Here's another in the rapidly growing field of mobile shopping sites. It's mShopper (www.mshopper.net/wap) and is billed as a price comparison tool. The idea is that when you are shopping at a brick and mortar store and see something you are considering buying, you use mShopper to compare the merchant's price with what online stores are charging. The comparison is limited to mShopper's partner stores but there are currently oven 100 partners including Amazon, B&H Photo, Walmart, Target and dozens of smaller online retailers so the selection is actually pretty good.
MShopper seems to have put some thought into making the search process as simple as possible using a phone keypad. After you click the first link, labeled "PriceIt" on the mShopper mobile web home page you are presented with a search form with two fields where you enter the first few letters of the product's brand and model number respectively. mShopper then does a sub-string search and comes up with a list of matching items. I thought the relevance of the results was quite good.
Unfortunately, the experience started to break down at this point. I tried searching for the Sony W80 camera, The first problem was that the same camera appeared in the list multiple times with different prices. But you can't actually see the prices in the list, it takes two clicks on each item to find the actual price. After a lot of clicking I found what seemed to be the best price on the camera. There didn't seem to be any way to see the shipping cost without registering a credit card and starting the purchasing process. Shipping costs vary widely online, so you really need the bottom line price to do effective comparison shopping.
mShopper, in addition to price comparisons, lets you purchase any of the items found in a search. You need to register on the mShopper PC site at www.mshopper.net or by phone with the click to call "Talk to a Live Agent" link on the mobile site. Registration requires both an e-mail address AND a mobile phone number, although entering a credit card is optional.
Registered users can click a link to send an e-mail containing the three best prices for a product. I was surprised that when a sent myself an e-mail using mShopper, I also received a text message. There doesn't seem to be anyway to turn off messaging to just get e-mails which could be an issue if you are have pay per use messaging. The text message wasn't very useful either as it contained only one price and it was not the lowest one, $171 from Amazon but an insanely high $346 from B&H Photo.
I didn't try registering a credit card and purchasing anything as I didn't feel like giving my credit card details with yet another online merchant. I'd much rather be able to use my existing PayPal or Google Checkout account. The purchasing process appears to be pretty well designed based on the demo on the mShopper PC site. You only need enter your mobile phone number and a PIN to complete a purchase.
There are a few other features of the site. You can browse through the entire mShopper catalog by merchant or category, do a full-text search, search for a product using a UPC or SKU number, see a list of "Hot Deals" or register to receive text alerts of new hot deals in specific categories.
I'm still searching for the perfect mobile shopping site. mShopper does several things well but I was somewhat disappointed by the overall experience.
What would it take to make me want to use and recommend mShopper?
- Remove the duplicates from the results list.
- Include prices in the first results list and make them bottom-line prices including shipping if the user has registered with a zip code.
- Provide an option to opt-out of the text messaging feature and make entering a mobile phone number optional when registering without a credit card number.
- Add the ability to use PayPal and/or Google Checkout instead a credit card.
If mShopper could make these changes I think it would make the site much more attractive and drive some serious levels of adoption. Mobile shopping has real potential but none of the mobile shopping sites I've looked at so far makes the process easy enough and compelling enough to really encourage usage.
Link: mShopper - mshopper.net/wap