Comparison Shopping with Amazon on a Smart Phone

I dislike paying full price for an item. I love getting a bargain. I love using my (expensive) little smart phone (and its accompanying expensive little service plan) to help me get an even bigger bargain.

Product DetailsProduct Details Amazon has two apps that help save a lot of money. The first is Amazon Mobile (the icon on the left) and the other is Amazon Price Check (the icon on the right). The Amazon Mobile app lets shop, check prices, check out, and more, where the Price Check app simply checks prices and shows the product details (including reviews).

The Price Check app is really easy to use. You’ll need to download it to your device (Amazon’s help is here). When you open the app, you’ll see this screen:

You have four options to enter a product:

  • Type It – Tap in the area to activate your on-screen keyboard to enter the item.
  • Scan It – Tap this button to activate the camera to scan a bar code.
  • Snap It – Tap this button to activate the camera to take a picture of it (works best with books and CDs).
  • Say It – Activates the voice recognition so you can speak the name of the item.

Since pretty much all products that Amazon would carry have a bar code and I’m likely in the store looking at a package with a bar code, I usually select Scan It.

Note that you can help them by sharing in-store prices with Amazon, if you’re so inclined. Also note that it will save your recent price checks so you can use this as a quick reminder if you’d like to remember something until you get home, even if you don’t need a price check!

When you ask it to scan, you’ll see a screen instructing you to scan the barcode with your phone’s camera. Something similar to the picture to the left will be overlaid onto whatever your camera is pointing to. Simply put the red line over the complete bar code and it will automatically read it. Depending on the settings of the phone you may hear a beep and/or feel a vibration as it registers the code, then it will automatically find the product.

Is it not reading your bar code? Try pulling the camera further away from the bar code as it’s easy to be too close. Also try moving the product to make sure there’s no glare on the code or that the code gets better lighting.

If  Amazon locates the product in its database, you should see the results fairly quickly (almost instantly, if the network communications are fast). I scanned the bar code of a book I’m reading (which I recommend, BTW). You can see that other people recommend it, too, as it has 4.5 stars from 267 people who have commented.You see a short description and any purchasing information on Amazon’s site.

If you’re standing in a local store, you can choose to enter the price (or not). Or, if this isn’t the item you thought it was, you can report the mismatch to Amazon. You can also Share the item by clicking the Share icon/text, which offers you the option to share by e-mail, SMS (texting), Facebook, or Twitter. It’ll add a link to your message so you can tell someone else about the product. That could be useful, as in, “Honey, is THIS the right one?” or “Hint: this would make a spectacular gift for me your mom.” Or e-mail it to yourself as a reminder!

If you click on the product’s short description (or the “>” symbol), it brings up a screen with lots more information:

  • Review information by number of stars, with the ability to retrieve more review information
  •’s review of the product
  • The product description
  • Product details
  • Trade in price
  • Suggestions of products that were purchased by customers who bought the product you’re looking at
  • Other information specific to that product — in this case, an About the Author and Excerpt sections.

Each section is just an overview of just a few lines, but each has a “>” button to pull up more information, like all of the reviews, more details about the product, or whatever is pertinent. You can spend the rest of the day in your favorite store’s aisles comparing products by price and reviews!

Sometimes, though, it won’t find certain products. Like store brands. Don’t expect Amazon to have products specific only to a particular store! House brands are obvious, but less obvious are name-brand products with a model number specific to one store (Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, etc.). That particular Oster blender model might only be sold at Wal-Mart.

The Amazon Mobile App

The Amazon Mobile app has a couple of extra features. It opens with a screen shown on the left. Tap on the “Search” area to get bring up the search feature, where you can type (or talk, using the microphone key on the on-screen keyboard), scan it, or snap it. However you decide to search, you’ll get all the results in Amazon’s database.

Clicking on one of the matching products give a richly detailed page, much like one you’d get if you were on Amazon’s website on your computer. You won’t need to use the “>” button to get more information as much as the Price Checker app.

The really cool feature is found by scrolling to the bottom of the results page. You can buy it now, add it to your cart (so it’ll be there on your computer when you get home), or — and this is the really cool feature — add it to your wish list. So, I can go to my favorite discount store, determine that I really want that item on my gift list! Friends and family can then look up what I want!

Even better, I can make lists for my spouse, children, parents, siblings, neighbors, or even home improvement ideas, and add items to those lists by scanning the bar codes! How cool is that!

Of course, the item has to be sold by Amazon to be added to the list like this. Boutique items, local items, and store-specific items won’t be in the list. But most children’s toys and brand-name items (including food items) will be there.

So, now you know how to find reviews and prices in Amazon from your cell phone! And, you know that the Price Check application will keep a list of the last few price checks you’ve done, allowing you to go home and research further. You can email the item to others (or yourself). And the Amazon Mobile app can save them to your cart or wish list, opening up even more opportunities to remember gift items or keep a list of ideas going to wait to see if they go on sale.

There are other cool shopping apps out there, too. But Amazon’s seem to be the most comprehensive and useful for the majority of users. Don’t hesitate to experiment at home to get the hang of it. There are plenty of items that have bar codes in your house! I hope you find it as useful as I have.





































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