While for years companies like Yahoo!, Microsoft (Hotmail), Google Gmail, and Facebook have bombarded us with ads that run alongside our emails and wall posts that attempt to target our interests, more refined, GPS-oriented applications are zeroing in our interests perhaps a little better.
With the proliferation of smartphones, a cottage industry of local and web-based shopping themed applications are sprouting up. Among my favorite are “apps” that let you scan bar codes so you can play stock clerk at your favorite store. While you scan, you can bet that the results returned from Google, or wherever else in which they hail, are planting “cookies” in your phone and building a profile on you. And now, the advent of location-based savings is catching on, too, in other ways. Built only for iPhones at the moment, a site called shopkick allows you to “check in” to stores for savings, in similar fashion to how foursquare works. Things are getting interesting.
The idea is simple, and if you have ever seen the movie “The Minority Report” there is a scene where a customer walks into the store and is immediately recognized by a virtual retail employee. With shopkick, when in proximity to a store, in which you may not even have to enter, a signal from your phone indicates that you may be interested in shopping there. In return for giving up some privacy, you can be rewarded with something called kickbucks. These can be turned into gift cards and other goodies.
With more information and savings opportunities than ever before, we all just might be cruising around with more tools in our arsenal to find the best deal.