Grocery comparison site Grocio is inching closer to a public launch. On Monday it opened up its doors to beta users in Tulsa, Okla.
The site, which helps people comparison shop for goods at local grocery stores, is still a long ways from being available nationwide. Its methodology, though, is sound. Each week founder Gerald Buckley sends out scans of the latest grocery circulars--yes, the ones that turn Sunday's paper into a phonebook-size behemoth, to Amazon's Mechanical Turk. Once there, they're transcribed into text files that Grocio's search engine can use to do its magic.
The whole process takes about two hours. After which, users can see how much the items on their grocery list would cost, then pick out the lowest-priced store--complete with any coupons that they'd need to print out and bring with them.
Getting that pricing and coupon information from the circulars is not exactly the fastest or most cost-effective method, but so far it's been one of the only ways to play. Buckley says that since its launch, grocers have perceived Grocio one of two ways: some have gladly handed over the latest pricing information, while others look at the service as a threat--something that could chase away potential customers.
Despite the fact that most shoppers aren't likely to go across town to pick up the other half of their shopping list, some grocers worry that Grocio's system means they won't come at all if they're getting an all-around better price elsewhere.
Part of Buckley's strategy at winning both sides has been to start low, and to play them off each other. He's gunned for the "value-leaders," or stores that are running big sales on what they're selling. Getting these stores into the system means shoppers will have to compare those prices to the higher-margin competition, who in turn have to step it up to get noticed.
To augment that, last month Buckley introduced… Read more