The App Guide: 5 Must-have Shopping Apps

Mobile apps have changed shopping forever — and for the better. With just a few apps on your smart phone, you can save money and time, and get goods in your hands faster.

Today’s shopping apps not only let you compare prices and find discounts, they also use social trends, like social networking and geolocations, to enhance your shopping experience. “More and more people are trying to bring the whole shopping experience that you get online and make it something you do in person too,” says Mia Kim, editor in chief of Popgadget, a tech blog for women.

On that note, here are six must-have apps that will make shopping more fun and efficient.

Shopping App No. 1: Shopkick
  is all about offline shopping. Just let the app recognize your location, and it will offer you deals in all the participating stores nearby. Scan certain products with your phone’s camera and earn kickbucks to use for gift cards, movie tickets, merchandise or charity donations. The app works in cities across the U.S.

For: iPhone and Android

Shopping App No. 2: Amazon App
Amazon App is more than just a smart-phone-sized version of Amazon’s website. With your phone’s camera, you can scan any barcode to find and buy the item on Amazon in a matter of moments. You can also add products to your shopping cart and complete your transaction later on the spot. “Everything is there,” says Kim. “Because most people have Amazon accounts with payments set up, it really takes five seconds to buy something.”

For: iPhone , BlackBerry and Android. A separate app, Windowshop, is available for the iPad.

Shopping App No. 3: FastMall
If you have a love/hate relationship with malls and saving time is just as important to you as saving money, FastMall is the app for you. FastMall provides interactive maps for thousands of shopping malls around the world. Looking for the nearest restroom? Shake your iPhone and find it without getting lost in the mall. Or use the app’s turn-by-turn navigation instructions to make your way from the food court to the bookstore.

For: iPhone and Android

Shopping App No. 4: GoodGuide
With GoodGuide , you can shop sustainably and eco-consciously. Browse, search or scan a barcode to learn how a product scores in such categories as health, environment and social impact. You can create lists of products you love and those you want to avoid and share your lists in social networks.

For: iPhone

Shopping App No. 5: CardStar
How many reward cards do you have dangling from your keychain or stuffed into your wallet? CardStar saves all your reward cards’ barcodes to your phone, so the checker can scan your screen instead of the little plastic card (which you can never find anyway).

For: iPhone, BlackBerry and Windows phones