By Nicole Freeman:
I’ve always been a fan of online shopping: I’ve bought and sold dozens of items on Craigslist and eBay; I’m always looking for bargains on daily deal sites like Groupon and Living Social; and I’m not ashamed to admit that most of my Christmas shopping is done at Amazon.
But these days, I’m no longer hunting for bargains in front of a computer screen. My online shopping has gone mobile and my smartphone has become my money-saving friend.
In many ways, taking my smartphone to the mall provides me with the best possible shopping experience. Instead of relying on screen images, I get to browse a real store, see the latest trends, and feel the quality of the merchandise. And if I see something I like, my smartphone can read the barcode and instantly let me know where I can get the lowest possible price. Some apps will even hunt for coupons and let me order the item right there and then.
If you love to go to the stores but still want the lowest possible price, then smartphone shopping is definitely the way to go. Here are just a few of my favorite smartphone shopping apps:
Probably one of the most popular shopping apps, Google Shopper does it all: it reads the barcode, tells you all about the product, searches for the best price at nearby stores or online, and lets you order right from your phone. You can use Google Shopper to comparison shop for virtually anything, including groceries. The latest version includes daily deals from Google Offers and features to bookmark bargains or share them with friends.Platform: iPhone, iPad, Android
One of the original barcode scanners and still one of the best. Almost impossible to come up with a product it can’t find. And it also reads those funny new QR codes. The Red Laser app searches for prices using Google, Shopping.com, eBay, American Express, and more. A new feature now allows in-app purchasing for home delivery or in-store pickup.Platform: iPhone, iPad, Android
Yowza!! Mobile Coupons
Yowza!! is one of the first of a rising crop of mobile couponing apps, which let you just show your smartphone at checkout to take advantage of the discount. Thousands of coupons can be searched by category or store. The only drawback is that most of these couponing apps are signing up merchants from the big cities first, so although you will find some coupons from the national chain stores, local independents may not be so well served. The Coupons App and CouponSherpa are other highly-regarded couponing apps.Platform: iPhone, iPad (requires iOS 5), Android
If you really like to shop, then you might need an app to help you stay within your budget. Lemon scans all your receipts and organizes them into easy-to-understand categories and reports, telling you exactly what you have been spending your money on. If you don’t have a receipt, you can still enter a purchase manually. Lemon will let you establish up to 10 accounts, so you can track spending for every member of the family.Platform: iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry