Shopping online at retailer websites is convenient and fun, but new apps for tablets and smartphones take it to a whole new level, notes ShopSmart, the shopping magazine from the publisher of Consumer Reports. They make shopping even easier because you can do it not just anytime but also anywhere.
More and more retailers are coming out with mobile apps, and shoppers are jumping onboard. Target says that 30 percent of its digital traffic comes from mobile devices, for example, and flash-sale site Zulily reports that almost half of its orders came in via its app during the first three quarters of 2013.
ShopSmart took a close look at some shopping apps that are worth checking out. (They’re all free.)
BEST FOR: buying everything. Shopping giant Amazon is like an old friend you can always count on. Its app, like its website, gives you access to a huge marketplace where you can find just about anything. The app’s design mirrors that of the website, so it makes you feel right at home.
BEST FOR: unique finds. Etsy is a gold mine of handmade and vintage goods, with prices ranging from trinket to treasure. The app, like the site, is full of individual shops set up by artisans selling their creations. Where else could you find an embellished tweed hat next to a ram’s horn wall hanging? There’s so much to see that it could be easy to get overwhelmed, but the app does a great job of categorizing the offerings and paring down your search results.
BEST FOR: daily deals. This app is all about sales. It’s billed as daily deals for moms, babies and kids, but don’t overlook it if you don’t have kids at home. The clothes and shoes featured here are comfy and stylish, and you don’t want to miss the deep discounts on accessories and housewares, either. The sales are limited-time “flash” sales, so be sure to note when one ends (check the upper-right corner). One thing that makes Zulily unique is that it places bulk orders with vendors after shoppers order items. That makes inventories and shipping times a bit unpredictable, but it’s also why Zulily can offer such low prices. (Warning: Sales on some items are final, so check before you buy.)