Five easy-to-use apps for comparison shopping

Your smartphone can make shopping more efficient and cost effective with the help of these five handy shopping apps.

Video: Shop smarter with the help of these five apps

We all shop. There's no way around it. Sometimes we shop to fill our personal needs and sometimes we shop to take care of our businesses. No matter the reason, you want to shop responsibly and save as much money as you can.

Prior to smartphone technology, comparison shopping meant flipping through advertisements and making note of prices for the goods you wanted. Now? You can simply open an app, scan an item, and find the best available price.

Let's take a look at five great apps that can streamline your shopping chores and help you save money.

Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.

1: RedLaser

RedLaser (Figure A) is one of the most popular comparison-shopping apps around. It was developed by eBay (hence you'll most often see Ebay results at the top), but it does a great job of finding the best prices. You can search items by entering search terms, scanning a barcode (or QR code), or looking through popular items and trending deals.

Figure A

Figure A

The latest iteration of the app includes a beta version of the Store Alerts feature, which allows you to get alerts when a store is featuring a great deal. RedLaser is free and available for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.

2: ShopSavvy

ShopSavvy (Figure B) is another barcode scanner that promises to save you money. With this app, you'll want to focus your efforts on items over $10 (otherwise, deals will most likely not appear). One of the best features is the ability to set notifications when a deal is found on items you have flagged. Just search for an item and tap the Notify button, and you'll be alerted when a sale is found on it. You can also share sales with other shoppers by tapping the + button in the action bar. There's a tab for location-based sales, too.

Figure B

Figure B

The only caveat here is that you aren't presented with nearly the results returned by RedLaser, and sometimes (especially with specialized items) the deals aren't as good as you'd expect. But on standard items, ShopSavvy is fairly, well, savvy. It's available free for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.

3: BuyVia

BuyVia might be just what you're looking for if you want to add a bit of couponing into the mix. It gives you price comparisons for national and local outlets and lets you set up alerts for products. One really nice feature of BuyVia is the ability to scan a UPC barcode while in a store and find out if that price is the lowest available.

Figure C

Figure C

BuyVia also does a great job of easing up on the tech lingo to make shopping for tech hardware much easier for the average user. Get BuyVia for Androidor iOS.

4: ScanLife Barcode & QR Reader

ScanLife Barcode & QR Reader (Figure D) gives you access to deals from thousands of national and local stores. However, with this particular app, you can't search for items. Instead, you have to either use the scanner or follow a feed of deals scanned by other users. You can configure your interests (from within Settings) to help make the feed more specific to your needs.

Figure D

Figure D

Configuring interests requires you to rate categories (Health and Beauty, Lifestyle and Home, Going Out, Sport, Food and Drink, etc.). Once you've updated your interests, the feed will automatically change to reflect the personalization. It works well but doesn't always guarantee you'll find a deal on something you want. For that, stick with the scanner. Scanlife is free for Android and iOS.

5: ShopAdviser

ShopAdviser (Figure E) calls itself "your personal concierge for fashion, tech, decor, and more." You search for an item (or scan) and the app will reveal results (and related results) from a number of locations. You can then "love" results, which will appear in your Love section.

Figure E

Figure E

From your results, you can tap on an item and then tap Turn On Alerts to get pinged when a deal for the item becomes available. When you turn on an alert, you can either go with the default (an alert when the price drops) or set your own price threshold for an item. This last feature makes ShopAdviser one of the best comparison-shopping tools on the market. ShopAdviser is available free for Android and iOS.

Convenience + cost savings

If you're looking for ways to get the best deal on products from online and local stores, you can't go wrong with any of these comparison-shopping tools. Give one of them a try and see if it doesn't make the arduous task of shopping a bit easier... and a bit cheaper.

Your picks

Do you have a favorite shopping app that didn't make this list? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.

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