Scan Shopping

Some of you may have misread that title as “scam” shopping instead of “scan.”   That is intentional; but we’ll get to that later.  First, a report from the field.

My first smart phone was a blackberry.  I tried out this whole scanning bar codes kick on that phone and wasn’t too impressed.  Part of it was almost definitely the app itself, but I also blame the phone.  So I was kind of excited to give scan codes another try on my Android.

With all the chatter about shopping apps–mostly the Amazon app–I decided to check out this branch of the buzz.  Since I pretty much detest Amazon with every waking breath (apologies to all my dear friends who happen to work for the devil.  I still love you), I went for the Shop Savvy App.  Last week I played mall rat (browse the local mall with no definite purpose) purely to find things to scan.  I was a bit disappointed in the lack of QR codes, though that is another blog post for another day.  I wound up in Barnes & Noble (paradise!) and scanned a few books that had been on my wishlist for a while.  

So far I’m fairly impressed. The app was quick, didn’t require unnecessary interaction, and I gave me immediate access to reviews, alternate pricing online and in local stores.  The app even allows you to order from certain retailers (if you have your financials set up, which I do not as of yet) or go to their websites to order.  So far, I just added books to my wishlist–which is now an actual thing rather than just in my head. I was rather tickled about this experience; having never gotten these things to work before it was a new level of interaction for me.  To just scan something and have instant data, and to save it to a wishlist without typing into my phone!  Wonderful.

Enter controversy.  My husband and my best friend both (independently) raised a moral objection to going into a retail store, examining a product, scanning it, and then looking for better prices.  Both were particularly bothered by the idea of ordering the product from another store while standing in the aisle at the initial location.  This presents an interesting debate about consumer ethics and how mobile changes the retail market.  On a certain level, it could be seen as cheating, or like taking advantage of the retail store to go in and sample products (especially trying on clothes) and then ordering from somewhere else; especially if you had no intent to purchase from that store in the first place.  The beauty of the brick and mortar establishment is that you can interact the products: that’s almost the only selling point they have left (it is, admittedly, huge!).  What would happen to their business if every consumer used this tactic?  But is it really any different than if you walked to the other store, found the better price and then purchased it?  Or went home and looked online there before ordering from a different store?    Is there a line between the two, and if so where is it?


One thought on “Scan Shopping

  1. It’s a very interesting risk that has come to retailers. For years they’ve waged a war primarily around prices with coupons and clearance sales.getting full price relied on the consumer not knowing about competition pricing. Now that prices are widely available many retailers need to figure out how to compete on another level.
    That said, I’ve heard that stores like Best Buy are testing small stores where all you do is handle the gear and order online (hopefully via mobile).

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