App Review: SaleSorter

via App Review: SaleSorter | Consumer Watch, clarionledger.com, 11/12/2012

If you’re one of those people who love sniffing out a good sale, a brother and sister from the Boston area have created possible shopping Nirvana for you. It comes in the form of SaleSorter, a smartphone app that uses your location to bring information on store sales to the palm of your hand. The app went live nationwide Nov. 8, and is the brainchild of Thayer Meicler, 30 and brother Peter Christodoulo, 32. Meicler now lives in the San Francisco Bay area, while Peter now lives in London.

A couple of years ago, the siblings were discussing ways to help meet the need of serious shoppers, who are often beseiged with mail and email about sales happening in their local area. “You wake up everyday with 20 emails about things you don’t want to buy,” Meicler noted in a phone interview from her California home. “Consumers want stuff that matters.”

“In this day and age, sales happen frequently and it can be difficult to find out which sales are happening,” she said. “We wanted to find a way to help customers to find the sales, and we came up with the idea for an app as a result.”

The app uses Foursquare, a social networking app which lets users “check in” at their location. Since Foursquare incorporates GPS data, the information from Foursquare can be used to “geo-tag” the user’s location, and then find sales in the local area. When I downloaded the free app on my iPhone 4, I found it simple and easy to use. Immediately, more than 30 sales popped up, all from major retailers such as Best Buy and Anne Taylor. But what separates this app from others I’ve seen is not just its ability to find sales at “big-box” or national retailers; local businesses can take part too.

“All you have to do is to click the ‘Add a Sale’ button, take a picture of the sale sign or storefront, and as long as the store is already on Foursquare, it will add the sale and others can take advantage,” Meicler said. “As a small retailer, you don’t often have marketing money. With this app, we are trying to get the word out to small businesses.”

So I decided to give it a try. After downloading the app, I paid a visit to a local small business, Persnickety in Madison. On the door was a sign advertising 40% off Jay Strongwater (a company that sells high-end home decor items). I snapped a photo of the sign, then completed a couple of pieces of information, including the percentage off, whatever details I knew, and then the name of the store. Persnickety came up immediately on the search. I hit submit, then presto, there it was.

The difference between this and other shopping apps I’ve seen is that it empowers the shopper, as well as the business owner. “Buzz” that develops among loyal customers is the most valuable advertising; such apps can also help level the playing field between well-funded big retailers and smaller ones with a tighter bottom line. Meicler notes that the app doesn’t generate revenue — yet; however, as users multiply, she hopes revenue potential will develop.

Regardless, shoppers venturing out on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday or whenever: your work just got a little easier.

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