Once upon a time, shopping involved driving to a store and buying the item you needed. There was no instant comparison shopping, no online stores, and certainly no mobile technology to assist you.
Now, technology has made shopping a mobile experience. In fact, according to a survey by ATG (owned by Oracle), 48% of all U.S. consumers use their mobile phones to research and browse products and services. It has become clear that the convergence of shopping and technology means major changes for consumers.
How We Use Mobile
In ATG’s survey, respondents showed the different ways they use mobile devices for shopping:
• Compare prices with other stores (16%)
• Visit a brand’s or store’s website for product information (10%)
• Look for coupons or discounts (7%)
• Check to see if a product is in stock at a particular store (6%)
• Check ratings or reviews on a product or service (6%)
• Collect rewards for visiting a store (5%)
• Request feedback or share an update on something they were considering purchasing (4%)
Many retailers, as well as 3rd party developers, have developed apps to help shoppers with these tasks. All the apps listed here are free and are available for different types of phones.
Price Comparison Apps
Want to know if you can get that product somewhere else for less? Price Check by Amazon™ is a newer app that allows shoppers to scan a product’s barcode and see where the item can be found for less (often on Amazon). Google Shopper™ also allows users to price compare brick-and-mortar retailers with online stores, as well as locate local stores. Both apps are available for the iPhone and Android phones.
With the popularity of geolocation tools that allow you to check in at a store or location, it’s no surprise retailers are using them to their advantage. Shopkick™ provides users with exclusive deals they can access by checking in at a retail store. They can also collect “kicks” by checking in, which are redeemable for prizes. Shopkick is available for Android and iPhones. 
Another free iPhone and Android app, Checkpoint™, lets users redeem prizes in exchange for scanning photos of featured products. The game-like feature encourages shoppers to make the process more fun.
Loyalty Card Apps
Rather than carry around a wallet full of loyalty cards, which reward repeat business, many app developers are creating a virtual solution. KeyRing™ and CardStar™ store loyalty card information and allow users to scan barcodes with their phones. CardStar is available as a download for Android, iPhone, and BlackBerry devices. KeyRing is available for these three platforms, as well as Windows 7® phones.
Clipping paper coupons is so 1999. Today’s consumers use their mobile phones to save money on the go. Coupon Sherpa™, on the iPhone and Android, identifies coupons and savings at local stores using geolocation to find stores near you.
Groupon, one of many daily deal sites, offers its own app to help users find deals in their areas. Its “Now” feature offers deals available at that moment, which you don’t have to wait to use. It’s available for the iPad, iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows 7 phones.
Shopping List Apps
Losing the grocery list is no longer an option if it’s created on a mobile phone. Apps like Shopper™ (on BlackBerry, iPhone, and Android) allow users to not only create grocery lists but also browse grocery store ads, share lists, and scan barcodes for pricing.
Out of Milk™ provides for creating multiple shopping lists for different stores, as well as a pantry list to keep track of items you have in your kitchen. It’s available for Android and has a paid version ($4.99) with additional features.
Some apps don’t fit into a particular category, like FastMall™, which helps you navigate your way through a mall to your favorite shop. It’s available for the iPhone only.
Buzillions™ provides user-generated reviews of products, which help consumers make smart decisions about their purchases. It’s available on iPhone, Android, Windows 7, BlackBerry, and Palm Web OS.
Milo Local Shopping™ helps consumers find items in local stores and is available for Android users only.
As online and offline retailers see the benefit of making shopping easier for consumers, expect to see more mobile apps available, both from individual retailers as well as 3rd party developers.*The company, product and service names used in this article are for identification purposes only. All trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.