Mobility

Why you should be using mobile shopping apps

If you consider yourself above using your mobile device for the purpose of shopping, Jack Wallen challenges you to think again.

Image: iStock/Denys Prykhodov

You shop. Period. Everyone does. It doesn't matter who you are, but at some point in your week, you will shop. You might have to rush out of the office and pick up a laundry list of IT supplies. You might be the designated staff member to refill the community fridge. You might have been instructed by the wife or husband to pick up the ingredients for dinner on the way home.

You will shop. If you happen to hold the power of mobility in the palm of your hand, you'll shop smart. How do you do that? You can tackle the task in two different ways:

  • Grab a Post-it and jot down what you need to pick up (and where from)
  • Open up a shopping app and enter what you need

For some, the tried and true Post-it note works fine. It has for decades, right? So why bother evolving your process to better fit modern day conveniences? After all, someone will be monitoring what you shop for and probably start forcing ads onto your mobile device for toilet paper, broccoli, tampons, and soda pop. Right?

The truth is, there are certain categories of mobile apps that are created to make life easier. And when you are working in a mad-dash pace five days a week, every second you can get back from daily duties adds up by the end of the week. And yet there are still those that believe the shopping app is below them.

Get this ... Forbes believes that shopping apps will be the single fastest growing category of mobile applications in 2015. In fact, shopping app sessions have grown steadily (since 2013) at 174% annually (even more so on Android). Why? Simple. First and foremost, the exponential growth of mobile usage is a clear indicator how people are interacting online (hint: It's not on their desktops). Second, people are no longer limiting their smartphone usage to the consumption of content—the devices are being used for everything from interacting with climate control devices (such as Nest) and shopping.

But we all know this, right? All you have to do is walk down the street, ride a bus, or step onto a college campus to see that the average user barely lifts their eyes from their mobile screens. You may stand firm that an overwhelming majority of those users are doing little more than updating their social networking status (and in certain circles, that belief would be very true). But it has now become impossible to deny that ecommerce is part and parcel to the mobile experience. From shopping list apps, to online retailers, to price comparison, to mobile payments (sending and receiving).

But we're the drivers of the mobile revolution, right? We are IT. We create the systems that keep those end user's eyes buried in their devices. We don't shop online, we make online shopping happen.

The big question for me is why? Why don't we (as a collective) shop online?

Making use of the very apps, services, and systems we create does one thing—it makes our lives easier. This is a case of eating our own dog food (you know that phrase as well as you know "All your base"). Remember the very reasons why the apps were created. All of those shopping tools exist for a reason. Convenience.

Consider this. With a single shopping list app (such as Listonic), you can:

  • Create categories for items
  • Create lists on a per-store basis
  • Create quick lists based on most shopped for items
  • Share lists with others (family, friends, staff, etc)
  • Real-time syncing (to other devices running the same app)
  • Add prices for comparison
  • Associate items with aisles within a store (so you're not desperately hunting for gravy as your stomach is grumbling)

That's just the tip of a very large iceberg. And the shopping list isn't the only tool you can place in this newfound toolkit. Consider:

  • Ecommerce apps (such as Square) which allow you to take payments on a mobile device and transfer said payments to your bank account
  • Price comparison apps (such as ShopSavvy Barcode Scanner) which make it simple to find the best prices on items
  • Fund transfer apps (such as Google Wallet) which allow you to effortlessly transfer funds to other users
  • Vendor specific shopping apps (such as Amazon Shopping) which allow you to quickly shop for products through a single, well-designed app

Mobility and ecommerce are just beginning to merge into one seamless, unstoppable juggernaut. This means it is time to give up the attitude that shopping apps (of any nature) are off the radar for IT pros. No matter how you try to recode it, we are consumers. To that end, why not make use of an app (or apps) dedicated to helping life be more efficient and productive? After all, aren't most IT pros all about productivity?

It's time to toss the Post It note method and embrace your inner shopper with a nod to mobility. For the family, for the company, for the team ... for the sake of your waning sanity.

Have you discovered a mobile shopping app you cannot live without? If so, share it with your fellow TechRepublic readers.

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About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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