3 Apps to Make Your Shopping Easier

Dollars & Sense on 11.04.11
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Photo: polycart/Creative Commons

I don't like going shopping. At all. Just the thought of finding parking, walking through crowded aisles, and waiting in long check-out lines makes my head ache. And don't even get me started on having to do all of that with a toddler in tow.

But occasionally, I find myself having to brave the stores (and sometimes the mall - ick!) because there are still things you can't shop for online. Seriously, what I wouldn't give to have my groceries delivered. Thankfully, there are a few apps available that make the experience less painful.

1. Key Ring - Many stores offer loyalty programs where you earn cash back or points for every purchase. To track your purchases you're given a plastic card with your membership barcode and it has to be scanned before you buy. I love those programs, but I don't enjoy having my key ring cluttered with a bunch of little tags. The Key Ring app stores your loyalty card information so that you can just scan your phone at check-out. Some merchants even load coupons. Simply sync the app to see what the latest deals are and if your cart contains something with a corresponding coupon, the discount is automatically deducted when your loyalty card is scanned. My local grocery store, Kroger, syncs coupons and it is a lifesaver.

2. Google Wallet - If you're an Android user, you might be interested in Google Wallet. Seeing as how our smartphones have already replaced portable music devices, cameras, and phone books, the wallet seems like the next logical step. Like Key Ring, you can store loyalty program info and coupons, but you can also save a virtual copy of your credit card. Currently, it's only open to people who use a Citi Mastercard, but Google expects to add more banks/credit providers. When you shop at a participating merchant, you need only tap your smartphone against the card reader and your purchase amount will automatically be deducted from your card balance. You can also purchase a prepaid Google card and load it with any dollar amount you choose.

3. RedLaser - RedLaser has taken barcode scanners to a whole new level. I try to do all of my shopping research before I leave the house so I can hit one store with the best deal on what I need. Sometimes, you'll see an item you just have to have, but you don't want to buy it right away if it can be had for less elsewhere. RedLaser will tell you all the nearby stores selling the same item and where it can be found online. But it gets better! Scan a video game or console and it will bring up reviews. Scan a book and it will tell you if it's available at your nearest library. You can check food allergens and nutritional facts on food products. And if you see something you like, but you're not ready to purchase it on the spot, you can send the item's barcode to yourself as an email to remind you to shop for it later.

I'm still waiting for the day when I can buy something from my phone, while sitting on my sofa, and have it delivered within the hour, but until that day I guess I'll have to leave the house occasionally. And I don't mind so much, with apps like these. 

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