The following is a great example of how my ShopSavvy smartphone app seriously educated me on how sometimes, the price differences can be big enough to pay attention to.
The first thing I’m going to point out is that some stores, you might expect higher prices. How much higher, consumers may not really care about. But then then there are store franchises that surprise a consumer because you’d expect their prices to be competitive. They have reputations, or images of being the discounted store.
I was once pretty surprised by a price of a product at Costco a few years ago, and later in this piece, you’ll see how shocking of a price difference I found at Fry’s for a random product I picked up.
Onward with the piece:
First up… Interesting Sticker Price Tactics
I was just shopping in Cheeky Monkey in downtown Menlo Park, CA. (It’s a toy store with lots of yummy fun goodies for the little ones in our lives.) I had noticed an item I wanted to snag for my nephew and thought I would do some “comparison shopping.”
In this day and age, comparison shopping means pulling out your favorite smartphone (like my Verizon Wireless Motorola Droid) and pulling up a very cool app called ShopSavvy.
What ShopSavvy does is it reads the bar code that comes on a product package and then goes out and finds the product, both online and as offered in brick-and-mortar stores.
It’s a pretty handy tool to have at your disposal, though I would recommend using it as quietly or sneaky as you can. Some stores seem to frown on this practice of comparison shopping while in their establishments.
But on this particular day I was slightly taken aback (though it makes sense) in that the product bar code I was going to scan had Cheeky Monkey’s price tag over it! Wha!? I picked up a second item of the same nature and it too had the bar code covered. I started looking around the store and to their credit and my surprise, every single item in the store had their bar codes covered with sticker prices.
Now granted, we’re two steps away from Atherton, CA, one of the most expensive zip codes in the country, and people here do have money to spend. So they might not notice. And granted, I will bite the bullet on some costs to be able to walk to my shopping destination and spend a few dollars. (I weigh in my own time, distance, fuel and frustration factors.)
But I did manage to do some a few price checks and it was as I expected. You see, ShopSavvy will also take typed/spoken input so I could tell it a product name and it will pull up a few likely candidates. I choose the right one and it still does what I want, which was to compare the prices.
What I found was that that $15 item in the store cost just over $10 online. A second randomly chosen item in the store that cost $30, cost $18 online, and $24 at other local retailers. (But Sears is 10 miles away, and I’m here now!)
First, I am not picking on Cheeky Monkey. It just happened to be the store I picked up on the bar code blocking technique. I’m still willing to shop there. The service is great, the staff attentive and I wouldn’t hop in a car to drive at 10 miles. And I have to weigh out my brick-and-mortar price versus an online price and the shipping you will be charged if you order online.
With that said, I still have to protect my smart consumer readers. That means I would still suggest taking a step back if you encounter a business that stickers over every bar code on their products. I’d also suggest weighing out what it’s worth to you in time and money when you find the store you’re in has bigger prices than you thought they might have.
But the bottom line is that my ShopSavvy smartphone app is totally awesome! It helps me keep smart about my shopping.
My Surprise Franchise Discovery:
I was in Fry’s showing a buddy my ShopSavvy aapp nd I randomly picked up an item from an aisle end-cap to show him how it worked. I snagged the Logitech S715i Rechargeable Speaker. At Fry’s, it was listed for around $140. And wow, did I pick good example! Online, at reputable sources, the speaker could be had for $70. (Shipping is probably hefty. It was a heavy item.) In local retailers, I could go down the street to Best Buy and snag this for $120.
So once again, if I did some pre-shopping and researched my prices, Fry’s was not the least expensive option. Like Costco, Fry’s opened my eyes.
So the bottom line, if you have a smartphone, you should check out the ShopSavvy app!