Case Study: Target Encourages Guest Loyalty With Shopkick Partnership

Share this:

When Target took its partnership with Shopkick nationwide and rolled out the app at its 1,764 stores in May 2012, it became the largest retailer to partner with the mobile loyalty platform to date. While the partnership is still in its infancy, Target communications manager Molly Snyder says store managers are already reporting tremendous feedback and enthusiasm from guests who are now earning gift cards and other rewards when they opt-in and begin using the mobile program.

It’s been a few months since Target announced it was making Shopkick available in stores nationwide. How is the integration going so far?
We’ve been with Shopkick since late 2010. In the fall of 2010 we did a test in about 270 stores, so we have actually been with them for quite some time. Now with the national rollout, all of our stores feature Shopkick as an option for guests to earn “kicks” when they walk in, as well as scans and deals and coupons and that kind of thing. It has been a gradual process for us, but we’ve heard tremendous feedback from our guests. Certainly there was a lot of enthusiasm when the news broke that Target would be the first national retailer to offer Shopkick, and so really we’ve been hearing great feedback.

What was the benefit of doing a gradual rollout?
Target is really committed to making sure that the things we bring to our guests — the partnerships that we bring forth — really resonate with them. So in doing a test, we tested lots of things to really give us an opportunity to see how guests would engage with this, what kind of experiences they were having, and just to make sure that we rolled out the best possible experience across the chain.

How do customers interact with the Shopkick app inside Target stores?
The basics are, each person downloads the free app on their phone and they get registered. It’s a quick five- or ten-second registration with your main email, and then as you enter a store you launch the app — so you opt-in and choose to turn it on. Using the microphone technology with the phone, there is a signal that is then recognized when you have entered the store. Shopkick can be activated by different retailers in different ways, but when guests visit a Target store, they earn bucks or “kicks” just for walking in. Then [the app] will often populate with different offers, information, products you can scan, and other ways you can earn “kicks” throughout the store. Essentially, you just watch your “kicks” add up, and then when you get to various levels you can cash them out for gift cards, merchandise with other retailers, movie passes, iTunes downloads, and a variety of things.

What kind of participation is required from Target cashiers?
Really none at all. Our point of sale system is already able to scan mobile coupons, mobile gift cards, and that type of thing. We’ve educated all of our team members about what happens when someone brings in a gift card that’s on the Shopkick app, so it’s just a matter of them scanning it for people to get their gift cards credited.

Does the Shopkick app integrate with any of your other loyalty programs?
It’s a complement to them, but it’s not a direct integration. So the other main loyalty programs that we have are obviously coupons, direct mail and those types of things, as well as we have our REDcard Rewards, which [give] people who use our red Target card 5%-off on nearly all of their purchases in-store and at We also have pharmacy rewards, which after five eligible prescriptions, you get an additional 5%-off one day [of] shopping. So those are the existing [loyalty programs] designed for Target guests, and this is really just an additional layer on top of that.

Do you have any sense of how many customers have been using Shopkick at Target stores so far, or how exactly they’re using the mobile application?
No, we don’t have anything like that to share, unfortunately. We don’t see individual data about what guests are doing. That goes to Shopkick and it is not directly shared with us, so a lot of what we are seeing and hearing is really anecdotal. It’s great enthusiasm — you can visibly see when a guest comes into the store with their Droid or their iPhone and stands there waiting for their signal to get picked up. So we are hearing lots of great stories from our stores about how they’re seeing consumers engage with the app.

Without the data, how do you tell whether the partnership is successful?
That’s probably a better question from a data perspective for Shopkick, but they do share things like how their user base increases. A lot of it [for us] is direct guest feedback, and we are able to see things like how many people obviously redeemed mobile gift cards at Target, and certainly that kind of redemption is a sign of how people are engaging with it.

Are there any social media elements to your Shopkick partnership?
Certainly people have the ability. When you find that there’s a great deal, or when you earn “kicks,” you can share that on Facebook. It’s something you would choose to do. It doesn’t automatically happen, but there’s certainly a social component in people sharing and [Shopkick does] have some kind of an incentive program for recommending your friends to join and getting them to sign up. That is another way, I believe, that you can earn “kicks,” as well.

What is Target’s ultimate goal as far as the Shopkick partnership is concerned?
It’s very much a focus on loyalty. We know from our guests that they love shopping at Target. This is a place that they come, and they come frequently. So this is just really another way to reward [them] for something they’re already doing, and to continue to really embrace the “shopping is fun” experience that people have at Target.

Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Click here to read more Street Fight local merchant case studies.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.