Aisle411 Promises to Make Shopping Easier

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Q: I still do all of my shopping in real stores, but there must be a smartphone application to make the whole process easier. Suggestions?

Aisle411.jpgA: The Aisle411 app for your iPhone hasn't launched yet -- it should any hour now; you can sign up on the site to be notified of its release if you want to know right away -- but it's already received a fair bit of coverage. And that's because it promises to help you find products in specific sections at more than 600 retail stores around the country. A simple search will tell you where in the store to go to find whatever product you're after.

But that's not all. Aisle411 will also combine shopping lists, reviews and offers with the application's primary function: search. Scan a product's UPC code with your camera (only available on the iPhone version of the application) and product reviews from Amazon.com will automatically pop up on your screen. The shopping lists allow you to make simple lists of everything you want to purchase. You can already do this using Notes (iPhone) or a similarly simple application, but those won't take your list and find the items on an interactive map like Aisle411 will. Because GPS and in-building Wi-Fi-based geolocation tool still aren't accurate enough, Aisle411 uses landmarks -- aisles and shelves -- to direct you from one product to the next.

Participating stores have been given the option to include digital coupons using the applications' interface. Regardless of whether or not your favorite location has opted in, Aisle411 will pull relevant offers from Coupons.com and alert you.

Founded in 2008, Aisle411's team has spent the past couple of years building out the application for various smartphones: It will launch for the iPhone, but applications for Android and BlackBerry phones are expected to follow in early 2011. The team has also worked to sign up hundreds of participating stores. As more and more locations continue to join the service, it could become a must-have application (and it's free!) for people who still do their shopping offline.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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