September 19, 2012, 9:33 AM

The new RedLaser 4.0 app uses GPS to cozy up to stores

Best Buy is one of the first merchants using the app to drive in-store sales.

Lead Photo

RedLaser 4.0 can detect when a user is inside a specific Best Buy store.

Comparison shopping app RedLaser, which was purchased by eBay Inc. in 2010, has unveiled an updated version of its app called RedLaser 4.0.

And, in a change of pace from the app’s original main use, RedLaser 4.0 offers a feature designed to help drive store sales. That’s a difference from the old version of the app, which consumers mainly used to scan bar codes and QR codes on packages in stores and then look for lower prices for the same goods online.

That shopping comparison feature is still a part of the app, but now RedLaser 4.0 includes In-Store Experience, which uses a smartphone’s GPS to tell when a shopper is in a local store and customize what it shows her based on that store. Best Buy is the first merchant using In-Store Experience.

“To date, RedLaser has been used widely in local stores, but often we just tell the customer where else to buy a product,” says Rob Veres, general manager of RedLaser. “With the In-Store Experience, though, we’re able to actually identify that the customer is in a Best Buy store, and customize what we show the customer based on that. So, we can supply more information about what’s actually available at the Best Buy the customer is in.”

As part of RedLaser’s deal with Best Buy stores, the two have wirelessly geofenced Best Buy’s 1,100 locations so that shoppers can see special offers once they step in a store, including discounted open-stock items in that store. The geofence detects the presence of a smartphone with a Best Buy app through the GPS built into the phone. The app also offers information on installation services and warranties offered in each store.

“We can show accessories that might go with a product the customer intends to purchase,” Verse says. “If you’re buying a digital camera, we might show a recommended lens for it. We’ve added quite a few deals into the app, available at many merchants. You can get coupons that you can display with our app and use at checkout at a local store.”

RedLaser 4.0 also enables shoppers to buy and pay for products from online stores, including Best Buy, Toys ‘R’ Us and GNC, with the app using PayPal and have goods shipped to their homes. Additionally, consumers can also pay with PayPal and pick-up in a store for purchases at Best Buy or Toys ‘R’ Us.

EBay would not say how it is making money from RedLaser. However, the company will collect a small fee from a merchant each time a customer pays with PayPal, because PayPal is owned by eBay.

Other new features in RedLaser 4.0 include:

  • The ability to search for coupons and offers from stores.
  • Product recommendations based on what a shopper has previously searched for via the app.
  • The ability to see what others shoppers are scanning at any given moment.
  • A feature that enables shoppers to store all their retailer loyalty cards in the app and notifies customers of deals at those retailers.

The new RedLaser 4.0 is available now for Apple Inc.’s iPhone and is coming soon to smartphones using Google Inc.’s Android operating system. Users who already have the RedLaser app can update their previous version to RedLaser 4.0.

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