There used to be a time that you walked into a store, picked up what you wanted, and paid the person at the checkout stand. No instantaneous comparison shopping, no e-tailers to check first, and depending on where you lived, not even too many places to choose from. But with the internet and so many people carrying around miniature connected computers in the form of smartphones, shoppers can now check on a price of a product everywhere else before plunking down their hard earned cash. There are hundreds of apps to choose from, and while I can only recommend iPhone apps for comparison shopping (as that’s the phone I own), I am sure there are comparable apps for other phones as well. Let’s take a look at 6 free ones that can help you save money, along with the links to each (which open in iTunes).
Red laser is my absolute and standard go-to app when I need to comparison price shop. Like most of these other applications, Red Laser uses your phone’s camera to scan the barcode of any product, which then brings up a page of different places and prices you can buy it. It has been flawless for me in finding the correct information, and has saved me a ton of dough over the time I have had it. It has a place on the first page of my iPhone, if that tells you anything. (iTunes Link)
Half.com is where I used to go all the time for cheaper CD’s and books, but now they also have video games, video game systems, and DVD’s. Using their free application you can scan the barcodes of music you want or textbooks you need for school, and find cheaper prices online. You can also buy right from the app, which makes shopping a little more convenient while also saving you money. (iTunes Link)
Another eBay company, like half.com, shopping.com offers not only the ability to comparison shop, but also millions of unbiased product and merchant reviews from the Epinions community. (I love epinions.com) You can shop for cars, electronics, clothing, media, office supplies, musical instruments, sports equipment… the list goes on forever. (iTunes Link)
OK, so Groupon isn’t exactly a comparison shopping app, but it can still save you a ton of dough. Groupon is a “group coupon” site, which pools together all interested parties to buy discounted products or services. Once signed up, you get a daily groupon that members can buy into, and the savings can be quite significant. As I am writing this, the deal for the day is $100 Worth of Custom Framing at FastFrame – for only $45. That’s quite a discount! (iTunes Link)
While I mentioned that I can only vouch for the iPhone apps of each, these guys also feature an app for Android phones as well. Owned by Experian, one of the three credit reporting bureaus, PriceGrabber lets you easily compare the prices on a ton of products from literally any category you can think of. They also offer coupons, review forums, and Deals of the Day. (iTunes Link)
So if you have a smartphone and you go out shopping without an app like one of these, you may be paying too much for whatever it is you are looking for. While I do prefer shopping Mom and Pop stores if I can, and will gladly pay a little more for the privilege of doing so, sometimes the only option is a big box store – and that’s when these kind of apps come in handy. If I am in a Barnes & Noble and want a book, I will always use Red Laser to scan the barcode and check the prices of it online. Almost always, I can get it cheaper elsewhere – all using a free app on my phone.
Do you have a favorite comparison shopping site or application for your phone? If so, please tell us about it!