A new application is available for smartphone users that allow them to compare prices in store and find the best deals on the spot.
Appropriately named TheFind, this application empowers consumers with the ability to type in model numbers (or scan bar codes when combined with the Red Laser application) of specific items they are considering purchasing and then get a list of the best prices on their phone from online or local retailers. This method not only saves shoppers money, but also educates them on how retailers do business.
I encountered one woman who found an item that she wanted to purchase for her daughter. It was advertised as the lowest price available, but when she scanned the barcode she found a better price on the retailer’s Web site. She did not realize that retailers could have two different prices for the same item. From then on she said she would check prices for all items with her phone before buying anything.
It’s true: Many retailers will offer a discount price in store, but have a better price advertised online Retailers think that if they get the customer in the store, they will most likely buy what they are looking for. Some people don’t mind purchasing a product for a few dollars more because they are comforted by the fact that they can easily return it to the store if it is broken or not the appropriate gift.
Now that TheFind and Red Laser have made it as easy as aiming your phone at a barcode and clicking a button to find extra savings, more shoppers may decide to resist the old standard and go mobile. In fact, only 0.1% of shoppers on Black Friday in 2009 used mobile devices to search retailer Web sites. In 2010 Coremetrics, a business that tracks e-commerce utilization, estimated that the number of shoppers visiting retailers online via mobile devices rose to 5.6%. No matter how you look at it, that is huge growth.
Consumers are looking for bargains and they are finding them online. As the economy bottomed out and people started to struggle paying bills, an ideological shift took place. Instead of careless spending, consumers slowly became more frugal. Now, to the chagrin of most store chains, these same consumers are looking for any method to save money.
Many consumers feel they have been taken advantage of when they find out retailers are manipulating prices and now have tools to fight back and find better deals. And retailers are taking notice.
Amazon has created an application that allows users to scan barcodes, take pictures of items, or even talk into their device to describe the item. The app then finds out if Amazon carries the item and can beat the offered price. Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) has partnered with TheFind to target customers shopping in other stores. When the customer uses TheFind application to compare a price from another store, the phone automatically collects the details and sends ads for comparable products from Best Buy. Some people may find this a bit intrusive, because the application tracks them through their phone’s GPS, but it’s just another option to save money.
Retailers are also trying to combat this new shopping technique by offering “exclusive” deals--meaning some manufacturers bundle products exclusive to the retailer. So if a consumer tries to look up the product using TheFind it won’t be listed at any other stores, online or otherwise. Although this may seem like a savvy business approach to thwart the new “shopping super hero,” it is not fool proof. New applications and new approaches will be developed for searching for items to find the best prices and retailers around the nation will soon realize consumers mean business, too.