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Last-Minute Shopping? There's an App for That

There’s only a few days left to find that perfect gift this holiday season, but with the help of an iPhone, all you may need is a few minutes.

Source: Yoox Group

You guessed it, there are now apps to help ease your holiday shopping and they come in the form of downloadable gift guides.

The applications have become increasingly popular on Apple's iPhones, offering consumers an alternative to trudging around the mall hunting for the perfect gift. Instead, you can purchase items with a simple tap of the finger.

Consumer Nation Holiday Central Edition
Consumer Nation Holiday Central Edition

The European-based online retailer Yoox.comlaunched their version of a one-stop shopping gift guide application just before the holiday season in November. Their app currently ranks in the top ten of free downloaded apps in the 'Lifestyles' category of Apple's App Store in 30 of 57 countries in which it distributes.

Since its debut, the company has seen an increase in traffic on their Web site and on their mobile front, a trend that shows consumers are serious about mobile retail, said Massimiliano Benedetti, the company’s global marketing director.

“I think it’s a matter of filling the demand of a different shopping experience for the customer,” said Benedetti. “It’s about offering the maximum amount of freedom as possible to customers to buy the product all over the world, wherever you are, it's simply something that really works.”

NearbyNow, a local search company, is also striving to meet consumer demand for more shopping freedom with its gift guide app, Scott Dunlap, the company’s CEO, said.

The company has partnered with multiple retailers and magazines allowing consumers to either search specific guides or perform a search that pulls gift suggestions from all sources.

Stores like Nordstrom’s and Macy’s and magazines like Hearst's Cosmopolitan, and Time Warner's Real Simpleare just a few of NearbyNow’s partners.

“People kept telling us ‘I wish I could just have all the gift retailers in one place, look across all of those gift guides and find the right thing,'” said Dunlap. “We heard that enough times and decided to do just that.”

Both Yoox’s and NearbyNow’s gift guides generate gift recommendations based on the user’s answers to a brief questionnaire that includes specifications like the gender of the recipient, the desired price range and preferred theme of the gift. Both apps also have options to buy directly from your mobile device.

Source: NearbyNow

But what if you prefer to see the gift in person before you purchase it? Or what if you want to pay cash? Not a problem.

NearbyNow provides a gift locator and concierge service for its users.

The app finds local retailers carrying your selected gift and even provides a service that calls the retailer to ensure that your gift is in stock and makes sure it meets any specifications, like size and color. If your gift is in stock, you will receive a text, phone call or an email in less than ten minutes that notifies you of the your gift’s availability.

If you decide to put it on hold, you will even receive the name of the salesperson to contact when you get to the store, Dunlap said.

On average, you will receive a notification in about four-and-half minutes, he said.

I found this hard to believe, so I decided to give it a try.

With a friend in mind as my gift guinea pig, I chose to search Cosmopolitan’s gift guide.

Cosmo’s guide only needed the gender of the recipient before it generated several gift recommendations, one of which was an Andy Warhol-themed calendar from Barnes and Noble , the perfect gift for my Warhol-fanatic friend.

I chose the ‘find it near me’ option, which generated a list of all the Barnes and Noble locations in my vicinity. I chose the location nearest to me to see if the calendar was in stock, then chose the option to request the gift be held if it was available. Within seconds, I was notified via email on my iPhone that my request was processing.

To my surprise, a little under five minutes later, I received another email.

“Unfortunately, the item you're looking for is out of stock at Barnes & Noble Booksellers in New York, NY. However, it is likely available online.”

Mmmm, not today. But with speedy shopping like that, I can wait until tomorrow.

More from Consumer Nation:

Questions? Comments? Email us at consumernation@cnbc.com

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