Before testing Smarter Shopping, I hadn’t heard of Phil Lempert, but the Supermarket Guru, as he’s also known, has been tracking trends and passing on his knowledge to consumers for more than 25 years. Yeah, Lempert knows his stuff, and his smarts are now available for iPhone and iPod Touch in the free app Smarter Shopping.
In Smarter Shopping, users will find a variety of information centered upon grocery store shopping. Aside from a few broken links, my favorite section of the app is "Phil’s Hits & Misses." Updated each Wednesday, Lempert takes five new products and rates them, based on taste, healthfulness and sustainability, among other things. This is a good way to find new foods or to get the real scoop on new items on the supermarket shelves. Smarter Shopping also features video clips for Food News as well as money-saving tips. I found the "Recall" section particularly useful, since there are quite a few notices.
Smarter Shopping also includes a recipe section, a place to store a shopping list, general education for when to buy organic and what produce is in season, based on your GPS location. There’s also a helpful smart substitutions section that provides alternate ingredients should your pantry be missing an item or two. If you’re trying to watch what you eat, the label translator is key for figuring out what those chemicals really do, and Product 101 explains when to use a particular ingredient.
Smarter Shopping’s biggest drawback is its design. It’s not pretty. I could get past its poor UI if this app offered incredible functionality, but it doesn’t rank high in this area either. Tapping into the "Video" section won’t show you all the clips included — instead it serves as an archive of older "Hits & Misses" and "Food News" segments. It also doesn’t include the week’s current clips, so you have to find those on the home screen.
Smarter Shopping deserves high marks for its content — there’s a lot of buried content if you’re willing to put in the time to explore — but a redesign would make this app truly stand out.