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Christmas Shopping Alone? Social Shopping Apps Will Keep You Company

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The days of phones simply being used for calling or texting are long gone - almost 60% of UK adults now own a smartphone. The mobile phone has become our go-to gadget for keeping connected on the move, acting as everything from a portable weather forecaster to our GPS. More and more, consumers are turning to their phones for shopping too, as many of us brag about the bargains we've found on Facebook and Twitter, and this is evolving even further with social shopping apps.

From money-saving apps such as Quidco, which lets its users get cashback on purchases made from any of Quidco's retail partners, to the Kellogg's Tweet Shop on Oxford Street, where customers "pay" for a packet of cereal by tweeting a message about it, it's clear mobile is changing our shopping experiences. So, whether you're looking to bag a bargain or augment your shopping experience with your smartphone, here are a few cool apps to get you to consider.

1. VIZL
VIZL is the ultimate virtual dressing room. Using your profile picture you can use the app to try on the latest fashion items and then share the look with your friends straight away. The app lets you virtually try on any look you want, allowing you to explore your inner style by mixing and matching clothes and accessories. When you're ready to buy, VIZL quickly transitions you to a loaded cart on the appropriate site where you can check out. The app provides an easy way to plan the perfect party outfit directly from your phone. So whether you're on the bus or simply don't have time to hit the shops, you've still got the latest fashion at your fingertips. It provides the user with the full shopping experience they would receive online, but through an easy to use and accessible mobile app. VIZL is currently available for iPhone, with Android support coming soon.

2. ShopWithIt
ShopWithIt is the perfect mobile app for social shoppers who want advice from friends on potential purchases. If you desperately rely on your best friends' opinions before handing over your bank card then this is the app for you. It allows you to scan product barcodes or take photos, then share and discuss with friends. By scanning the product barcode the app reveals information such as product description, price and availability for both local and online retailers. The app is available on Android phones and best of all, it's free!

3. ShopTogether
ShopTogether is an app for collaborative shopping lists, which can be updated and shared from anywhere with an internet connection. So, if your birthday is coming up and you want to make sure your friends buy you the gifts you really want this year, this is a must-have app. It allows you to communicate with friends and can be used as a check list to make sure everything you want is on that list. It's a really fun, creative app that is a pleasure to use. It is available for free, so there really is no excuse for friends to buy bad gifts anymore!

4. Wajam
We can't all be trend setters, but most of us have at least one fashion guru for a friend. If they can't come shopping with you there is no need to panic as long as you have Wajam downloaded on your mobile. Wajam is a social search engine that gives you access to your friends' knowledge even when you aren't physically with them. Wajam adds a dedicated 'friends' tab to search engines with recommendations from your friends' accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. The app lets you check out local recommendations using Google maps too by combining your location with what your friends have recommended. The app is available for iPhone and it's free to install.

5. Stylmee
Have you always wanted to own your own fashion boutique? Well now you can, virtually at least. Stylmee is the first iPad app that lets users in the fashion and interior design communities create virtual 3D boutiques. Design and personalise your boutique any way you want using products from brands and retailers. By doing this you can earn points which you can cash in with the companies whose products you have promoted. Cashback for fashion and interior products is a pretty good excuse to go shopping without the guilty feeling post-shop!

Technology is revolutionising so many industries and shopping is no exception. With social shopping apps, consumers can still enjoy the social aspect of shopping even if none of their friends are available to tag along. The apps outlined above not only provide a cool substitute for shopping with friends, but are economical too, with many offering cash back incentives. So if all of your friends are busy this weekend, whack out your mobile and start social shopping!

Sources:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/oct/09/mobile-advertising-500-million-pounds-2012?newsfeed=true
http://www.socialshoppingapps.com/