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Price-comparison apps shaking up traditional retail

Interesting piece in the Age online today discussing the growing use of price comparison mobile phone apps, that allow shoppers to scan the barcode of products in store and get a real-time comparison of prices from competing retailers.

This is a development on the growing phenomenon of “Showrooming” – customers inspecting goods in-store and then purchasing online to extract further discounts. The growth in mobile internet use  – in January mobile searches on Google surpassed desktop searches – adds a new dimension to the space, with a host of apps now available to shoppers looking for bargains.

In Australia major retailers Woolworths, Big W and Sportsgirl have all launched apps in recent months and working to develop effective mobile models. Big W’s app, for instance, allows shoppers to scan barcodes in rival stores like K-Mart and get the comparable price at Big W. The service is being developed to increase the range and include detailed product specs and, according to corporate affairs manager, Clare Buchanan, the upgrades will connect to online shopping to enable customers to compare prices as well as buy instantly from Big W for home delivery or layby. ”Even when you’re standing in Kmart,” Ms Buchanan said. ”It will also give customers tracking information about the progress of their order and SMS them when it’s about to be delivered.”

Retailers who have been sheltered from price competition in the past will face increasing pressures to adapt to these new technologies, or face the prospect of further erosion of sales.

In coming posts, I’ll examine strategies retailers are adopting to combat the effects of Showrooming, and look at ways to use this new technology to help drive sales.

Stay tuned..!