In previous discussions I have mentioned some apps and other tools that I find useful in my holiday shopping so I thought I would  take this time to bring together the tools that I have found most useful.  As a general strategy for incorporating tools into my shopping I find that I work best with tools that work just as well on my smartphone as a computer.  This is important to me because shopping is best I think when you have the options to see and touch some of the merchandise, I don’t require this for every purchase but I do find it works best for some products. 

All that said though I try to limit my in person shopping to short bursts, I follow a purchase method rather than shopping when I go to a store.  What I mean by this is I’ve determined what I need, I go in, purchase and then get out.  I bring this up now because it is a guiding force for the tools and my utilization of the tools.  I use the tools for two things:

  1. General shopping and narrowing the search for my purchase.
  2. Pricing comparisons to determine my method of purchase.

Frankly I find that email is one of the most valuable tools in my shopping.  I have configured my email to fill all shopping type messages into one folder.  This allows me to quickly review, and ignore, any commerce type messages without ‘junking’ up my important messages.  This practice allows me to quickly and easily review messages as necessary, during the holiday season I pay a little more attention and then during the off season I frequently just delete everything.  This also allows me to manage mail lists and create filter to manage the mail.

There are three services that I find very useful; Groupon, Crowdcut and LivingSocial.  Each of these provide great deals in both eCommerce and in person shopping.  I like these frankly for impulse type purchases rather than looking for specific products.  They are also good for gift ideas year round, I frequently find a great deal and then save the item for a future gift.  Crowdcut and LivingSocial are similar services and together all three provide great options for a wide variety of items.  These services also provide apps for your smartphone to allow easy access when you are not near your computer.

I have found a new app this year for use on my smartphone called RetailMeNot.  This is a very handy app that will alert you of sales and specials from a wide variety of retailers and you can utilize this for price comparisons and specials.  This app is more focused on eCommerce channels and specials.  I find this useful though even when shopping in malls because the direct shipment to my home is very convenient.

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

What types of cross channel services and offerings would you like to see to enhance your shopping experience?  Retailers are focused on maintaining sales volumes through reductions in pricing rather than expansion of sales, or even maintaining sales through creative utilization of eCommerce services. Did you shop over the Gray Thursday / Black Friday period?  What was your experience in stores and malls?