Shopping apps help users find deals

Posted January 31, 2011 6:00 p.m. EST
Updated January 31, 2011 6:51 p.m. EST

— Tom Edwards used the Red Laser application on his iPhone to track down a deal on a television. While standing at the Target store in Cary, he used the application to check the prices at other retailers.

“It’s $385 at Radio Shack. It’s $349 here, so I’d pick it up here,” he said.

Mobile phone users with a shopping application like Red Laser use their smart phone’s camera to scan the bar-code of a product. The application then finds the product and allows users to compare prices on the web and in local stores.

Edwards said shopping apps saved his family money at Christmas.

“There were a few things that we ended up just saying, 'Forget it, we'll get it online, or we'll get it at this other store,'” he said.

David Henard, a marketing professor at North Carolina State University’s Poole College of Management said smart phones are revolutionizing the shopping experience.

“Even a low-tech-savvy person who's armed with a smart phone can pull it out, and they've got a tremendous amount of information right there in their hands,” he said.

Shopping applications have filled the Android Market and Apple's iTunes store. Henard said they give the consumer more information and leverage to get the best price.

Retailers are also embracing the change, Henard said.

“I only see it growing, and retailers have got to either adjust and adapt to this or it's going to run them over,” he said.

Henard said GPS-enabled phones are the next big push in mobile marketing. Retailers already are sending deals directly to customers when they enter stores. They're also exploring how to send ads to phones when someone enters a competitor's store.