Find the best holiday deals with these mobile shopping applications

by Brad Spirrison

Just as the Internet and e-commerce forever changed the retail industry more than a decade ago, smartphone and tablet applications are having a dramatic impact on how consumers shop and locate the best deals near them. By some estimates, more than 75 percent of smartphone owners use their devices to influence purchasing decisions.

So what are the best shopping apps to snap up and use throughout this holiday season? You’ll find good deals downloading any of these five applications.

Catalogue by TheFind (iPad, Android Tablets: Free)

Spreading out newspaper coupon circulars all over the breakfast table on Black Friday morning for many of us remains an annual tradition. But if you are looking for a new method to identify the best deals near you, Catalogue by TheFind beautifully condenses these promotions all in one place. The free iPad app (also available for many Android tablet devices) showcases catalogues from the likes of more than 70 retailers including Nordstrom, LEGO and J.Crew. Stay tuned for an update that will bring an augmented reality element into the app. This breakthrough technology will enable users to do things like visualize how a prospective couch they might purchase from Crate & Barrel would look like in their dens. Pretty cool.

Black Friday by BradsDeals (iPhone, iPod Touch: Free)

For more than a decade, the popular website BradsDeals.com has helped bargain-hunters scout out great sales. A new iPhone app specific to Black Friday 2011 was just released that allows consumers to carry around coupons from more than 100 retailers in their pockets. Dial-up redeemable coupons from the likes of Best Buy, Sears and Toys R Us while you’re in the store, or purchase discounted products from participating retailers right from your device.

Walmart (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android: Free)

Virtually every major retailer now offers one or a series of several mobile applications designed to attract new consumers and better engage existing ones. Rather than copying and pasting information published on their websites, the most innovative companies offer shopping experiences specific to the devices that carry their apps. Earlier this month, Walmart debuted a brand new iPad app and updated its existing iPhone and Android applications. All of these applications are free. The new iPhone app update includes features like a voice-activated shopping list and a feature to compute the running tally of your bill as you add more items. The new iPad app lets you see what’s in stock at Walmart locations near you before you leave the house.

Price Check by Amazon (iPhone, iPod Touch, Android: Free)

For hybrid shoppers who like to like to hit the stores but also seek the best deals from online retailers like Amazon, the free Price Check is the app for you. When you find something of interest in a store, this app lets you compare prices with Amazon and its merchants by scanning the bar code, taking a picture or through voice- and text-based search. If you find that Amazon has the better deal, log-in to your account and purchase the item on your phone with one-click checkout. Just don’t tell the salesperson in the store what you’re up to!

Groupon (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android: Free)

The pioneer of daily deal services is rolling out its Grouponicus holiday shopping feature that will offer extended deals on gift-friendly products. Grouponicus deals are currently available for Android smartphones and tablets with support for Apple’s iDevices arriving thereafter. Also, if you are strolling the malls and looking for a little stress reliever, tap into Groupon Now to see if there is a timely special on a neck massage or happy hour near you.