'Scan to compare' app a new shopping weapon
Thrifty shoppers have a new weapon to put the squeeze on retailers after The Warehouse released a smartphone app that lets consumers scan items in other shops to see if they can be bought more cheaply at the red shed.
The free app, Your Warehouse, is designed to take "comparison shopping" to a new level. Shoppers can scan the barcodes of items in other shops using the camera on an iPhone or Android smartphone and then check to see if they are for sale at The Warehouse and, if so, the price.
The Warehouse chief executive Mark Powell described the app as a "revolutionary first". But a Countdown spokeswoman said the barcode-scanning feature on its own shopping app could also be used in the same way.
A spokeswoman for The Warehouse later clarified its was the first "cross-category app" to let people scan-to-compare prices on a wide range of products from toys and books to clothes and technology items, not just groceries.
Retail consultant Cate Bryant believed Your Warehouse could be a powerful sales tool for The Warehouse. A similar app had been a hit for online giant Amazon in the United States, she said.
There were a variety of independent services, such as PriceMe and PriceSpy, that consumers could also use to check the prices of common products, such as electronics and whiteware, online. Ms Bryant said she would not be surprised if they also developed a barcode-scanning feature.
Retailers Association chief executive Mark Johnston said the variety of means consumers now had to compare prices meant that retailers needed to be competitive, but he doubted it would reach the point where they all needed to sell everything at the same price.