Online purchases are generally cheaper than offline purchases. This is a great incentive and many online stores have emerged in recent times using this cost factor as leverage. In fact, there are so many players in this market and each one offers these
goods at such different prices that a potential customer is now spoilt for choice.To help customers get to a buying decision, there are websites that compare the prices of goods from different online stores and sites like MySmartPrice, ThisYaThat etc are popular among online shoppers. (you might want to read about: Are we really looking for the cheapest option?)
Today’s App Friday, LowPrice, performs a similar function and provides the lowest price for books across 9 popular online stores. It was built by Pranay Airan, a software engineer from Intuit, as an app for Bangalore Android User Group Hackathon earlier this year, who later collaborated with Dataweave, a Tech 30 company, for further enhancements in the App.
LowPrice, in its initial days, used a Barcode Scanner to scan the barcode at the back of a book, derive the ISBN number of the book from it and use this information to scrape price data of the scanned book from various online shopping portals. With this data the user can choose the best price. As LowPrice gained popularity within the developer circuit, Pranay went on collaborate with Dataweave, to add a search option.
As it stands, LowPrice helps in finding the lowest price of a book across 9 different online stores via scanning or search. It also allows users to create wish lists to go back to.
LowPrice’s search function, as well as the scanner function works flawlessly. The couple of times that it didn’t seem to work was due to typos in the search and flaky internet connections (Yes, this app needs an internet connection to work).
The search option is very effective; the user can search by Keyword, Title and Author. It is a bit sensitive to incorrect titles; for examples, while searching for a book called Breakout Nations, a search with Break Out as two separate words didn’t yield
any results. However, we could find the book by author.On the comparisons page, each quote is linked to the buying page of the book on their respective sites and if the user is used to buying online from a phone, they can do that as well.
To summarize, LowPrice does everything that it says it does.
While from a coding perspective it is not a tough task, intelligent use mobility for this particular function is commendable. Using the barcode scanner at a bookstore is going to be a compelling use case. Furthermore, there aren’t many such apps on the market either. In places where mobile internet penetration is more, LowPrice can be used even more effectively.
UI and UX
LowPrice is very minimal in terms of design. White and grey backgrounds are predominant through the app. But this, being a utility app, isn’t much of a problem. In fact, this minimalistic approach provides a very simple, easy to understand and an uncluttered look and feel. LowPrice is responsive, while the speed at which you receive the search result is dependent on the user’s internet connection.
It isn’t the best looking app in the market, but it isn’t bad either.
What we liked
Having played around with the app for long enough, here is the list of things that we liked about the app
- A very comprehensive search function; we could find all the books through one way or the other
- Barcode scanner functionality provides a unique and compelling use case
- Comprehensive sources of data
- Clean user experience; white, minimal and perfect.
- Wish list functionality is very thoughtful
What we didn’t like
- Sharing on social feeds can have user editable functions. The content that goes on the social feeds can come across as spam. This can be solved by making content user editable.
What started off as a project at a Hackathon now has close to 5000 downloads. It is a utility app that performs its function very well and it is a very useful smartphone tool for the avid book reader. LowPrice can have a more widespread user base. Download the app from here, and if you like it, share it with your friends. We commend Pranay and Dataweave on making this neat app and wish them all the best with their future endeavors with LowPrice.