Outdoor superstore REI has added an ecommerce app to its lineup for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Through REI, sports enthusiasts can browse REI's product selection, find a nearby store, scan items and make direct purchases — when the function works.
REI's product catalog is browse-able by product type or brand, or searchable by keyword. You can also access the REI outlet to see special deals. A barcode scanner is found on the home screen (accessible by double tapping the store icon). Unlike finicky scanners that require exact placement, the REI scanner was able to read all of my tests with no problem (actually carrying the product is another story). You'd probably use this feature while in-store to see REI's complete database of product reviews, but it would be easy enough to use at other retailers, too.
REI offers an excellent UI for individual products. You can view full-screen close-up images of the items, read the complete product description, and see its specifications price and shipping details. There's a store locator that features service and rental information, and there's also a function to call REI directly if you need help.
The REI app also offers in-line shopping: You can select a product size and color, and watch the item drop into your cart. I'd like to tell you that the cart is fully functional and amazing, but after adding a product to my basket, I wasn't able to load the cart tab on my iPhone 4 at all. Trapped in spinning load-wheel hell, the errors in the cart throttled the rest of the app's functionality, and only a complete shutdown of the app (from the multi-tasking tool bar) and relaunch fixed the issue.
Once REI rolls out a fix for its cart issue, it will be a worthy download for recreational gear heads.