[iPhone] Buy local goods and services with Zaarly

mzl.bzkfefhy.320x480-75More and more people are coming around to the “Buy Local” lifestyle, demanding thing like locally-produced vegetables and locally-roasted coffee, whenever possible. The next logical extension of the “Buy Local” mentality is to focus on other goods and services from local business owners. To that end, Zaarly aims to provide users with an online marketplace where they can buy direct from local business owners.

What is it and what does it do

Main Functionality

Zaarly puts users in touch with local business owners to buy all kinds of goods and services, from yoga classes to wine to specialty gifts. Just browse the listings from merchants near you, place an order, and send a message to the seller with any special instructions. The service also works as a Craigslist replacement, with some users using Zaarly to sell second-hand items.

Pros

  • All payments are secure and backed by Zaarly’s $10,000 guarantee
  • The purchases can be customized to fit any budget
  • Use Zaarly to buy or sell
  • Huge array of purchases you can make, from custom flower arrangements to meals, personal training to SAT prep, and more
  • Easy to navigate for browsing, while the search function is great for pinpoint bargain hunting
  • Great for people in big cities looking for a personal touch
  • “Ask for it” tool lets you request an item, price, and location for any special gift
  • Ability to put “quiet time” restrictions on Push notifications so they won’t wake you when you’re sleeping, or bother you while you’re on the job

Cons

  • Any marketplace app is only as good as the people who use it, and this was a bit of a ghost town, with very few sellers within 60 miles of my area (and I’m not that far from a major US city)
  • There doesn’t seem to be any way to customize the range of Zaarly listings (ie, listings within 15, 30, 60 miles, etc.)
  • Map function loads very slowly, even at relatively low zoom

Discussion

I love the idea of a “buy local”-oriented shopping app. But as with most apps of this type, it’s hard to get excited by the mzl.msdbliae.320x480-75selection when there just aren’t enough users. Clearly, the selection of buyers and sellers is much larger in metropolitan areas, but as someone who lives pretty close to a major US city, and in a small community where “buy local” is huge, I was really disappointed at the lack of offerings in my area.

That being said, I love the concept and the execution. Zaarly has some great design choices, and the storefronts are very inviting. There really is a great deal of variety here (at least in bigger markets), and that should be commended. I do wish that I could customize the distance that Zaarly searches for you: on some shopping occasions, you might only have time to travel 15 miles, and not 60.

Despite the fact that the map view loads at a glacial pace, Zaarly is a pretty handy shopping app. All payments are secure and backed by Zaarly’s $10,000 guarantee, and I love the fact that users have the ability to put “quiet time” restrictions on Push notifications so they won’t wake you when you’re sleeping.

Conclusion and download link

Zaarly tells users to “Make every day amazing.” But unless you’re in a major metropolitan area, that may be hard to do with this app. However, this shopping app is definitely one to watch: talk it up with your friends, and Zaarly may reach its full potential by the end of 2013.

Price: Free

Version reviewed: 3.1.0

Requires iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch, iOS version 4.3 or later

Download size: 8.7 MB

Zaarly on Apple App Store

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