If you have been to a Magic Beans store recently, you may have seen signs about its one-of-a-kind shopping application. Until recently, I would see the advertisement and promptly forget about it until the next time I saw the sign, and so on.

However, I was invited to an event to learn more about the Magic Beans smartphone app. We got to chat with the owner of Magic Beans and the app’s developer AisleBuyer. Then we got to spend $50 Magic Bucks as we tried it out.

I promptly kicked myself for not learning about it sooner.

I am a huge fan of self-service shopping and checkouts at retailers like Stop & Shop, BJs and CVS. I always choose that option or that line. It makes the shopping experience super fast and fabulously efficient. Other times, I look like crap or I’m in a crappy mood and just want to get in and get out without having to interact with anyone. Throw in a screaming baby, or a toddler in a tantrum, and self-service shopping/check-out goes from ‘awesome’ to ‘absolutely necessary’.

But this is how the Magic Beans app works:

First, you need to have an iPhone or Andriod phone (though more options are in the works). The application was designed and developed by a local Boston-based company called AisleBuyer, and mark my words, they are posed to hit the shopping world by storm. This Magic Beans app is the first in the nation, but I am sure that we will be seeing more in the months ahead.

The second thing is to download the app. Once it is downloaded, it will ask you two things: whether or not you want to receive push notifications, and if the app can use your location.

The push notifications aren’t necessary, so you can say no, but if you say yes, you can get notices when there is a special promotion going on in Magic Beans stores, or targeted discounts on things you might be interested in. Say you’ve purchased 4 of the 5 parts of the Star Wars Lego set…the next time you’re in the store, you may get a 25% of coupon for the 5th set. Cool.

The use of your location is necessary though. Otherwise, the application doesn’t know you are in a Magic Beans store and won’t work otherwise.

After that, you create a username and password, and then enter your payment information, like a credit card number and your billing address. This information is saved in a “cloud”. What that means is that even if someone takes your phone, there’s no way they can pull the information from it. A lot of people get freaked out by shopping on a phone, but the payment system utilizes a 128-bit encryption, so it’s every bit as safe as online banking.

So, the first time you use the app (assuming you haven’t downloaded and set it up before coming to Magic Beans) it does take a little extra time (maybe 1-2 minutes) to set up your information. But it is a one time deal, so when you come back to Magic Beans again and use the mobile check-out, it will be a lot faster.

Now that you have done the above steps, you’re ready to shop.

All you do is walk around Magic Beans and scan barcodes using the camera on your phone. The app is directly linked to the Magic Beans computer system, so you have access to all of the product information that they have, such as reviews, specifications, special deals, as well as the price. It is like you are shopping online, but in person. (Plus, it alerts a Magic Beans’ employee that someone is electronically shopping. So if there is any willy-nilly going on, they can get the 411.)

Finally, when you’re ready to check-out, you can do it from anywhere in the store. So if your toddler is about to have a meltdown, you are not having to stand in line too. On your phone, you just go to your cart, review your purchases, and click checkout. You then get a receipt on your phone, which is stored there – no paper involved – and you get a copy emailed to you as well. You also get a 6 digit confirmation code, which is shown to a a Magic Beans employee who verifies the purchase on their computer system (much like warehouse stores do when they check your receipt at the door).

From the time you’re ready to checkout, until the time you’re walking out the door, the checkout process usually takes 15-20 seconds, 30 seconds tops. Even if there is zero line, it’s STILL faster, because everything has already been scanned, all the discounts are applied, and all of your payment information is stored.

One example I got from a representative from AisleBuyer, was of a woman who had a downloaded the app and who had come to Magic Beans again because she had forgot to purchase an item on a previous trip. With a checkout line 6 people deep, she used the app. From the time she walked into the store until she walked out of the door, item in hand and paid for, it took 54 seconds and she saved $3 dollars.


Generally, I like that there is no more watching for coupons or searching for discount codes. I also love you don’t have to deal with paper receipts either, and if for some reason you have to return an item, Magic Beans has the information electronically too. So no more searching for the receipt you shoved in a car console, a random pocket or at the bottom of a diaper bag. I also love that Magic Beans ‘gets it’. Parents are busier than ever and it is great that Magic Beans offers a unique way to help us get what need, quickly, but without sacrificing quality. (Now if I could only get the nearby Starbucks to have a drive-thru…) However, if you like shopping the old way, or not too keen on the technology, no worries. You can still check-out at the cash register, and chit chat with the awesome Magic Beans employees.

But…if you are now slightly intrigued by this app, the next time you shop at one of Magic Beans stores, check it out. If you are there between now and Christmas and you use the app to buy your items, you get the chance to “Spin the Magic Wheel” on your phone, and save $1, $3, or $5 off your purchase, or win everything in your cart for $0.99. Nice!

Anyway, I love the app. I think it is really neat, and the technology behind the application will soon change the way many of us will be shopping for a long time to come.

Isn’t that just Magic?


Image Credit: Magic Beans

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One Comment

  1. Hi Charlene,

    Thanks so much for coming to Magic Beans and trying out the app – glad to hear you enjoyed it. Keep an eye out for AisleBuyer in the near future as we’re going to be popping up in some new places very soon…maybe we can do something about that Starbucks wait.

    Hope you and your family have a very merry Christmas :-)

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