nicolas leroy

Shopping for food

May 07, 2008

During the past months, prices rise of oil, wheat, rice… led to global prices rise on food goods. In France (and I guess in other countries as well), consumers are becoming cautious when buying food: they are now checking and comparing prices more carefully. Still, CSEs don’t have a rich offer when it comes to food. They sometimes have specific categories for “luxury” goods such as wine or chocolate; but as TechCrunch points out:

The ease of comparing prices on the Internet has done a lot to do away with major price differences between individual items at retailers, whether online or off. But where they still get you is when you buy many items from the same store and you throw in the high-margin coffee with the cut-rate shampoo. Higher-priced single items, such as a digital camera or an MP3 player, lend themselves more to online research. Finding the best deal is just a matter of selecting your preferred comparison shopping site (Shopping.com, mySimon, etc.). But what happens when you want to compare an entire cart of groceries across several merchants? Put simply, you are out of luck. Unless of course you happen to be living in the UK and making good use of mySupermarket.

Indeed, mySupermarket lets you fill a shopping cart for grocery goods, and compare prices on four big retailers in the UK. I suppose it’s more difficult to do grocery shopping online rather than buying a camera; also mySupermarket apparently gets prices from the online sites of those retailers – and online prices for food tend to be higher than in real supermarkets. However, that’s a great concept, well executed, and I think it will become more and more popular as long as food prices stay high.

Shopping fruits on mySupermarket.co.uk

Another site: Zeer – recently launched – is more a social destination than a price comparison site:

Zeer is a grocery product community that helps people “believe in what they buy.” We connect people to product information, communities full of like-minded people, and buying advice. Today, modern technology has given you hundreds of thousands of food and beverage products. While having an abundance of choices can be nice, it’s still hard to discover what’s best after figuring in all of your needs plus seemingly endless amounts of information. When faced with so many details, it’s easy to feel completely overwhelmed and unorganized. Imagine instead that you could whittle the world down to a store section build just for you, with all of your friends hanging out, experts available to answer your questions, and all of the products you like and need in one place. Instead of feeling lost in a sea of self-doubt, you are a vessel of strength: confident, admired, and in-touch with your needs.

Terra Chips page on Zeer

On Zeer, you can browse manufactured goods, get nutrition facts, read and write reviews, join a community (from “egg allergy” to “beer lovers“); … and maybe do price comparison in the near future, as Shannon – community manager for Zeer – wrote on TechCrunch:

Hopefully in the future we will be able to provide shopping data on Zeer where users can find out where to buy certain products in their area. Though local restaurant reviews probably won’t be displayed, maybe eventually local reviews of shopping places can come into play so that users can access even more useful information about the best prices and shopping places in their area. This will be especially helpful with our green and organics communities who are more concerned about finding out where local produce and organics can be purchased. There are many possibilities. And we’re pumped to provide them.

Indeed, mixing the pure price comparison of mySupermarket with the facts and reviews on products brought by Zeer would be a very powerful combination to shop food online!