By Rylan Barnes, ShopSavvy co-founder

Amazon Echo Show, Alexa, and Google Home have been positioned as the next big thing for companies and consumers. Content companies, marketers, and advertisers have scrambled to get up to speed on the technology behind them and are actively trying to figure out how to incorporate them into their planning. Certainly, there are a slew of companies anxious to get in on the Internet of Things (IoT) home automation game. However, they all realize that what will make them the most money is delivering their messages on the home automation system that reaches the most number of households.

Nevertheless, home automation is a new game with a whole new set of rules. The winner of this space will be whomever can master a very different skill set: providing subsidies through tax credits and insurance claims, and developing tight relationships with residential and commercial general contractors.

Read the rest of Rylan’s article on Digital Content Next.

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GIFT-BUYING season has arrived, and you might as well save some money while you’re at it. Plenty of apps can help make you a smarter shopper.

It may seem obvious, but the Amazon app is an excellent tool to have on your phone as you peruse the offerings at your local mall.

The app’s product pages can provide information about an item that you may not learn from an in-store display, and if you prefer to order the item from Amazon instead of buying in the store, the app has a built-in product-recognition system. Simply hold the item in front of your phone’s camera and the app will show Amazon search results that match the product.

I often use Amazon’s app to compare prices and check customer reviews, which may help me decide what products to buy. But the app’s design is beginning to look a little dated, and the menus and interface can sometimes feel clunky and confusing. The app is free on iOS and Android.

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The Amazon app is a helpful tool while perusing the offerings in stores.

Clothing is a popular shopping category, and a number of apps can help you find just the right outfit for the right price. My favorite clothes shopping app that caters to high-end fashion is Farfetch. It focuses on luxury brands and designer labels, including many discounted items. When you sign up for a free account, you choose to shop for men or women and then are presented with a selected list of deals on many kinds of clothing.

From there, you can choose to filter items by designer or by criteria like “new in today” or “sales,” or you can search for specific items. The app has many images, making it easy to navigate various submenus for accessories or jewelry. You can swipe through the many photos on the screen once you have narrowed your search parameters.

When you find, say, a nice-looking pair of Jimmy Choos, you can tap to see more product details. Then you can check size information and the shipping policy, click the “order by phone” button or go to the website to type in any questions you have about the product before you buy it.

Farfetch is upfront about delivery and return policies, and in general it’s a breeze to use. The app is free on iOS and Android.

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The ASOS app, a photo-heavy online shopping app.

If you want to browse lower-price clothing, the ASOS app has you covered. Also a photo-centric online shopping app, ASOS features deals on clothing items that typically cost tens of dollars instead of hundreds. It, too, is free on iOS and Android.

ShopSavvy is a different kind of shopping app: It searches the internet constantly, looking for deals in different stores for various products, and then presents all the results as a news feed of deals. You can search for sales in different stores, including big retailers like Target, or scan a bar code or search for a particular product and then ask the app to check for an in-store deal on the item nearby.

You can even set up price-tracking alerts, so the app will let you know if the price of a particular item you are eyeing has gone down. This app is fun to use, and it could save you money. ShopSavvy is free on both iOS and Android.

Lastly, Purchx is an app with a mission similar to ShopSavvy’s: finding you good prices for items. But while ShopSavvy focuses on deals, Purchx also incorporates customer reviews, collecting them alongside information on current prices. If you are trying to decide between, say, two similar television sets, the data in Purchx can help inform your choice. Purchx isn’t the prettiest shopping app, but it works well and is free on iOS and Android.

Quick Call

Swaying is an iPhone video-making app with a twist: It uses a faux 3-D effect to let you see around an object in a video. It records a clip when you circle your phone around the object you want to capture, and in playback mode you rotate your phone to see around the item. Unusual and satisfying, Swaying is free on iOS.

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By Rylan Barnes & Phil Barrett

Voice interfaces are getting a lot of buzz right now, and for good reason. Gartner predicts that by 2018, 30 percent of our interactions with technology will be through conversations with smart machines. That’s why tech giants from Google to Microsoft to Apple are investing in voice — but this shouldn’t just be the business of the Goliaths. Savvy business owners and entrepreneurs, especially those in retail and ecommerce, must find a way to adopt these platforms to remain competitive as voice takes a front seat in commerce enablement.

This doesn’t mean creating your own Alexa or Siri. But it does mean taking advantage of the voice platforms already in place and the built-in audiences that are using them to increase customer loyalty and attract new business. For retailers or ecommerce sites, this means tapping into voice platforms so customers can ask if a certain store or site has the jeans they’re looking for in their size. For product review or comparison sites, this means asking where they can find the best camera for under $250 and asking for a detailed review, all while driving or cooking dinner.

In the best scenario, these voice platforms can offer guidance on all aspects of the buying process, removing any friction for the consumer and alleviating some of their decision-making responsibilities. But not all voice platforms have equal potential. Consumers are quickly realizing that most voice interfaces can’t do everything they claim (think Siri).

Why Alexa above others

So why isn’t the same happening to Alexa? Alexa does two important things to sidestep consumer disappointment. First, Alexa doesn’t try to do as much. It doesn’t have a screen to fall back on, and it forces users to stick to the script. In a way, Alexa is copying the original Google search model but in a more concise way. While Google can return several results, Alexa gives just the best answer, and it needs to be short and to the point. When people search Google and don’t find what they want, they just assume it doesn’t exist or that they put in the wrong search terms or Boolean logic. They don’t blame Google for not finding it. And it’s similar for Alexa. It’s a nuanced user response, but it could make all the difference in determining which AI platform(s) make it and which ones don’t.

Read the full article here: http://venturebeat.com/2016/11/01/why-amazon-alexa-is-so-dominant-right-now/

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By Cameron Huddleston

Retail spending is expected to jump 3.6 percent in November and December, up to $655.8 billion, reported the National Retail Federation. And in 2015, the average person spent over $800.

Between the holiday ham and toys for the kids, end-of-the-year spending can cut through any devoted saver’s budget. Here are 40 ways to trim the fat off your spending — without making you look like a Grinch.

1. Create a Spending Budget

Before you buy anything, you need to know how much you can afford to spend so you don’t rack up debt or wreak havoc on your finances. Personal finance expert Natasha Campbell said you should write down a list of everyone you plan on giving gifts to and decide how much you’re willing to spend per person.

Once you’ve established a realistic gift budget, think about how much you’ll need to spend on food, decor and entertainment during the holidays. Knowing how much you can expect your expenses to increase will help you save ahead and keep you mindful when you’re at the store.

18. Take Advantage of Price Matching

 “Price matching is a great way to grab the lowest prices without bouncing from store to store, but it does require a bit of initiative,” said Howard Schaffer of Offers.com. As a shopper, it’s up to you to keep an eye on the prices of products and show proof to retailers that competitors are offering the same product for lower prices. Apps such as RedLaser and ShopSavvy can help.

You also need to be aware that some retailers’ price-matching policies are better than others, Schaffer said. Major retailers like Target and Walmart have some of the best policies, matching local competitors’ prices as well as the prices of online retailers, such as Amazon.

Read the full article here: https://www.gobankingrates.com/personal-finance/40-ways-save-money-over-holidays/

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By Kendal Perez

For many Americans, Labor Day weekend is the last opportunity of the season to kick back, relax and enjoy the summer sunshine before it fades into fall. While an estimated 15.6 million travelers will fly the friendly skies for a last-minute getaway, many consumers will set their sights on savings and shop their way through the weekend.

Though Labor Day is one of the biggest shopping days of the year, not everything is a great deal despite retailer efforts to convince consumers otherwise. Follow this guide to avoid overspending during this highly promotional holiday weekend.

Compare store ads. Comparing offers between retailers is key to saving money on your Labor Day purchases. Use Retale or Flipp to view digital versions of store circulars online or through your mobile device. You can quickly thumb through deals and note who has the best offer on your desired product. A comparison shopping app like ShopSavvy is also helpful in comparing prices between local competitors and online retailers based on the barcode of the product you’re considering. If you find a product you’re eyeing is priced for less at another store or online retailer, ask a sales associate or manager to match the better offer. You’ll likely be able to get it for even less without the hassle of running around town.

Read the full article: http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/articles/2016-08-31/how-to-save-even-more-during-labor-day-sales-events

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