How mobile apps are disrupting retailers: the PriceCheck example

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Did you know that you can now compare prices of goods between supermarkets, while standing in one of them? Imagine, walking through Woolworths, thinking about buying a two litre bottle of cola, but by scanning it’s barcode, you find that it costs R5 less in a Pick ‘n Pay nearby.

This is now totally possible, and a bit scary for retailers. A great example of this comes from Price comparison service PriceCheck. The company has launched the latest version of its app, which now allows you to scan bar codes of almost any supermarket product and see comparative prices at competing stores.

“Fifty-percent of consumers are spending more than half of their total shopping time researching products online or using their mobile device. Our Mobile site gets in excess 100 000 visit per month. These numbers are growing, and what we’ve done is make it easy for even our least tech-savvy users to get the maximum benefit from their mobile devices. By keeping it simple and easy to navigate, we’ve brought comparison shopping to consumers, right in the store. This App works, and it works really well”, says Andre De Wet, CEO of PriceCheck, shedding light on the decision to increase mobile exposure and awareness.

This new move may come as a wake-up call to retailers, who are protected from comparative advertising outside of their stores, only to now realize that shoppers can see competing brands while standing right in their own aisles. What’s more, the information is coming up on their own phone from their own actions, far more trusted than push-advertising in the retail environment.

So is it really much of a difference to people researching comparisons at home? The answer an emphatic yes, because this information sways a customer right at the point of the purchasing decision. We are moving towards mobile comparison shopping. Google SA’s statistics show that around 62% of Smartphone users have used their mobile phones to do a product search, with over 26% of users having changed their mind as a result of the information obtained while shopping in-store.

PriceCheck is a part of what one may call the mobile revolution, which sees two trends come strongly to the fore, globally and regardless of device type:

  1. The mobile device becoming people’s primary source of computing.
  2. The merging of the online and physical worlds

And it’s not only PriceCheck affecting in-store purchases — shoppers are turning more often to their phones to make purchasing decisions, both worldwide and in South Africa. While browsing shelves, chances are that shoppers are browsing websites as well, at the same time.

Retailers now need to think carefully about pricing and watch competitors more closely. Not only that, but to entice a healthy stream of foot traffic and keep it buying more and more often, they will have to increase efforts at customer engagement in-store. Look out for better pricing, stronger loyalty programs and an increased level of retail service.

PriceCheck’s app is available on Android, iOS, BlackBerry and the Samsung app store.

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