I recently had the chance to share a little bit more of the vision for Basket with Street Fight Magazine, a site dedicated to the business of local and digital strategies. The entire article can be seen HERE, but there were some snippets I wanted to call out below.
Amazon made a name for itself offering discounted prices, and that reputation endures today across its increasingly varied inventory. Other ecommerce companies are similarly regarded as the way to go when you want cheaper prices for just about everything. But a new app called Basket, armed with consumer-collected pricing data, aims to debunk the theory that ecommerce is necessarily the least expensive option by surfacing all of the discounts that can be found in nearby grocery stories.
Unlike other grocery disruptors that focus on speedy delivery and POS technology, Basket has no transactional element; its value lies purely in the information it surfaces — comparing the prices of specific items at a variety of stories near the user’s current location.
Street Fight recently caught up with Basket co-founder (and Waze vet) Andy Ellwood to discuss the company’s plans for profitability and partnerships.
SFM: Tell me a little about how your past career experiences informed the way Basket came into being.
AE: The narrative of what’s possible when you use collective knowledge, to allow a crowd to contribute information, was one of the key takeaways from Waze. Review sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor give very selective information — though it’s crowdsourced, it requires people to go outside of their normal actions to contribute the data informing that service. What Waze is doing, what Basket is doing, is allowing people to do what they were already going to do. In the case of Waze, it’s driving; in the case of Basket, it’s shopping.
SF: What’s Basket’s business model? How can the app be profitable?
AE: The first piece of the business that has been really exciting for our industry partners has been that we’re capturing consumer intent. we can actually look at local demand because of people’s shopping lists. We’re able to say, for example, today there are 1,400 people in Brooklyn looking for paper towels.
Secondly, we have information that is currently stuck somewhere in the POS at local stores, and there’s not a great way for it to be shared.
Lastly, we’ve started testing and having conversations about partnering with local delivery companies and online retailers. We can be the place where that delivery originates.
SF: Why do you think all of the data Basket collects about offline local grocery prices hasn’t been exposed to consumers before?
The difference in prices between stores in a five-mile radius can be as much as 50 percent, based on in-store unadvertised specials, advertised specials, and variance in list price. We started to realize that what people have done in the past in trying to capture sales price information is only taking published sales prices. If you look at a Safeway in the D.C. area, they’ll have anywhere from 2,000-4,000 on products on sale every week, and they carry 40,000-50,000 products. A good chunk of what they have in stock is on sale, but if you look at their weekly circular, they only have 200-300 of those products displayed.
SFM: Where do you see the app evolving from here?
AE: The next release is showcasing both online and offline prices for some of the major online retailers. It’s the first step toward ultimate optimization of your shopping list. In the very near future, we’ll be able to show you the seven products you should go to your local store to purchase, and the four products you should buy online.
Lots of people are shopping blind. They’re being price gouged just based on the stores that are close by to them. The same products might be available for 30 percent less a couple of blocks away. If you have the time, and saving money is important to you, make that decision. If you’re in a hurry, and need something delivered, make that decision. We just want to be the place where people take a look and make an informed decision that’s best for them.
If you haven't already downloaded Basket for yourself, please check it out and let me know what you think!