Fifty-five percent of the time iPhone users are on their phones, they are not talking to someone. So, what are they doing? One of those activities is shopping – but as you’ll see, shopping with these apps (which are also available for some other phones) is not just shopping. It also means that you can compare prices, local/on-line availability, nutrition, and how the manufacturer rates for eco-friendliness. In addition to all this info, you’ll be able to share your findings through email that you link to within the app, thereby impressing and wowing your friends and neighbors (or at least your teenage sons).
Last weekend, my husband and I, in our never-ending quest to be more handy, decided to buy a powerwasher. While in line at Home Depot, I used the Redlaser app on my iPhone to scan the powerwasher’s UPC code. The results showed me that the same product was available online – for $30 less. HomeDepot matched the online price, and I saved the thirty bucks.
Apps like Redlaser and Shopsavvy use a scanning technology that will give you information about pricing – both online and locally. They pull from the location services on your phone to list the stores near you that have that item in stock. If you want to get it online, just click – you’re redirected to the website. Or if you prefer a local retailer’s price, you can link to the store’s phone number, get directions, email the results to someone else (or yourself), or go to the store’s website. Redlaser will also give you allergen and nutrition information on food products – and you can set price alerts on Shopsavvy.
And, if that isn’t cool enough –– if the product you’re scanning is a book, you can also see if the book is available at one of your local libraries. (Full disclosure: I haven’t been able to get mine to show me this. Since my library fines usually end up higher than the actual cost of purchasing the book , I haven’t really investigated it.)
Another app is made by GoodGuide. It also uses a scanning technology. But instead of pricing and availability, GoodGuide provides you with a rating of the product and the company who produces it. GoodGuide gives you an overall health hazard, environmental impact, and social impact assessment. You can search their recommended product list, scan a product, key in a upc number, or search by name or ingredient. GoodGuide seems to have a very sound process for arriving at these ratings. GoodGuide will even give you alternatives, if your product’s ratings are low (Similar to my mother when I was dating, but that is another blog post).
There are some other scanning technologies I’ll cover in another blog post. But these three really start telling a story about our consumer habits today – they give us a mechanism that fulfills our trending desires and preferences: I am active in seeking information, I want to be able to obtain it now (a la Veruca Salt). I prefer that the information is tailored to me, to my location. I am curious about my peers’ feedback on the product and I value the community of public opinion. And most importantly, I want to be able to access all of this anywhere, anytime. I want my access portable, easy, and convenient. Yep, this scanning stuff allows for all that — and more. Like WonkaVision, it could change the world.