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New mobile phone app to give shoppers ethical insight

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Ethical shoppers could soon have a new tool to check out products’ ethical credentials in the shop – finding the information they need in order to make a principled purchase.

Using the Barcoo mobile phone app, consumers will be able to point their phone at a barcode and find out information including how environmentally friendly the producer of a product is, how it treats its staff, and what the carbon footprint of that particular item is, according to The Guardian. Information given is also said to include healthy eating and price comparison services.

The app was produced in Germany by business science graduate Benjamin Thym, with former schoolfriend Tarik Tokic. It takes forward the existing capability to scan barcodes in the shop and compare its price, finding out how much it is at other stores in the area.

As yet it seems Barcoo is available only in German, but we have no doubt that it or something like it will soon be in use over here.

Our view: Is this type of app something that will help or hinder retailers and brands? It would be easy to react defensively and there are reports that some retailers are considering jamming the use of such devices within their stores. But that’s unlikely to make them the destination of choice for consumers.

We’d suggest that those consumers who are aware enough to want to scan their shopping will already be pretty well informed about the issues – and attempts to stand in the way of further information will not be welcomed.

Instead, truly multichannel retailers will be embracing this as an opportunity to show off the competitiveness of their prices, and the clarity of their supply chains, something after all that’s already been a must for many areas of the industry for some years. This won’t put new information into the hands of consumers, but will just make it easier for them to access it when and where they need to.

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