Sears (NASDAQ:SHLD) has done more off-the-wall experimenting with mobile commerce than most retailers, and the winner of its latest app-coding contest falls into that same category: It's an app for getting kids to do their chores.
Yes, there is a retail element: The Chore Score app lets kids (and their parents) make chore lists, track progress and earn rewards that can be redeemed from within the app or in-store. The developers, from a startup called Omega Ortega, worked up the app during a three-day code-a-thon last month and will get a test budget and a chance for the retailer to buy the app from them.
Who will pay for those rewards points (the parents, presumably) hasn't been specified, but it should be soon, since the developers are hoping to get the app launched in time for the holiday shopping season.
Runner-up apps in the contest, which was intended to come up with apps that support Sears's Shop Your Way loyalty program, included a buy-with-friends app, a last-minute-gift-ideas app and a product-return app—in other words, some fairly conventional mobile app ideas, completely focused on shopping. There's nothing wrong with them, but this is well-trodden ground.
The interesting thing about the Chore Score app is that it uses mobile to feed shoppers into retail, instead of just helping them do what they came for once they're already there. At this point, anyone with a smartphone or tablet can shop online through an app or website. That's a solved problem. Still unsolved: how to give mobile users more reasons to start shopping, and to do that shopping at specific retailers.
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