Beyond Compare

I love it when you get a mobile application that does exactly what it says on the tin. Take a bow Sccope, the mobile price comparison service which launched in beta a couple of months ago and is now rolling out in earnest.
The idea is a simple one. You’re on the high street, you see something you’re interested in buying, but you just wonder if the price you’re seeing it at is the best you’re likely to find it for. So you send a simple text with the name of the product to a Shortcode, and a minute or two later, you get a return text telling you the price of the product at selected, household-name retailers.
There are three reasons I like Sccope so much. Firstly, texts are charged at the standard network operator rate, so you’re not paying an arm and a leg for the privilege. I called Sccope’s PR to ask if this means that you could use texts from your text bundle to use the service, and they said that depends on the operator; some allow texts to Shortcodes within text bundles, others charge for them separately. But at least Sccope is not making a killing on the exercise. In fact, I rang my network, 3, and they said texts to the Sccope Shortcode would cost 10p each. They could not confirm how much it would cost me to receive the return texts, but the PR could: nothing.
The second thing I like about it is that it is genuinely useful. Last night, I spent maybe half an hour looking at half a dozen websites comparing prices on various things on my kids’ Christmas wish-list so my wife would know whether to buy them on a shopping trip today, or get them online later. Sccope could have done the job in minutes. As could other price comparison sites, for sure, but this one also works when you’re in the shop, rather than in front of your PC.
The third good thing about Sccope is that it’s fast. Trialling the system today, it returned results in less than a minute, so you’re not left mooching round the shop while you get your answer.
Most of all, though, what I like about Sccope is that it works. I’ve lost count of the times when I’ve heard news of a new mobile service and tried it out, only to find that it doesn’t live up to the promise, or doesnt actually work at all.
Based on a quick trial today, this one does, and it’s perhaps no surprise to learn that the company behind Sccope, Cogenta, supplies real-time pricing intelligence to retailers. Sccope seems to have come out of the realisation that the company could turn the thing on its head and use the same information to benefit consumers. It also benefits the company’s retail clients, of course, by driving traffic into their stores when the consumer sees the results of the price comparison. I for one will be putting the Sccope Shortcode in my phones Contacts book.

David Murphy