If you have a coupon clipper or rebate hound in your family—someone who seeks out the lowest possible price on any goods they purchase—you’ll want to know about Cheap Uncle, a new online service designed by Chicago-based Duo Consulting that helps consumers find the best deals on all types of merchandise. It’s a very Web 2.0 approach, mashing up feeds of pricing information from Yahoo Shopping with discount information from Coupon Cabin.
At its most basic, Cheap Uncle is a unique online price comparison search engine that searches over 3,000 coupons and deals for more than 26 million products at over 14,000 merchants. Using it is easy. Just type in a search term—iPod Touch—for example, and Cheap Uncles goes to work finding the best deals. You can sort your search results in numerous ways—by customer ratings, base prices, coupons, or price. Cheap Uncle also provides users with a list of the most frequently searched for items, updated daily.
Once you decide to purchase an item, Cheap Uncle takes you directly to the merchant’s web site, applies your coupon discount, and allows you to keep shopping without losing your discount information. When you’re ready to check-out, your savings will automatically appear in your shopping cart. Cheap Uncle is a bit forgetful, however, as it requires you to remember the discount code (something many retailers require at check-out to process your discount) and to enter it manually at checkout.
Cheap Uncle is yet another excellent example of how structured XML content can be applied to solve a specific challenge using the web as an interface. These types of solutions aren’t actually products, they’re services delivered through a Service Oriented Architecture. Those who design them are service designers. You may find yourself a service designer already (or some day in the near future). To help you gain a better understanding of this new approach to designing solutions and delivering content, consider reading Mashup Corporations: The End of Business as Usual. It’s an easy read and will open up many new ideas about the future of content and the role of services and those who design them.