Here's a new one to add to the mobile marketing roster: Angry Birds meets Groupon meets that wadded-up coupon in your pocket.
That's one way to think of SlingShop, a new marketing tool from iLoop Mobile that's aimed at smaller retailers who want to connect with customers in the digital age. Shoppers can use their smartphones in a store to play a game – like slinging a digital slingshot at a target – for the chance to win a discount. Under at least one scenario, the retail store will have an iPad set up in the shop for the customers to interact with.
Michael Kurtzman, vice president of consumer products at iLoop, says large retailers are using all manner of mobile to promote loyalty, and a lot of non-mobile solutions like Groupon have made their way from the Web to the iPhone. But a lot of the check-in apps out there don't do anything for the small business.
So iLoop took its experience working with the big brands – like Coca Cola, CNN, HP, Live Nation and McDonald's, to name a few – and set out to develop something specifically for smaller retailers.
The new SlingShop offering, due in select markets in June, gives retailers a single console from which to target their customers.
Afshan Tabazadeh, owner of the Zia clothing store in Bainbridge Island, Wash., is looking forward to the day it's available in her market. "I think it's really fun," she says. "What I like about it is it puts more power into the merchant's hands... It can be valuable if used right."
Besides tourists to the island, Zia already has a set group of pretty regular customers, and it would be beneficial if it's a slow day to use the tool to get people to stop into the store, maybe encourage them to take a roll of the "dice," or slingshot, to see if they win anything. But the key for a small business is it can't be constantly giving out discounts, and Tabazadeh says she likes that SlingShop allows the merchant to control that aspect of it.
iLoop executives say current mobile loyalty apps are just digital versions of paper programs and mostly work with national shops. Check-in apps are often irrelevant to the retailer – users can check in even without making a transaction or entering a shop. The SlingShop program lets retailers build relationships with consumers and retain them through a fun loyalty program. For consumers, they only get the deals they want to see, not just what happens to be the "deal of the day," and they can find local shops and deals quickly on their phone.
The offering initially is expected to be available in San Francisco, Seattle and New York.