Barcode Hero Takes On The LBS Retail Space With Gaming-Based “Social Shopping” App

Another day, another LBS app enters the space.  Today, Kima Labs — a startup founded by two Amazon veterans — announced a new LBS app dubbed “Barcode Hero,” which uses the same game-mechanics as Foursquare, but does so for product categories instead.

In an attempt to “make shopping more social,” Barcode Hero works by allowing a user to take their phone into a store, launch the app and start scanning the barcodes of items they’re interested in.  Doing so unlocks points and rewards such as dukedoms and kingships for various product categories.  Instead of becoming the “mayor of Starbucks” in Foursquare, you become the “duke of smartphones” for example.

At present the user-experience is purely game-based, acquiring points for scanning items and being awarded titles for doing so, but the app also serves up price comparisons through a partnership with PriceGrabber.  The underlying point for Barcode Hero is to entice users to utilize the app so it can build up a database of information to “help personalize your shopping experience.”  At its core, the app is aiming to become a recommendation service to help shopping become a more social experience, and to provide a valuable platform for retailers to tap into.

The founders have the right idea — “We want to attack in-store shopping,” said co-founder Blake Scholl.  “Personalization has revolutionized shopping online, but there’s very little of that in actual stores,” he said.  The two know what they’re doing too, both Scholl and co-founder Jason Crawford worked at Amazon for several years, before they both moved on to Pelago, makers of the location-based app Whrrl.

The concept is there, but it’s still just another LBS app in a market that’s currently being flooded.  Add to it the fact that consumers haven’t fully caught on to the whole LBS retail experience quite yet and it creates a steep uphill battle to overcome.  Be that as it may, the app is actually pretty interesting to use — you can test it out for yourself, the app is available now in the Apple App Store.