Internet Bargain-Finder Promises Unbeatable Prices
Revolution in Retail


Bargain finder
The "Pocket Bargain Finder" will take the bar code of a product, dial up a server, find comparable prices on the Internet, and send the results back to your cell phone. (

By Jack Smith
Today, bargain-shopping is a refined hunting skill. The playing field: discount stores, catalogs and sales racks. The weapons: determination, guile and a lot of time. On the horizon, however, is a revolution in shopping—brought about by the Internet. 
     The folks at Andersen Consulting are now working on an experimental cell phone, called the “Pocket Bargain Finder,” that will do all the deal-hunting in a snap. 
Jonathan Levin
Just scan, wait, and compare: the Pocket Bargain Finder. (Andersen Consulting)
The idea is to enter the bar code on merchandise into this device—just like scanning items in the grocery store. The Pocket Bargain Finder then automatically dials a server in Chicago that goes onto the Internet and hunts for the same merchandise at a better price somewhere else. A prototype of the device discovered that a book that retails for $27 sells elsewhere for as little as $22. And it found out in seconds.
     As more companies sell their wares online, there are more products for consumers to compare. This device, which will eventually fit in your pocket, could transform the retail industry. 
     “This is the sort of thing that demonstrates how the Internet really changes the rules,” says Joe Carter of Andersen Consulting. “Instead of the merchant saying, ‘here’s what I have to sell, who wants to buy it?’ It’s going to be the consumer saying ‘here’s what I want to buy, who wants to sell it to me?’” 
     This is handy for the buyer, but downright frightening for retailers. Large discount chains have already proven that when there’s a cheaper price, the little guys are bound to go out of business. Mom-and-pop shops will have plenty to keep them on their toes in the next few years—but the average consumer will get to kick back and let their fingers do the shopping. 

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