Barcode iPhone App Month Review: Target

target barcode scanner app

Target App for iPhone



Price: Free | Link to App Store

We are all familiar with society's predilection towards labeling ourselves and each other either Mac or PC. There exists, however, another classification I find just as illuminating: Target or Wal-Mart? In the spirit of Barcode iPhone App Month, I'm going to come out of the closet and proclaim myself once and for all: I am a Target person. In my garden of brand pedestals, Target exists somewhere between Ikea and Mac and is inextricably yet inexplicably linked to my sense of self.

Its no surprise I had high hopes for the Target app, imagining a flawlessly designed application that would deliver the Target brand shopping experience into the palm of my hand. While the app falls short of my lofty expectations (after all, their slogan is Expect More) it does do what it promises to do, passably well.

I spent a couple days using the app. On Saturday morning, I laid in bed to do some preliminary Christmas shopping for my little boy. You can shop by category and browse through lists of titles and thumbnails, or you can use search to look for specific things. The app allows you to create lists, which is helpful. However, you can't just add your whole list to the cart, which I find annoying. You have to go to the description page for each item, and tap add to cart. If I were a Target app designer, I would want to make it as easy as possible for users to buy things from the app.

The next day, I tested out the barcode scanner. The barcode scanner on the Target app is a star among scanners. I was able to scan items while holding both the item and my iPhone with an enormous purse in the crook of my elbow and a tiny, loud human being pulling on my arm and chanting, “I want that, I want that!” The way the scanner is used in the app, however, is lackluster. It will pull up the item and tell you the price online and its availability in the store you've selected as my store, but it doesn't say the in-store price. You can click-thru to another screen to see availability in other stores in your area.

To me, a barcode scanner that doesn't return the in-store price is a little superfluous. Why else would you need the app in the store? If you can see the item to scan the barcode, then obviously the item is in-stock—its in your hand! If you want to use the app to checkout, why leave your house at all? And, say you're at Wal-Mart and you want to know if Target has that Zhu Zhu Pet for cheaper, you wouldn't pull out the Target app, you'd pull out ShopSavvy or RedLazer to get comparison prices. But how often have you found a rogue item at Target and wondered how much it cost? If the app delivered in-store prices you wouldn't have to hunt down an employee to find out. The possibilities are endless, imagine being able to checkout in-store from your iPhone, completely avoiding standing in line. Hear that Target? You told me to Expect More, and I do.

If you are a total die-hard Target shopper, the barcode scanner could be useful. If you are at another store and see something you like, you could scan the item to see if Target carries it and order it there from your phone. Target does offer 5% off any order placed online or in-store when you use your Target credit card. For the sake of a complete experience, I did browse the app and place an order through it. I found it to be more trouble than it was worth. Apparently, I took too long at checkout or something because it kicked me back inexplicably and I had to start the checkout process over again. After browsing, making my selection, registering and entering all my information the total process took about 45 minutes and left me feeling irritated. In the same amount of time, I could have driven to the store, bought a latte at the in-store Starbucks and checked out with my tshirt and over-the-knee cable knit socks completely happy with my Target experience.

I love going to Target, but I don't love using their app. It did not deliver the brand experience I expect from them nor did it make shopping from Target any more convenient. Their barcode scanner made me happy though, too bad I can't use it for anything.

Also available for Android.

Visit our Mobile Barcode Apps Link page for a list of barcode apps you might like.


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