Start-Up Watch: Smoopa Android App Helps Electronics Shoppers Compare Prices
Smoopa, a new comparison shopping start-up with a pretty silly name, this week introduced its first app, which allows Android users to scan bar codes of electronics, movies and games, and find out whether they’re cheaper online.
That’s similar to other shopping apps such as those from e-commerce powerhouse Amazon, but Smoopa has a few neat features.
First of all, Smoopa always includes shipping costs in its prices. It also shows recent prices for the 12 million products in its database, so you can get an idea of whether to buy now or later (kind of like what Farecast/Bing Travel does for air flights). And it gives users the ability to track the price of a product and be alerted when it comes down. Users can also share a product price with friends through in-app Facebook integration.
Boston-based Smoopa currently has data from Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Office Depot, Buy.com and TigerDirect. CEO Mendel Chuang said the company doesn’t carry Amazon feeds yet, in part because the company obscures shipping costs in the product listings it provides through its API.
Chuang reported that retailers are increasingly comfortable with customers pulling out smartphones while they browse, even if it makes them likely to spend their money elsewhere. Best Buy has a policy of matching its own online prices, which are apparently often lower than those on its shelves. And after all, you’re already in the store, so you may value the convenience of buying a product right there, where shipping is always free.
Smoopa is available for free in the U.S. through Android Market, and online at www.smoopa.com. The company is working on an iOS version.
Chuang, who formerly led marketing for Google Friend Connect, launched Smoopa with a team of three other MIT grads. The company is bootstrapped and expects to make money from affiliate revenue sharing. It built its bar-code-reading technology in-house.