Finding the lowest grocery prices in town? There’s an app for that.
The app, called Basket, utilizes crowdsourcing to get prices on milk, bread, eggs – and everything else you can imagine – at supermarkets across the nation.
Austin shoppers have been especially quick to embrace the app, said Andy Ellwood, Basket’s president.
“Austin’s a really interesting market because you’ve got big national retailers doing battle with a very strong regional grocer, H-E-B,” said Ellwood, a Texas A&M graduate who managed strategic partnerships for Austin-based Gowalla earlier in his career. “The prices change so fast here.”
Basket users input their shopping list and the app crunches the numbers, telling them which nearby grocery or discount store they should visit to save the most money. It might be H-E-B, it might be Wal-Mart or it might be a mom-and-pop shop such as Austin’s own Royal Blue Grocery.
The app is free to download in Apple’s App Store and via Google Play.
Basket knows how much things cost because its army of nearly half a million users inputs prices as they shop. Ellwood said about 90 percent of Basket users enter prices into the app, helping out their fellow penny-pinchers.
On a recent day, the app indicated split chicken breasts were cheapest at the Aldi store in Pflugerville, where they were $1.79 per pound. For folks not willing to drive that far, they were a nickel more – $1.84 per pound – at 10 different Austin-area Wal-Mart stores.
A half-gallon of Horizon-brand organic milk, meanwhile, was cheapest at 11 area H-E-B stores, coming in at $3.88. The price was 10 cents more at the city’s two Fiesta stores, where shoppers reported paying $3.98.
Ellwood said the app has about a million products in its database; the average grocery store has 40,000 different products.
For people with long shopping lists, a nickel here and a dime there can quickly add up, Ellwood said, particularly since the average American shops 3.2 times per week.
“The average shopping list is between $100 and $200 per week, and it’s not unusual to see people save 30 percent or more with Basket,” Ellwood said. “We’re talking savings of $3,000 per year. That’s a family vacation. That’s a down payment on a car.”
Basket, which is based in Arlington, Virginia, has partnerships with some brands, Ellwood said, giving them preferred play in the app as “suggested” products. That’s one way the company is bringing in money to help it grow, Ellwood said.
There was also a trial partnership with ride-hailing app Fasten, where Basket users were driven to and from Wal-Mart stores, that was another attempt to bring in revenue to expand.
Ellwood compares Basket to travel app Kayak or real estate apps Trulia and Zillow, helping consumers compare and contrast prices via their smartphones.
“For consumers, it’s a great thing,” he said. “As a regular consumer, you haven’t been able to very easily check prices at local stores like you do for everything else. We’re changing that. We’re your advocate.”
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