App Smart: Make Your Phone a Valuable Holiday Shopping Companion


GIFT-BUYING season has arrived, and you might as well save some money while you’re at it. Plenty of apps can help make you a smarter shopper.

It may seem obvious, but the Amazon app is an excellent tool to have on your phone as you peruse the offerings at your local mall.

The app’s product pages can provide information about an item that you may not learn from an in-store display, and if you prefer to order the item from Amazon instead of buying in the store, the app has a built-in product-recognition system. Simply hold the item in front of your phone’s camera and the app will show Amazon search results that match the product.

I often use Amazon’s app to compare prices and check customer reviews, which may help me decide what products to buy. But the app’s design is beginning to look a little dated, and the menus and interface can sometimes feel clunky and confusing. The app is free on iOS and Android.

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The Amazon app is a helpful tool while perusing the offerings in stores.

Clothing is a popular shopping category, and a number of apps can help you find just the right outfit for the right price. My favorite clothes shopping app that caters to high-end fashion is Farfetch. It focuses on luxury brands and designer labels, including many discounted items. When you sign up for a free account, you choose to shop for men or women and then are presented with a selected list of deals on many kinds of clothing.

From there, you can choose to filter items by designer or by criteria like “new in today” or “sales,” or you can search for specific items. The app has many images, making it easy to navigate various submenus for accessories or jewelry. You can swipe through the many photos on the screen once you have narrowed your search parameters.

When you find, say, a nice-looking pair of Jimmy Choos, you can tap to see more product details. Then you can check size information and the shipping policy, click the “order by phone” button or go to the website to type in any questions you have about the product before you buy it.

Farfetch is upfront about delivery and return policies, and in general it’s a breeze to use. The app is free on iOS and Android.

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The ASOS app, a photo-heavy online shopping app.

If you want to browse lower-price clothing, the ASOS app has you covered. Also a photo-centric online shopping app, ASOS features deals on clothing items that typically cost tens of dollars instead of hundreds. It, too, is free on iOS and Android.

ShopSavvy is a different kind of shopping app: It searches the internet constantly, looking for deals in different stores for various products, and then presents all the results as a news feed of deals. You can search for sales in different stores, including big retailers like Target, or scan a bar code or search for a particular product and then ask the app to check for an in-store deal on the item nearby.

You can even set up price-tracking alerts, so the app will let you know if the price of a particular item you are eyeing has gone down. This app is fun to use, and it could save you money. ShopSavvy is free on both iOS and Android.

Lastly, Purchx is an app with a mission similar to ShopSavvy’s: finding you good prices for items. But while ShopSavvy focuses on deals, Purchx also incorporates customer reviews, collecting them alongside information on current prices. If you are trying to decide between, say, two similar television sets, the data in Purchx can help inform your choice. Purchx isn’t the prettiest shopping app, but it works well and is free on iOS and Android.

Quick Call

Swaying is an iPhone video-making app with a twist: It uses a faux 3-D effect to let you see around an object in a video. It records a clip when you circle your phone around the object you want to capture, and in playback mode you rotate your phone to see around the item. Unusual and satisfying, Swaying is free on iOS.

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