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Summary:

Shopping apps are like InMarket’s Checkpoints apps are becoming powerful discovery tools for brands looking to get the word out on their products. InMarket said 50 percent of its users discovered new products using the Checkpoints app in the fourth quarter last year.

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A lot of the talk about mobile shopping apps has revolved around users looking up prices and getting information on products they want to buy. But the apps are also becoming powerful discovery tools for brands, who are using apps like InMarket’s Checkpoints to help surface new products for consumers.

InMarket told me that in its first survey of performance statistics, it found that 50 percent of its users discovered new products using the Checkpoints app in the fourth quarter last year. InMarket doesn’t have comparative data for previous quarters but the figure shows that brands are able to drive a lot of discovery of products through shopping apps such as Checkpoints.

Checkpoints allows users to win points toward rewards for checking into stores and scanning products. The app sounds similar to Shopkick but it emphasizes products, which can be found at 2 million retail locations. Checkpoints works with brands like Proctor & Gamble, Levi’s, Coca Cola and Nestle, to highlight products in particular stores and chains that users can interact with. Brands can also advertise through Checkpoints and other partner apps including ShopSavvy that are now connected to to InMarket’s Shopper Network, which now reaches 20 million consumers. InMarket is looking to expand its Shopper Network in the coming weeks with a new SDK that will allow other apps to incorporate some of the Checkpoints functionality.

Some of the brands using Checkpoint are seeing a big return on their investment. Dreyer’s and Edy’s Ice Cream used Checkpoints to drive consumers to buy their product last summer. The company said it had a 340 percent return on investment as overall dollar sales among Checkpoints users went up 88 percent and shoppers reported a 94.8 percent higher purchase intent after engaging with the ice cream brand.

“Our specialty is connecting with consumers before, during and after shopping,” said Dave Heinzinger, director of communications for InMarket. “We’re changing the game on how we influence consumer behavior once consumers are inside the store.”

As we’ve been reporting, the shopping experience is being transformed by mobile devices and mobile shopping apps. Some are helping retailers build more loyalty and engagement in store. But many are also arming consumers with price comparisons online and in other stores and providing additional information on reviews, product details and ratings. A recent Pew study found that half of U.S. shoppers rely on their phones now for in-store research to help inform their buying decisions.

This is a challenge for retailers and brands but it’s also an opportunity as Checkpoints is showing. As consumers increasingly look to mobile apps, there’s a chance to get products in front of consumers, which can be especially potent when you can establish that a person is in a store and is looking to buy. The Pew study found that of the people who conducted online price research on a product, 35 percent still bought the product in the store while 19 percent purchased online and another 8 percent went to another store to buy. If given the right incentive, consumers I think are willing to stay in store and buy. That’s important for both brands and retailers because while consumers may be looking for the best deal around, they’re also willing to just buy now if they feel like they get some value or they’re not getting ripped off.

Shoppers are going to continue turning to mobile apps this year as smartphone penetration moves beyond 50 percent in the U.S. But now the question for brands and retailer is how do you harness these trends to help sell products and keep people in stores. Checkpoints is reporting some solid results and showing how a challenge can be an opportunity as well.

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