In this digital age, the modern shopper is equipped with apps to help them find the perfect gift, avoid lines, find free shipping offers, an make sure that they are always getting the best deal possible. But the app-craze of the last two years have created a confusing array of shopping app choices. Below is a list of the ones that I have found most useful, or at least worth talking about.
Apps for the Organized Accountant in You:
PCMag gave 4 out of 5 stars to AwesomeNote. "As the name implies, Awesome Note (+Todo) ($3.99, direct) is an iPhone app for creating notes and to-do lists. Of all the personal organization apps on Apple's mobile devices, Awesome Note is one of the most visually compelling, letting users choose which colors, background images, fonts, and icons they want to use in their notes. It's a treat to play with all these options, plus the app's graphical calendar, while also being productive."
Gift Plan. This fun app lets you be organized AND creative but most importantly it will help you track what you've gotten people in the past so you never have to worry about the dreaded repeat gift. AppSafari gave a short write up and explained how it works. "You upload contacts from facebook or your address book to manage your shopping. You navigate between gift ideas, a calendar to remind of you of upcoming celebrations, and your shopping list from the bottom of the screen. This app is for a super-organized, thoughtful person who wants a simple, effective interface to help with gift giving."
Sustainably Conscious App:
GoodGuide. I found one that was green and convenient. It lets you find products with information about its impact on the world, environment and your health via its scanner. GooglePlay writes "The GoodGuide app instantly reveals whether products are safe, healthy, green and socially responsible while you shop. The app’s barcode scanning feature lets you quickly access GoodGuide’s science-based health, environment and social ratings for over 170,000 products." The ultimate "nice" list of products.
When Time IS Money:
How many people are willing to pay a little more just to be done a little faster? If time is the more precious commodity, then these apps are for you. And hey, why not use this app AND the coupon apps? Best of both worlds.
Localmind. This is a crowdsourced geolocation app that gives you the scoop on the line lengths and waiting times at stores, bars, restaurants, etc. Appolicious notes that "The latest big update to Localmind changes the way the app works a bit, making it possible to “pass” on questions users don’t feel like answering. The app now also lets you search for information about any place, polling users from all over the world quickly and easily. It’s a great way to find out whatever you need to know, whenever you want to know it."
FastMall. If a sense of direction is not your strong suit then this app can save you loads of time and stress. ZDNet notes, "FastMall can be used to find, then be guided (turn-by-turn) to restrooms, stores and restaurants. You can also navigate almost any shopping mall without the need for GPS or WIFI. Once you download any mall map you can get interactive navigation even without an Internet signal. FastMall can be used to remember where you parked your car, share items that you discover, and even check in at the mall or your favorite store. You can even shake your iPhone to locate and then be taken to the nearest restroom."
Decide. You the type of person who will go back and forth over which item to purchase? If so, this app will be your best friend. ABCNews did a write up on apps that would help you get through Black Friday and this was one of their top 5. They wrote, "The familiar sting of buying something and seeing it on sale the next week can be minimized with Decide, an app with price-predicting powers for appliances and electronics, that advises consumers either to buy now or wait on each particular product. "We use our patent-pending machine learning and text mining algorithms on billions of price points across millions of products, blog posts, and articles on the Web to enable shoppers to make the best buying decision possible," the developers wrote on Decide.com, another place where the price advice can be accessed."
This year the Google Wallet and Apple Passbook offer what I call the total package in shopping apps.
Apple Passbook, according to CNet, "... is an application from Apple designed to store membership cards, tickets, coupons, and boarding passes -- a bit like a digital wallet. As an added feature, Passbook does a few things paper and plastic can't, like alert you to changes in connected account information, and pop up through the homescreen to be readily accessed based on your location." Most reviews I read suggest that the app is great if you know how to use it which was the criticism of this app initially.
Google Wallet, according to Mashable, "...is a mobile payment system developed by Google that allows its users to store debit cards, credit cards, loyalty cards, and gift cards among other things, as well as redeeming sales promotions on their mobile phone. Google Wallet uses near field communication (NFC) to "make secure payments fast and convenient by simply tapping the phone on any PayPass-enabled terminal at checkout."" This too has seen mixed reviews with the majority of criticisms coming from those who think that Google is not really trying to solve a problem but rather looking to exploit search.
Deals Galore and Rewards to Boot!
Who doesn't want to track deals, especially at the last minute? Well, perhaps those that bought early and may risk the buyer's remorse that sets in when they realize they might have waited and found their item cheaper.
Eyeona: I mentioned those that might have buyer's remorse? Well, here is an app that can help.
Eyeona, according to Gizmodo "Scans the receipts of items you've purchased and when they go on sale, it alerts you know so you can recoup the difference. How many times have you bought any number of things—a sweater, a TV, a cell phone, a bag—only to see it on clearance a week later? If you should happen to notice, you could get your money back. But you might not even realize the sale is happening. Eyeona will let you know. You can also add items to a watch list so you can snag them once their prices are slashed. Anything that puts a little money back in your pocket is a good thing."
Shop Savvy is a tried and true staple of the shopping app world and it continues to make the "Best of" lists everywhere. This is very simple. Simply point your phones camera at any product's barcode, wait for the beep and you will be rewarded with a list of prices on that item both in stores and online. Super simple.
Snaptell is an app owned by the powerhouse of online shopping - Amazon. CNN states, "Take a picture of a book, DVD, CD, or video game you're interested in buying and SnapTell will use image recognition to search for prices both online and at stores near you. The service also offers up ratings and links to Google, Amazon's IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes and other sites so you can read about the item you're looking to purchase."
Redlaser. Another tried and true shopping app. It has benefited from a few upgrades. So, you still use your phone to scan the barcode to get a list of the product, its description and product reviews, as well as prices both in-store and online. But now, you can also purchase directly from the app. From there you choose how to take delivery be it shipped to an address or picked up from participating stores. And like the new Apple Passbook, you can store your loyalty card info right into the app so you don't have to track it down for each purchase.
ShopKick. This app is likely the most "rewarding" in that it is all about earning points. You don't even have to buy anything. You can just walk in a store. play.google had a great write up that explains it well. "You get rewarded just for walking into stores like Target, Macy's, Best Buy, Old Navy and Crate & Barrel. Get even more kicks when you scan items and make purchases. Forget sales and coupons. You can find great discounts and deals in the app. It’s a magical experience, and it's free. You can redeem kicks to treat yourself with a free latte at Starbucks, gift cards at many stores, iTunes song downloads, even designer merchandise and trips. You've got nothing to lose. Take shopkick for a whirl—we think you're going to love it for the holidays." Any app that lets me shop and get a free Starbucks is a winner!