Check-in Apps: Dart into Stores, Get Rewards

"I don't think I buy more, but when I'm trying to earn more points, I do spend more time shopping," she says.

Of course, time spent in a store or holding a product in your hand has a value for brand marketers and retailers, which is the point of all of these smartphone apps.

"Getting someone into a store is obviously the main goal," says Dave Heinzinger, spokesman for inMarket, the company behind the CheckPoints app. "If we can get a shopper to physically pick up the product to scan it, we know that purchasing intent goes way up."

What about Privacy?

While check-in shopping apps can offer rewards and savings, consumers should understand that they're also giving up some personal information in the process, says Prosch.

At a minimum, all of these apps use your phone's geotargeting functionality to determine your location, because they need to know that you're actually in the store for the app to work.

Prosch says consumers should read the terms of service carefully before installing any smartphone app and be wary if, for example, data on your purchases will be stored or details about your activities will be shared on social networks -- things the major check-in apps say they do not do.

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