Adam Lewis is a tech entrepreneur and CEO of Apploi, a mobile recruiting application.
This year there are only four weekends instead of five between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so holiday shoppers need to be extra efficient with their time. The good news is that new and innovative apps can help you do precisely this – and, as a bonus, save money too.
Companies are unveiling and improving apps with features that can make shopping faster, less stressful, and easier on the budget. Personalized shopping search engine TheFind’s new app, for example, integrates with your personal preferences on Facebook and lets you scan bar codes in stores to check prices — and compare them across the web.
- Amazon Price Check
In a similar vein, Amazon Price Check, a comparison-app pioneer, is always updating its app (iPhone, Android) to let in-store shoppers know if they can get a better deal with Amazon. You can now type, scan, snap or say a product name to instantly shop its warehouses for millions of in-store items. And of course those wishing to shop in their pajamas can do so on Amazon, or the website of their favorite brands.
Sometimes the best deal isn’t available when you’re ready to shop. BuyVia’s app alerts you to real-time discounts on desired products and offers deals picked by professionals, barcode scanning, and price comparisons.
PriceGrabber, another app that compares prices across stores, lets you pick your price for an item and notifies you if it drops to hit the mark.
Coupons App by Shopular (iPhone, Android) provides access to coupons from top retailers. An alert pops up in real-time when at a store or a mall to apprise you of deals.
- Gift It
There seem to be apps for everything this holiday season. Need a mobile gift list? Try Gift It – A Christmas Shopping List app. Assign gifts to friends and family, then swipe each gift after you purchase to indicate it’s done. You can track your shopping progress by percentage or by a color scale.
- Lemon Wallet
Want to store practically your entire wallet? Lemon Wallet allows you to photograph items – from receipts to your medical insurance card – and store a digital copy for safety. You’ll be glad to have snapped those receipts when it’s time to return products in the mad holiday dash.
One more that deserves a mention is RedLaser. Named for the laser scanner located at checkouts, this app lets you scan product codes and find items at local retailers. A special feature helps you avoid allergens in foods, which is both a time-saver and potentially a life-saver for shoppers whose loved ones have dietary restrictions.
Aiming to counter the pajama temptation, leading retailers and brands are bending over backwards to keep shoppers buying in stores. That means free apps, free in-store Wi-Fi to help customers navigate the stores, and even “location-based promotions” available only to shoppers making purchases on site.
Loyal customers tend to get the best deals first, so smart shoppers should download or update apps for their favorite stores. If you’re a regular shopper, chances are they have already done some of the legwork for you – they know your preferences and have tailored deals to your needs.
Another player in the holiday shopping game is newly IPO’ed Twitter. You might have noticed clever retailers using Twitter to inspire holiday gift ideas ratherearly this year. Retailers often tweet discounts to their followers, so attentive Twitter users will have a head start on deals. In addition, companies closely monitor Twitter these days.
So if you can’t find an item — or need to vent — why not skip customer service desks and try tweeting about it instead?
Thanks to smartphones, the days spent cutting coupons are long gone. Perhaps the most important thing shoppers can do to save time and money this holiday season is to makesure their phones are fully charged before leaving home.