says.

The company is focusing on adding mobile commerce to brick-and-mortar stores, rather than working with online-only merchants, because consumers who shop both in-person and online are more profitable, Roeding says.

In-app payments are one of many technologies challenging conventional payment methods.ZooZ, for example, places a payment application inside mobile advertisements. And Ingenico aims to someday enable purchases linked to television ads.

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