App-y holiday season for shoppers

HANDY: Snapette directs shoppers to an in-store product, or lets them buy it directly from the app.


    Nov 25, 2013

    App-y holiday season for shoppers


    WHEN Ms Georgia Benjamin goes holiday shopping this year, her smartphone will be her guide, pointing her to the items she is seeking and the best deals.

    A Londoner working in New York as a fashion-design intern, Ms Benjamin said she has been using Snapette, a mobile app that allows her to find items in nearby retail stores.

    "If I'm looking for a pair of sunglasses, I will type in the brand name," she said. "And it will alert me if a store nearby has a promotion."

    As the holiday shopping season opens, shoppers will be armed with smartphones and an array of apps. Some will compare prices, offer gift suggestions, provide price alerts and more.

    Snapette says nearly two million people have downloaded the app for iOS and Android handsets. It fills a need for people who want to use online tools, but shop in local stores.

    "Over 85 per cent of retail sales is happening in stores, but there wasn't a great way to search for or discover products nearby," said Ms Sarah Paiji, co-founder and president of Snapette. "We want to enable shoppers to shop in the real world as well as online."

    Snapette, which was acquired by online commerce site PriceGrabber, has data from some 270 United States retailers and can direct consumers to an in-store product, but also allows them to buy online directly from the app.

    Scores of other smartphone apps can also be used by on-the-go shoppers. Amazon has one allowing a price check with online retailers. Others can deliver digital coupons. One called RedLaser will scan a bar code and tell a shopper if a product is less expensive somewhere else.

    In recent years, consumers have been driven to a practice known as "showrooming", the act of visiting a store to see a product, then purchasing it online at a lower price.

    But Ms Paiji said using apps like Snapette is the "reverse of showrooming", because such apps encourage people to buy products in stores.