The initial inner workings of a price comparison tool called Basket began when Neil Kataria was a kid. He loved to optimize his mom and dad’s shopping trips by clipping coupons and spotting sales. Years later, he found himself spending a ton of baby products and groceries when he had a family. And comparing prices between grocers wasn’t an easy feat.
As a result, Kataria founded Basket. The app, which is available on the App Store and Google Play, searches millions of products and prices at both brick-and-mortar and online stores so consumers can find the best buy for their shopping lists.
“We can empower shoppers to get all the information they need at their fingerprints to make the best purchasing decision for themselves,” Basket Founder and CEO Neil Kataria told PYMNTS.com in an interview.
To bring pricing data into the app, Basket didn’t hire an army of workers to visit stores across the U.S. and collect pricing data. Instead, it uses crowdsource data from everyday users.
The concept is not entirely new, but the application is unique. Platforms such as Yelp and TripAdvisor have utilized user-generated content for hospitality, but that approach has not been used on the same scale for shopping, Kataria said. To encourage users to submit pricing data, Basket offers different incentives such as gift cards. Basket has essentially gamified the price collection process, and the strategy has served the app well.
“That’s been a big part of our growth and building our community out,” Kataria said, adding that it’s a community feel that supports the app’s core platform.
In another innovative twist, Kataria said that his app provides the first smart shopping list. “We built the first ground-up grocery search engine,” he said.
With the engine, shoppers can compare prices for individual items across multiple stores. And the team has also worked for three years to build a tool that will compare prices for a consumer’s entire basket across multiple stores, including online grocers such as Peapod and AmazonFresh. The online grocery market is booming, after all.
With a faster pace of adoption than previously expected, 70 percent of shoppers will purchase some portion of their groceries online within five to seven years, according to a Food Marketing Institute and Nielsen report cited by CNBC. Previously, both organizations believed it would take up to a decade for consumers to become interested in buying their groceries online.
“There is a fundamental shift in retail, and we are seeing an acceleration,” said Thom Blischok, global retail strategic advisor of Nielsen. “You can now find the basics of living online pretty easily.”
Their spending could reach $100 billion, greatly impacting grocery shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. Still, consumers are expected to make 80 percent of their grocery spending offline.
Basket doesn’t only help consumers with their shopping trips, but it can help retailers and CPG brands understand the market. “They absolutely need more data intelligence,” Kataria said.
With the data, retailers could better analyze data on pricing and promotion in real-time. As a result, retailers could make better decisions — and have a fighting chance to compete with Amazon.
In addition, Basket could allow retailers to reach consumers through promotions and, with future capabilities of the app, encourage users to shop at its stores as they compare prices. A retailer, for example, could offer consumers a $10 discount on their basket if they choose to visit one of its locations within 24 hours.
Brands could use the data to price or promote their products better, too. They don’t get that kind of data back from grocers, after all, Kataria said.
The Road Ahead
In the future, Basket is looking to have its technology on devices like an iPhone.
“We believe that shoppers will create shopping lists across different platforms,” Kataria said. “We can be where the consumers [are] going to be.”
For example, Kataria believes that people will create shopping lists with voice-enabled assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home Assistant. Basket has an Alexa skill, after all.
Kataria is also looking to expand Basket beyond the U.S. and grocers: He wants to bring it to other countries in the future – with more product categories.
“We want everyone to start their journey with Basket,” Kataria said.