Consumers already use their phones to communicate with friends and family. Now a new mobile app helps consumers communicate to gather shopping advice.
The free app, launched by web and mobile technology provider Zappli Inc., is called myShopanion and is for now available solely on the iPhone.
MyShopanion calls itself a mobile shopping advisor, an apt description.
Consumers can scan a bar code or enter a search term such as Ray Ban men’s metal aviator sunglasses, and the app will search the web for product reviews, descriptions and prices—including shipping fees—at thousands of retailers including Amazon.com and Buy.com. As helpful as that can be, the app goes one step further by enabling users to share the product on Facebook, Twitter or to e-mail it to ask friends their opinions.
This allows friends to see what a myShopanion app user is considering buying, even if they don’t have the app. If two friends both have the app, they can share shopping feeds to show each other what they have bought or are considering, Zappli says.
Bar code scanning apps are attracting attention, including from big e-commerce players. In June, eBay purchased RedLaser, a mobile app for scanning bar codes, from Boulder, CO-based startup Occipital.
RedLaser, which Occipital launched last year, enables in-store shoppers to comparison shop on the spot. Shoppers hold an iPhone up to a product and RedLaser scans the bar code, identifies the item and product details, and searches the web for similar products. RedLaser has been downloaded more than two million times, according to eBay. It used to cost $1.99, but eBay now offers the app for free.
However, RedLaser and other bar code apps don’t have the social sharing capabilities of myShopanion, says Philippe Suchet, founder of Zappli. “As consumers, we strive to make informed purchase decisions based on insights, reviews, and advice from our friends, he says. “In reality, it’s hard to have all those insights at hand when it comes time to actually buy an item. MyShopanion brings together the two hottest trends in retail—social and mobile—to help consumers address this dilemma.”
Suchet says the app generates revenue via a per-click fee it charges for when users check out prices using the app and then visit the retailer's site. Additionally, when users view ads targeted to them, called impressions, or act on tailored offers such as coupons, the advertiser pays myShopanion a fee.