Savvy and enthusiastic shoppers now have a new way to find grocery deals from their computer or smartphone.
New York City entrepreneur Raul Sukraj combined two concepts - a social-network platform and a bar-code scanner shopping app - and what he got was Flyerbug, a consumer-driven, grocery-price-sharing network.
Sure, there are tons of shopping apps out there, like RedLaser and ShopSavvy. What's different about Flyerbug, though, is the social aspect of it, and the fact that other apps tackle other products, like electronics, apparel, etc., and Flyerbug is strictly about groceries.
Here's how it works.
Go to www.flyerbug.com or download the free app to your iPhone or Android, and sign up. You'll enter a user name and the city you live in.
The next step is to create a watch list of groceries you're interested in finding deals on.
When somebody else in the area scans a bar code of a product you're watching, it will show up in your feed - kind of like when a Facebook friend posts a status update. You will also get an email when people report prices on those items.
Or, if you're at the grocery store and you see a smokin' deal on something, you can scan the bar code with your phone, and that product will show up on other people's feeds.
So, in essence, you're following products. You can also follow other local users.
For example, if you are on a gluten-free diet, and you notice somebody posting a lot of gluten-free deals, you can follow that person.
"The idea is a platform to share prices," Sukraj said. "The idea is to surface the sales that don't make it onto the fliers or to catch items that may not be on sale, so people can do comparison shopping."
There are currently 70,000 retailers listed nationwide, and about 47,000 products.
Tucson grocery stores already listed include Fry's food stores, Albertsons and Safeway.
Another cool feature of this concept: The consumer has the power to add to the database.
For example, if you were to go to Rincon Market and see a good price or an interesting product, you can add it to the listing.
The consumers are not limited by what is already listed.
"We tried to load it up with a bunch of products and a bunch of retailers, so it would be simple to just submit prices," Sukraj said. "But there's nothing preventing consumers from adding missing products or retailers."
According to a Beacon study, social-media chatter about grocery topics is estimated to be more than 10 million yearly.
So, the timing is right for this type of website and app.
"There's an appetite for this," Sukraj said. "Online grocery retail hasn't really taken off, so there aren't a lot of prices on the Web for these to crawl.
"We felt there needed to be a platform to start aggregating these things."
Flyerbug just launched a little over a week ago, so there aren't many members yet. But, I think once people learn about it, it will be a great resource for comparative shopping.
Price Comparison Apps
Here are a few other popular price-comparison apps:
• RedLaser allows you to scan bar codes of products and gives you a list of where the deals are. It also stores loyalty cards.
• ShopSavvy also allows you to scan bar codes and find good deals. It highlights local stores that have the deals, and gives you the opportunity to pay for items if you have your credit-card info saved in the app.
• PriceGrabber lets shoppers search online stores and compare them with in-store prices. It also gives you deals from sites like Groupon.