Shopkick Inc., the shopping rewards mobile application popular with big-box chains, is taking on Main Street.
The Palo Alto, Calif.-based technology firm is wooing local retailers from coffee shops to bakeries to clothing boutiques in 10 cities, including Chicago, in a bid to expand its reach.
National chains were among the early adopters including Target, Best Buy, Crate & Barrel, Macy's, Sports Authority and American Eagle. But in March, Shopkick decided to target small shops and launched a pilot program with 100 independent retailers in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Stockton, Calif.
Now, the firm is rolling out the shopping app to more cities, including Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and Dallas and Austin, Tex.
"We will do for small and medium-sized local stores what we have done for large, national chains: drive foot traffic," said Cyriac Roeding, co-founder and CEO of Shopkick.
Retailers are eager to attract shoppers into their stores, especially as more consumersmake their purchases online. Shopkick rewards increase the more involved a shopper becomes in a store. Typically, customers earn a few points for walking outside the door and more points for going into the dressing room.
To spark interest among local merchants, Shopkick is offering the service for free for one year to 1,000 selected local stores that submit applications online at Shopkick.com within the next 30 days. (The winners typical cost is $100 for the signal box and a fraction of a cent for each "kick" reward. )
Citigroup is sponsoring the promotion. Citi, through its Citi Ventures unit, was an early investor in shopkick. Shopkick, founded in 2009, counts Kleiner Perkins, Greylock Partners and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman among its funders.