The Co.Labs and Target Retail Accelerator challenged entrants to design and build an app that would extend the Target customer experience into new areas, leveraging mobile software--native or web-based--to produce new and pro-social effects in their community, family, school, or social network. Our celebrity judges have selected their finalists, who each received $10,000 seed money and a Target mentor for the next stage--competing for a $75,000 buyout grand prize. Here we're breaking down each of the finalists: The goal of their apps, the use cases, the clever twists, the potential roadblocks, and (of course) the reasons they advanced to the next round. Keep your fingers crossed for the entrants, who get judged this week; we'll announce the grand prize winner on June 27th.
There is scarcely a more acute problem for parents than keeping their kids entertained while they go about their daily lives. Namely, in public places, where boredom sets in, and tantrums are soon to follow. There's rarely anything intrinsically fun about shopping when you're single-digit age, and most of the fun stuff in the store itself, you don't own, and therefore are not really allowed to touch. As a result, shopping with a kid can prove to be taxing or torture. Team Ingenious is comprised of Florence Ng, Sheena Yang, and Jesse Pinuelas.
This app gamifies the shopping list feature of the current Target mobile app, turning it into a scavenger hunt game. Where once we set our kids out in the farm fields to help out, this app tries to modernize the tradition by making kids into hunter-gatherers who can help their parents find the location of areas on the list, and get rewarded for doing so. Sure, the adults could probably find these items just fine on their own, but the illusion of helpfulness may be enough to enfranchise kids into behaving themselves in the store.
This app's primary use case begins at home, where the user creates a shopping list inside the app. Then, the parent hands the app to their kid, so they can take over the vital task of navigating toward the "treasures" on the map of the store. When they find items on their parent's shopping list, the kid-user can scan the item, awarding themselves points (in the game) and their parent some discount or coupon (in real life). During back-to-school, kids can compete with each other to earn the most points as their parents navigate the stresses of late-August shopping. When the kids aren't around, parents can turn off the gamification elements and use the app as a simple discount-hunter and smart shopping list.
One nice feature here: The coupon book. Adult users can jump-start their shopping lists by scanning coupons from a local Target mailer or a Target email. The app also has the sense to suggest a nearby Target with the most items from the shopper's list in stock, saving precious trips in the car with an ever-more-tired-and-grumpy toddler. Another nice feature: The app auto-completes shopping list items from Target's database of SKUs, and automatically groups the list together by location in-store, so that the "adventure" doesn't turn into a wild goose chase.
Our judges were impressed with the 3-D layout map, which is visually engaging and simple enough for junior cartographers. The dual-use case was another high point; being able to turn on and off the kid-distraction features is a real boon, allowing the app to be useful no matter the scenario. It was clear to our judges that the creators of this app put in serious thought, as evidenced by the trivia questions that come with the app--should the shopping adventure end, and the need for distraction doesn't, parents can entertain their little ones with quiz questions that are only vaguely (and tastefully) related to actual products.
One thing that won't become clear until after finalist judging is whether it's feasible to access floor plans for individual Target stores, as that data isn't included in their API. Also, it's unclear what age range of child would actually be duped by such a simple conceit. Will four-year-olds fall for it, only to get wise when they're five? That's hard to say, but presumably an app like this could grow with the child, and create increasingly complex (and for parents, useful) challenges or tasks as the child gets older.
[Image: Flickr user Vxla]