Shop Smarter With Apps

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Shop Smarter With Apps
Mario Tama/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Savvy shoppers go to retail armed with more than just their wallets. Smartphones are becoming an indispensable tool in the battle for stress-free shopping, with apps designed to help you save money and time, and even earn goodies for yourself.

RedLaser (iOS, Android, Windows Phone; free)
Photo courtesy RedLaser

RedLaser (iOS, Android, Windows Phone; free)

In the pre-smartphone days, comparing prices between a brick-and-mortar store and the Internet meant scoping out the item in person, then going home and manually searching for a better price. Now all you have to do is whip out your phone, scan the bar code or QR code with RedLaser and within a few seconds you’re presented with a well-organized list of locations and prices to choose from. If you don’t have a bar code to scan, you can also find products by keyword by taking a photo of the item and performing a reverse image search.

RedLaser

Shopkick (iOS, Android; free)
Photo courtesy Shopkick

Shopkick (iOS, Android; free)

It’s nice to get a little something for yourself, even when you’re shopping for other people. Shopkick makes collecting rewards points painless; just swipe through a list of offers from nearby retailers using the app, and the next time you visit the locations in person (with your smartphone), you’ll automatically earn points. You can also earn points by scanning certain items using the built-in bar code scanner. Once you’ve reached a certain threshold, points can be redeemed for rewards from Starbucks, Target, Coach and other retailers.

Shopkick

RetailMeNot (iOS, Android; free)
Photo courtesy RetailMeNot

RetailMeNot (iOS, Android; free)

If you’re a fan of the deals site RetailMeNot, you’ll find the app version just as useful. It provides a comprehensive list of stores with both online and in-store coupons, along with expiration dates and user comments. It’s easy to find deals based on your ZIP code, and in-store coupons can be redeemed directly from your phone.

RetailMeNot Mobile

GeoQpons (iOS, Android, BlackBerry; free)
Photo courtesy GeoQpons

GeoQpons (iOS, Android, BlackBerry; free)

GeoQpons is a deal-finding app that searches coupons based on your ZIP code and sorts them by offers from major retailers and local businesses. Local deals aren’t limited to retailers; you’ll also find service businesses like salons, spas and restaurants listed. Most coupons can be scanned directly from your phone; the app displays a warning notification for deals that may require printing.

GeoQpons

PriceGrabber (iOS, Android; free)
Photo courtesy PriceGrabber

PriceGrabber (iOS, Android; free)

PriceGrabber is the mobile extension of the popular shopping comparison website, and it works in much the same way -- enter the product you want to buy, and the app pulls up a list of stores carrying the item along with pricing information for comparison, local deals (when available) and a product description. Other features include the Gift Shaker, gift randomizer which allows you to specify a category and price range and displays potential gift items that match, along with a bar code scanner for quickly locating a product.

PriceGrabber Mobile Apps

eBay Mobile (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry; free)
Photo courtesy eBay Mobile

eBay Mobile (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry; free)

If there’s one thing eBay fanatics know, it’s that when you really want to win an auction, those last few seconds are crucial. With eBay Mobile, you can breathe a little easier and unchain yourself from your computer; the app notifies you if you’re outbid or if an auction that you’re following is about to close. The interface is simple but robust, making it painless to bid on or create auctions directly from your phone.

eBay Mobile

Amazon Mobile (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry; free)
Photo courtesy Amazon Mobile

Amazon Mobile (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry; free)

Amazon’s app makes it easy to find the product you’re looking for, add it to your cart or wish list, and check out without ever having to boot up your computer. In addition to the usual keyword and bar code search (both of which work very well), it also includes a reverse image search function -- just snap a photo of the item you want to find and Amazon will attempt to match it to one of the millions of products in their database.

Amazon Mobile for iPhone

Yelp (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry; free)
Photo courtesy Yelp

Yelp (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry; free)

Yelp isn’t exactly a shopping app, but it’s a great resource for user-generated reviews of local businesses, covering just about any type of business you can imagine -- restaurants, retailers, salons, you name it. In particular, you might want to use it to scope out businesses before buying gift certificates or to find a great meal after a long day of holiday shopping. The app also has a deals section, where you can unlock specials at restaurants and stores.

Yelp for Mobile

DealNews.com Black Friday (iOS, Android; free)
Photo courtesy DealNews.com

DealNews.com Black Friday (iOS, Android; free)

On Black Friday, the best deals go on sale early and sell out in minutes. Save time and money this year by planning your shopping in advance using the DealNews.com Black Friday app. The app collects all the Black Friday sales in a format that’s easy to navigate; you can save individual items to your shopping list and even view a price comparison to help you decide if it’s really a bargain worth braving the crowds for.

DealNews Black Friday App

Santa’s Bag (iOS; $1.99)
Photo courtesy Santa’s Bag

Santa’s Bag (iOS; $1.99)

Make holiday shopping a snap with Santa’s Bag, an app that helps you manage gift lists for the people in your life. The app allows you to set a budget for each person and watch it fill up as you check off the gifts you’ve already bought, which helps you avoid overspending, and gift statuses -- including To Buy, Purchased, Wrapped and Given -- keep you organized and on track.

Santa's Bag

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