Amazon app makes you take a second look for holiday shopping

When you’re at the mall and you see that “whoa, that’s cool” gift, stop for a minute. Could you get it cheaper online? That’s the kind of point-of-purchase question wants you to be asking, and it’s why the online retailer has just launched a new iPhone app.

The new Price Check app lets users scan the UPC of any item they find in a store and then see if it’s any cheaper on Amazon. If there’s no UPC or it’s in a locked display cabinet or something, users can also type in the product name, speak it into the phone’s microphone, or take a picture of it.

“We’ve worked hard to have low prices at Amazon, and we like it when customers comparison-shop so they know they’re getting a good deal,” said Amazon’s mobile czar Sam Hall.

Of course, online shopping takes a bigger bite out of the holiday shopping pie each and every years as customers continue to look for the best deals. Nothing will ever beat the instant gratification of going into a store and buying all your gifts for the holidays, but Amazon thinks that when you’re in that moment, when you have the item in your hands, if you find out you can save up to 50% by buying it online, you’ll put it down and sit through the time it takes to ship.

Another company stepping up to the same plate is Ebay, which just launched a very similar app. Take a photo of the UPC, and then take a look at all current Ebay auctions that are linked to that UPC.

Both online giants both already have mobile apps, but they’re focused mainly on browsing a smartphone version of the existing site. This holiday season marks a stronger push to get customers to check specific items when they’re already in the place of business of another, brick-and-mortar store.

“We listened to our 13 million-plus mobile app users and we’ve updated our eBay iPhone app to be a one-stop shop,” said Ebay mobile VP Steve Yankovich in a statement.