Pocket a Bargain with HUKD

Everyone likes a bargain, don’t they? If you are UK-based and haven’t yet encountered hotukdeals.com (HUKD), then I suggest you head over there soon to see what bargains you can bag — but not yet. First I want to introduce you to an app that takes all of the wealth of knowledge from that most excellent site, and filters it down to your iPhone.

Basket Buddy finds great deals and hot price drops in a store near you. Using the iPhone’s GPS locator, Basket Buddy will overlay a Google Maps map of all the nearby shops with known bargains in. You simply tap to view, see if something takes your fancy, then walk in and buy. It really is that simple.

And if the walking puts you off a bit, fear not! You can use the companion app iHotUKDeals to browse national and online deals and price drops right from the comfort of your armchair. All of this functionality is available in two free apps — your first two bargains of the day.

Read on for more.
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Starting Up

Let’s look at Basket Buddy first — this is specifically the Groceries deals section from the hotukdeals.com website, packaged in an easy-to-access way for the iPhone. Software designed to be used out-and-about must be easy to use, with a slick interface and rapid response to a changing location. Bargain Buddy is all of this. You will need to be within a 3G area or float in and out of public WiFi hotspots to benefit though. Anything less will reduce the app to something like stirring fudge — difficult and slow.

Launching the app takes you straight into a Google Map of your immediate area which, after a few minutes fetching stores, is overlaid with some large green dots representing stores nearby. These are your portals to the magic of bargain hunting. Press on a dot to find out the names of the nearby shops, and a quick summary count of the number of potential bargains to be found there.

Google maps augmented view helps pinpoint nearby deals.

Google maps augmented view helps pinpoint nearby deals.

Bringing up the list of bargains from the Google map is smooth and displayed in a very clear user interface. On my initial search, the nearest store to me, Boots on Regent Way, was automatically selected and the number of deals highlighted. If the name of the store is a little bit longer than the screen area, you may find that bargain number is truncated along with the store name. Unfortunately switching to landscape is not an option here as this is a portrait-only application.

What’s in Store?

Tapping on a green dot will reveal the store name, and a tap on its right arrow will bring up the deals in that store. One thing to bear in mind about the nature of this application is that you are bargain hunting, and not all bargains listed will be found. It may be that they are so popular they are already sold out, perhaps even by other HUKD users. There can sometimes be variations in what local stores stock, so don’t be too upset not to find every bargain listed.

Basket Buddy deal example from Tesco Express

Basket Buddy deal example from Tesco Express

The example above shows a superb deal for one of my favourite snacks. Posted bargains often have a photo of the actual deal in store, or something that represents the item clearly, and a description with details about the bargain. Often it is a surprise discount or perhaps a pricing error that triggers a bargain.

Smooth Operations

I’ve used this application up and down the country whilst testing for this review. I’ve found it exceptionally quick to use, easy to find local stores and really enjoyable fun hunting through a store for a specific brand or discount. I actually spotted two students recently browsing the app in Asda, and we both ended up buying two 1 kg boxes of Crunchy Nut cornflakes on special offer, and I showed the app to the checkout lady too. This is truly social media in action.

Detailed deal information is hiding behind each green dot.

Detailed deal information is hiding behind each green dot.

If you find a deal yourself and want to upload, it is also very straightforward. You have the benefit of a barcode scanner to assist in identifying the product you have found, although in my testing the product lookup did mistake a pack of milk chocolate digestives for an MP3 player.

A Hot Companion

The iHotUKDeals companion application shows a mobile version of the hotukdeals.com website, focusing less on local grocery deals and more on national and online offerings. There are sections that cover deals, vouchers, freebies and competitions. You can select to sort the offerings by Newest if you like to be first in to get things recently posted or sort by Hottest for those tried and tested deals.

My Deals and More Deals show a vast array of UK store offers.

My Deals and More Deals show a vast array of UK store offers.

The temperature of a deal is based on how many people like it by clicking hot, or dislike it by clicking cold. The net number of degrees then becomes a good indicator of how good and popular a deal is. If you are looking for something specific, you can tap on search to input a relevant term, and the iHotUKDeals app will highlight those for you.

Great deals, if you can get them

One aspect that could be made more useful is the links to printable vouchers. After finding a great Beefeater 50% off offer, I went to print directly from the app and wasn’t able to as there is no direct print option available. I ended up having to e-mail the deal to my laptop and print from there.

HDUK4 (Custom)

The deals are wide and varied, and include offline offers as well as the easier to deliver electronic offerings. From free applications for your Mac or iPhone to a free book or music download, it’s all here. You can bookmark a deal to return to later, or browse through categories such as audio-visual, mobiles, gaming, computers, entertainment or home.

Set Me Up

iHotUKDeals is easy to configure with important settings such as Online or Offline deals toggle, Minimum Temperature for those popular deals and excluding expired deals. You don’t want to spend time chasing a deal only to find it has already expired or is unavailable. This is especially true of offers where there has been an incorrect price listed.

HUKD3 (Custom)

I’ve submitted my credit-card details a few times on offers where the retailer has caught on quickly to stop the error, but in some cases has debited my card. So be a little careful with where you buy from, and try and stick to known good retailers for protection. It is also worthwhile using a credit card that has purchase protection for internet retailers.

Deal or No Deal?

I recommend you trying out both of these applications. I am sure you will be surprised at just how many deals are happening near you that you simply weren’t aware of. Join in with the community by posting good offers that you find, and make sure you have both a good credit card for on-line purchases, and enough funds to purchase all the great deals you find.


Summary

Basket Buddy is great for finding localised bargains. It merges data from the HUKD web site with a Google maps feed based on your current location. It's also great for posting a super bargain that you find up to the main web site. iHotUKDeals has a much more wider scope, and brings in web deals, freebies and exclusive offers that would otherwise be hard to find.

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