Needed’s smarter shopping app will find you the best nearby deals

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A new app called Needed, now officially launching, wants to upgrade your mobile shopping list. Instead of turning to a simple note-taking app or to-do list, Needed aims to help you save on groceries by automatically searching for deals and sales that match the items on your list.

The idea is to help you shop smarter locally, however – Needed doesn’t focus on online stores, or on-demand grocery delivery services.

Instead, Needed looks at the local circulars for stores like CVS, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Kmart, Winn-Dixie, Big Lots, Sears, Best Buy, Macy’s, Haverty’s Crate & Barrel, Save-a-Lot, for example, some of which carry groceries, while others only carry household items that may also match things on your list.

To use the app, you can either enter in products manually or just general descriptions like “cereal,” or you can scroll through a tappable list of the most commonly shopped-for goods. These are organized into color-coded sections like Bakery, Dairy, Fruits & Vegetables, Health & Beauty, Meat & Seafood, Snacks, and many more.

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And while Needed is primarily focused on grocery shopping, there’s also a section for Electronics where you can enter in a custom item in order to get updates about matching deals.

Once your list is complete, each items will indicate how many nearby deals are available, and you can tap to view the store’s ad.

For serious value-hunters, the app could help you more easily access the paper circulars that many of us no longer receive since we cancelled our newspaper subscriptions years prior.

The app emerged from location-based mobile ad platform Retale, as part of its “App Lab” initiative, which is a new unit at the company focused on creating standalone mobile shopping experiences. This is the group’s first product, says Retale, whose flagship shopping app has seen over 40 million downloads to date worldwide.

Essentially, Needed is repurposing Retale’s technology, which also delivers the weekly ads to your smartphone or tablet in a digital format.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t see relying on Needed alone to make shopping trips productive. While the Retale platform is used by 5,200 of the world’s top retailers, the company says, when I tested the app it failed to load up deals from two top local stores, Target and Publix. This is odd, given that Target is one of the retailers that supposedly works with Retale – but its ad isn’t showing in the Needed app or on Retale’s website.

Regardless as to why that’s the case, the end result is that there’s a weekly ad out there – and maybe several  – that aren’t popping up in Needed. That means you’re not seeing all the deals.

However, if you primarily shop at one of the supported stores, like Walmart, Needed could be an easier way to shop for savings without having to plow through the paper ad.

According to the app stores, the app has actually been live for some time, but the company is only now making its debut public following testing.

Needed is a free download on iOS and Android.