June 7, 2011, 12:56 PM

Market America adds bar code scanning and a deal locator to its mobile app

The online marketplace says it may near $10 million in mobile sales this year.

Lead Photo

Consumers can use the Market America app to scan bar codes and compare prices.

Online marketplace Market America is seeking to ease the process of finding products and deals in the mobile realm by adding two new features, a bar code scanner and a deal locator, to its MA Mobile iPhone and Android apps. The tools are designed to help shoppers dig through the wide array of products offered by the marketplace’s 3,000 retailer partners and 150,000 individuals who operate Market America franchises in the marketplace, and the tens of thousands of special offers and coupons, Market America says.

The bar code scanner enables shoppers to scan the Universal Product Code, or UPC, found on all packaged goods. A shopper hovers her smartphone camera over a bar code and the app reads it and automatically searches the entire Market America database. It returns results showing which shops offer the product and at what price so consumers can compare prices to find the best deal. If there is not an exact match, the app displays related products.

The deal locator requires shoppers have a free registered account with the marketplace. The locator pulls up a list of all Market America merchants in alphabetical order. It displays the alphabet on the screen so shoppers can quickly get to the merchant they’re seeking. A shopper touches the name of a merchant and a checkbox appears. Checking the box will enable automatic deal searches, where the app twice a day checks that retailer to see if there are any new deals or coupons. If there are, the app sends a push notification—a window with a message that can include an alert sound or a graphic badge on the icon of the app—that alerts the shopper.

Market America has big aspirations in mobile commerce. It introduced its mobile app in February 2010 and says sales through the app in the first quarter of 2011 exceeded all 2010 sales. The retailer predicts mobile sales will increase five-fold in the next two years and anticipates nearing $10 million in total mobile sales this year.

“While the desktop computer is functional, we always have our smartphones with us. And now we’re increasingly carrying iPads and Android tablets, too,” says Kevin Curley, director of mobile for Market America. “The ease of having that always in hand combined with pushing notifications of deals will only give us more reach.”

Market America operates marketplaces in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Philippines. It offers mobile apps for customers in the U.S., Canada and Taiwan.

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