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Barcode Shopping – The Future Of mCommerce?

Posted by Lester Madden under General, Smartphones

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About 3 weeks ago I was I taking to a buddy of mine in the US about the next killer application for the smartphone. One of the ideas we spoke about was using the camera on a smartphone to lookup prices on products to see if they could be found cheaper elsewhere.

So lets imagine you are out in your local shopping mall looking to buy yourself a new hifi, you go into a shop, spot what you want. Do you buy it there and then or do you walk around for another 2 hours looking to see if you can shave off a few pounds from the price?

I saw a TV ad yesterday for the T-Mobile network here in the UK where they were promoting an application called ShopSavvy. ShopSavvy is an application for the Android G1 phone which lets you take picture of a products barcode, it then uploads it to a products database and returns a list of prices so you can compare. ShopSavvy have take it even further by integrating into Google maps and your presence data to show you stores in your current area and the retail price they charge so you can compare and take advantage of the best price. And as you have the map you’ll easily be able to find your way to the shop and making a saving.

ShopSavvy was the worthy winner of the Google Android challenge, a great example of taking advantage of a phones capabilities, integrating with maps and doing something useful, and not just bring a bunch of services together for the sake of it. It sounds like a fantastic application (shame I was too late with the idea). I haven’t tired it, but I hope it also looks at online stores, eg Amazon as I rarely go into stores these days.

I did a search on the web to find out more and was surprised to find that some people have been told to stop using the application when they have visited stores, claiming it’s against store policy. Just what kind of policy that is I have no idea. Presumably they have no objection to you phoning someone and asking to check the price of the product on the web.

There is a great article about barcode shopping here. If you read thought the article they link to a retail information website that advises companies to invest in cell phone jammers to prevent people using their phones in the store, and they have even prepared a ‘no cell phone’ logos they suggests store owners to put up in the store.


That’s the beauty of disruptive technologies, they cause controversy. When email got really big the post office were claiming that no one would send letters any more and they’d go bust. When eCommerce started and suddenly we found that we could shop online and save a fortune, the post office suddenly found they were shipping more products (look at the number of Amazon books shipped) while stores began complaining about not being able to compete. Years later, all major stores have an online shopping presence. With mCommerce and products like ShopSavvy stores should embrace it, if you can drive a customer out of a competitors store and into yours then haven’t you won?

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Reader's Comments

  1. Nokia PointAndFind | Life as a Developer Marketing Manager |

    [...] wrote about barcode shopping last month for the Google [...]

  2. Location based services? barcode comparison? … and other disruptive ideas | digital wellbeing labs |

    [...] Barcode Shopping – The Future Of mCommerce?, Lester Madden Tagged as: augmented reality, business models, design, geocode, gps, high-street, location, mobile, price comparison, public space, retail, urban planning [...]

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