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ShopSavvy upgrades app for easier bar code scanning

December 23, 2009

shopsavvyBig in Japan, a factory for mobile applications, has updated its ShopSavvy iPhone application making it easier for consumers to scan bar codes.

The new and improved version of ShopSavvy – already one of the most downloaded bar-code-scanning applications for the iPhone – features a number of enhancements based on feedback from iPhone users.

“Our update for the iPhone offers a number of improvements requested by users,” said Alexander Muse, founder of Big in Japan, Dallas, TX. “In our 1.0 release many users, especially on 2G and 3G, had a hard time understanding how to scan a bar code. 

“We didn’t provide any sort of instructions – instead, we assumed everyone would just know what to do,” he said. “On Android our average user scans around 26 items each month, but on iPhone our average user was scanning 11 items. 

“We knew we had a problem.”  

Ranking as one of the most popular applications on Android phones since its launch in September 2008, ShopSavvy became available on the iPhone on November 17, 2009. 

In less than a month, hundreds of thousands of iPhone users have downloaded the application, joining millions of ShopSavvy users on Android phones such as the Hero and Droid. 

More than 1 million ShopSavvy users scanned more than 18 million products on Black Friday weekend alone (Nov. 27-29).

Enhancements to ShopSavvy 1.1 for iPhone include on-screen indicators that confirm a scan is being performed, a progress bar to show how close a scan is to completion and an on-screen tutorial teaching users how to scan.

Additionally, the new version includes international localization for users in Canada and Europe.

ShopSavvy enables users to comparison-shop on the go for more than 20 million products at more than 20,000 retailers worldwide by scanning the product’s bar code using the phone’s built-in camera.

Using the bar code information, ShopSavvy searches the Web for the best prices on the product, displaying the lowest prices online as well as at nearby brick-and-mortar retailers.

ShopSavvy looks up product reviews to further assist with purchase decisions.

“The 1.1 release was designed to help the user understand how to successfully use ShopSavvy,” Mr. Muse said. “First, we included aiming bars that help the user align the bar code correctly. 

“When aligned correctly the aiming bars turn green, the phone vibrates providing instant feedback and a progress bar shows the user we are conducting the scan,” he said. “We are hopeful these improvements will increase our scan volume per user on the iPhone. 

“IPod touch users complained that we didn’t offer ShopSavvy on the iTouch. Of course the iTouch does not have a camera so we didn’t think users would want ShopSavvy for just title search. Turns out we were wrong. In 1.1 iPod Touch users can now download the app and search by title.”

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Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor at Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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