Just a few years ago, weekly circular advertisements were the best source for finding a great deal on big ticket purchases.
Ads would come in the Sunday paper or through the mail and tell you about all of the special prices retailers were offering on the purchase of your dreams. Often times, we shoppers learned when we arrived at the store that there was a bigger and better product available for purchase and we’d skip buying the advertised special in its entirety. This was the age of the circular, when getting shoppers in the door was a retailer’s main step in getting them to buy.
The circulars are still around in today’s internet age, but comparison shopping is worlds easier thanks to the World Wide Web.
Online comparison shopping has none of the sales pressure of in-store shopping, and it allows the buyer to look at a variety of products to find the exact item they want to purchase, and the specific retailer they’d like to purchase it from. However, for people who still shop more on impulse than research, there are tools for that too. Smart phones with online apps like TheFind and Amazon’s Price Check allow consumers check prices on similar products at a variety of other retailers for the lowest price point.
According to the article “Phone-Wielding Shoppers Strike Fear Into Retailers” in the December 16, 2010 issue of the Wall Street Journal, a new marketing portal has been opened with the insurgence of price checking apps.
The apps use GPS locating systems that can show the shopper which other nearby (and online) stores carry the products they’re looking for, and what they are charging. If you’re in a Best Buy looking at a laptop, you can enter in the UPC or model number into these apps and it will show you other retailers with the same product and their cost. Using this application, stores are actually able to market their product to consumers in other retail stores at the time when they are purchasing a product. Sure, you may incur a short drive or wait for the item to be shipped to your home, but to some people, saving significant money on the same product is worth it.
In a new phase of these smart phone applications, retailers will actually place ads for consumers to see while they are shopping in competitors’ stores.
The WSJ article speaks about how a comparison shopper in Wal-Mart checking on the price of a television could see a targeted advertisement on TheFind’s app that would direct them to similar product at Best Buy. If you’re using TheFind app in a Best Buy and find a lower price at another store, the app will target the consumer one last time with a Best Buy ad to try and keep the shopper spending their money there rather than elsewhere. Shoppers must opt-in to receive these advertisements, but the direct manner in which shoppers can now be targeted is fascinating.
Businesses are always looking for the best ways to target consumers who are ready to purchase. With the boom in technology in our hands in the form of the smart phone, consumers and retailers are able to have their needs met at the exact moment when people are looking for deals on the items they purchase. If you’re a budget minded consumer who is always looking for the next great deal, applications like TheFind or Amazon’s Price Check could be the answer to your prayers.