Got a hot tip yesterday that this was coming. Kmart announced today during #gamerchat an interesting new (and likely industry and retail first) social media effort to bridge their online gaming community at with off-line retail activity. Starting today, qualified reviews of games posted at may start appearing along with the reviewed game on store shelves.

While I know gamers are a passionate and active online community, I don’t get a sense they’re overly active in retail store forums. The site has a handful of reviews, but nothing in the volume you would see from a passionate community. Kmart is trying to build an environment for the gamers to connect in, which I admire. They spearheaded today’s first gamer chat on Twitter as well that saw some interest. Regardless of whether or not they’ll embrace Kmart’s effort to drive community around their passion, gamers take a lot of pride in their online connections and sharing reviews, tricks and tips and more around the games they play.

Big Kmart discount store in Ontario, Oregon (USA).
Image via Wikipedia

Now take that pride and let these guys and gals know their qualified review (there are some prerequisites, but nothing out of the ordinary) could help not only gamers, but mainstream non-gamers in knowing how good, bad or indifferent the games are? That’s a neat idea. They’ve used this to date by putting the customer reviews on the product page on Kmart’s website (not new). But putting customer reviews out in the open on the retail floor? First I’ve heard of it. Very cool.

Kmart is taking social capital produced online and bringing to to bear in a useful way off-line. But to take that notion one more step, they are providing useful information to their retail shoppers, generated by independent, third-party, but qualified sources that doesn’t necessarily affect sales of one game or another. (I’ve been told negative reviews will make the cut, too. We’ll see.)

This effort will be interesting to follow. Will negative reviews move through to the shelves? How will people react to it? Will it help sell more games? How will activity on change?

Never know ’til you try. Good on ya, Kmart.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • Nigel Legg

    Not sure about this – how do you know who posted the review – how do you evaluate the writer – in the offline world? Online you would be able to check their profile and work out something about them; offline, in the store, you can't do that. Interesting idea, but no back reference.

    • JasonFalls

      The back reference is that it comes from the MyKmart community. There are
      terms of service and standards to be able to even post a review. Yes, it's a
      branded community, but it has a transparent process about who can post and
      what posts are considered. All they need to do is post a URL on the shelf
      cap and you've got your validation. Thoughts?

      • Daniel_Honigman

        Just to be clear, we'll include either the gamer's name or their MyKmart handle in the on-shelf reviews.

        (NOTE: I'm the social media manager for Kmart Electronics.)

        • JasonFalls

          Cool. Thanks, Dan, for the clarification!

        • themaria

          Do you vary reviews by store? I.e. if I go to Kmart in AnyCity, USA, would I see the same review that I would see in MyTown, USA? Or two different reviews? It would be cool if there were little touchscreens to browse the reviews and interact with them on-shelf (i.e. I can like / unlike / comment) – add some game dynamics to the whole thing, so reviewers with the most likes can get an elite status. That would be cool.


          • Daniel_Honigman

            This project is still in its infancy, Maria. If we were to explore the possibility of posting regional reviews, we'd look at what it would take to put those processes in place.

            This is a first step!

  • markwilliamschaefer

    No offense but KMart is about the un-coolest brand on earth. A home base for gamers? Really? I applaud the effort but maybe they should have created a separate branded site. Reminiscent of the 1980s and 90s when KMart could not figure out what it wanted to be, a primary cause of their demise.

    • JasonFalls

      So why can they not start with gamers in 2010? Ease off the haterade, bro.
      Let the community decide if they're cool or not. Just sayin'.

  • JasonFalls

    So why can they not start with gamers in 2010? Ease off the haterade, bro.
    Let the community decide if they're cool or not. Just sayin'.

  • JasonFalls

    So why can they not start with gamers in 2010? Ease off the haterade, bro.
    Let the community decide if they're cool or not. Just sayin'.

  • Simon Croft

    Cool or not, they are making an effort to bring the store up to date and gamers are a massive community both online and offline.

    Social marketing is the way to go, you got to give them praise for seeing that and being innovative.

    • Daniel_Honigman

      Thanks for the kind words, Simon.

  • Gav

    That's a really creative idea..and that's what social media is all about…being creative. I like this and I bet it's not long before other stores use this.

    • Daniel_Honigman

      Thanks a lot, Gav. It's a first step; our end goal is to bridge the online and in-store experiences. (It doesn't hurt to try new things as well!)

  • olga-lednichenko-shulman

    that is totally unexpected.. but welcome move

    olga lednichenko

    • Daniel_Honigman

      Thanks, Olga!

      • Brosix

        It's great that you're answering everyone's questions on this post Daniel. It really shows that K-Mart is on top of their game! I think this is an interesting concept and a great idea.

        • Daniel_Honigman

          Thanks, Bro. (Or Brosix.)

  • Brandon Coppernoll

    I imagine the reviews that actually make it to the shelves will be those that will help sales…not give the in-store buyer a true representation of everything people are saying on that website.

    • Gav

      Ummm….so? Would you not do the same? Isn't that just the same as 'testimonials'?

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  • Alan Belniak

    I thought Loblaw (Canadian grocery store chain) did/does this, no? (p. 191-193 in Groundswell). Perhaps you meant first for games and such, in which case you're probably right. But if you mean the first to bring the online reviews into the offline world, then Loblaw might have them 'beat'. Regardless, I agree: thumbs up for KMart .

    • Daniel_Honigman

      Thanks, Alan!

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  • Galfromdownunder

    I wasn't clear about the mechanism used here – printed reviews stuck on shelves? A bit like “Staff Picks” in bookstores?
    Surely a more timely way would be to have live reviews fed through a bleating/tweeting on-shelf monitor, or the game screen itself. Go a step further and let shoppers tweet reviewers directly and (perhaps) get an immediate responses while they're out walking the dog – every man in the street seems fixated on their PDA's anyway. K-Mart could bonus the reviewers on a pay-per-response basis. Hey, I'm not a tech, you figure it out!

    reviews. Somehow, paper reviews are nice for

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  • Daniel_Honigman

    Thanks, Alan!

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  • miami web design

    good work, K-mart goes hard ^.^

  • Apex Pacific

    I didn’t know that before i saw it.
    It’s interesting to know about social media first from k-mart