This post is about two of my favorite things: smart shopping and cool gadgets. Or, more specifically, How to Use Your iPhone to Save Money.
I am entirely serious.
I love my iPhone, not so much for the cool factor (although it is a good looking piece of technology) but because of the myriad ways it makes my life easier. I bought an iPhone for work; having the ability to carry essentially my entire computer in my handbag makes my freelance life substantially easier. Until recently, though, I hadn't jumped on the app bandwagon -- I mean, did I really need the ability to turn my phone into a light saber? (My kids say YES, ABSOLUTELY!) And why would I want a "nightstand" app when the phone has a perfectly good alarm built right in? And a clock right there on the touch screen!
And don't even get me started about the farting apps. Good gravy, people. Seriously
I want apps that make my phone do something useful and novel. Specifically, I want an app that makes shopping easier. And I'm not talking about a program that helps me make a list (although I heartily recommend the Shopper app for that). No, I want an iPhone app that points me toward the deals and steals at my favorite retailers.
Ask and ye shall recieve: the Yowza!! app does precisely that.
Yowza!! is a mobile coupon app. But wait! Before you say, Eh I don't need a coupon aggregator on my phone, listen up: Yowza!! is different because it's tailored to your location. You heard me: Yowza!! uses your iPhone's GPS to deliver deals that are relevant to your location.
How does it work? Like this: You choose your radius -- 1 mile, 5 miles, 15 miles -- and Yowza!! shows you what retailers in your area are offering deals and steals exclusively through the app. So you walk into the mall, or into your Target, and you open up the app and you see what the current exclusive sales are.
Yowza!! then generates a coupon, but before you say Dude I do NOT want to have to print a coupon to make this work, let me tell you this: there's no printing involved. When you are done shopping, you check out as usual; open the app on your phone, click the relevant coupon, and the clerk scans the barcode, from your phone, and you score the discount. How much easier could it be?
I had a chance this week to visit with Yowza!! cofounder Greg Grunberg, who you might know better as Matt Parkman on NBC's "Heroes." What does he love about this app? "Yowza!! will save you money everywhere you spend, with everything you buy," Grunberg says. Current participating retailers include Target, Guitar Center, Children’s Place, Finish Line, Islands Restaurants, and the Container Store; Yowza!! is in talks with Forever 21, Victoria's Secret, and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.
Currently, deals through Yowza!! are only available in store, but Grunberg says they are hoping to offer an online component in the future. But shopping in an actual store is okay, especially in this economy, he argues. "That’s the whole idea: we need to be in the stores spending, and retailers need to be offering incredible deals." If you can use your iPhone to find those deals, so much the better.
Yowza!! isn't just another way for big chains to reach consumers, though; any retailer, no matter how small, can participate. The hope, Grunberg says, is that small boutiques will join and will be able to compete with larger box stores by offering comparable -- or better -- deals through the app. Owners of boutiques or other small retail businesses can go directly to the Yowza!! website and get their deals included in the app, for a small fee. It's a win-win for local businesses: local consumers who might overlook your shop will see it on their phone, right next to the big chains -- if your deal is as good or better than theirs, you're a winner. "It levels the playing field," Grunberg says, and in the post-WalMart world, the ability to find local retailers is an added bonus for community-minded shoppers and local businesses alike.
The bottom line is this: technology is cool, but what's cool about it isn't how it looks but what it does. Make your iPhone work for you the next time you're shopping. Yowza!! is available at the Apple store -- and it's free. Talk about smart shopping.
Want to know what the most-used iPhone apps are? Mark Walsh at MediaPost has the lowdown (and the top 20 are not games -- someone needs to tell my kids that!).
Susan Wagner writes about style at The Working Closet and about chic suburban living at Friday Playdate. Among the very useful apps on her iPhone are Beejive IM, a compendium of cocktail recipies, and the complete works of Jane Austen. And that damn light saber app, but just for the kids.
More from beauty-style