The best technology solves the problems that we encounter the most frequently. And while these may not always be the sexiest problems, they more than make up for it in utility. Grocery savings is one of these problems. The idea of manually clipping coupons and comparing prices is about as appealing as listening to a screaming baby, but the digital solutions to date have all left something to be desired – either they’re functionally limited, biased to a single retailer or brand, or regularly offer expired or irrelevant coupons. It’s an everyday problem that’s begging to be solved, once and for all.
Savings.com is pulling the curtain back on what has been a two-year project to do just that with the nationwide release today of Favado, a mobile savings platform for grocery and household items. The iOS and Android app does a few things better than its competition.
First, it displays both coupons and non-coupon sales, meaning the user has a full picture of the savings available. Second, it works across more than 65,000 grocery stores, drugstores, and big box retailers nationwide – including, among them, Kroger, Albertsons, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Target, Meijer, Smart & Final, and Piggly Wiggly – allowing shoppers to compare prices and create the most cost-effective shopping route for a given week. Not surprisingly, the company describes the app as being like a “Kayak for grocery savings.” Finally, users can favorite items that they buy regularly and receive notifications to stock up when that item goes on sale
“Buying groceries is one of our largest non-discretionary expenses, but tracking sales and promotions takes too much legwork,” Savings.com says in a statement today.
Favado is not aimed at the super-couponer, but rather the average consumer who wants in on a bit more of these savings. The app does, however, allow these everyday shoppers to take advantage of some of the more advanced savings techniques like stacking coupons on top of sales, and tracking ecoupons, newspaper inserts, and mail-in-rebates – which often amounts to 30 to 70 percent off retail prices. In other words, you can go from zero to savings blackbelt without doing all that obsessive-compulsive legwork that’s become the fodder of a hit reality TV show.
Favado does benefit from the super-couponing community by virtue of a data sharing relationship with 80 of the top savings aficionados. The company has partnered with what it calls “DealPros,” aka savings bloggers (yes, that’s a thing), to crowdsource regional sales data which is layered on top of informaiton sourced from its nationwide partnerships. These experts, who highlight their top deals for the week within the Favado app, are incentivized to share this information through a quid pro quo data sharing agreement within the community – Favado built a slick Web-app that allows DealPros to efficiently push additional crowdsourced regional savings content to their blogs, thus driving increased traffic.
Grocery savings was a natural category extension for Savings.com which already helps consumers save in the ecommerce category, by way of its namesake website and in the local category through ValPack.com.
“The team at Savings.com noticed that ‘groceries’ was the most searched category on our site – our visitors wanted grocery deals from us,” says Savings.com President Loren Bendele. “Plus, we had excellent long-term relationships with the nation’s top grocery bloggers. So, we were confident we could build an app that aggregates all the best sales and coupons across stores.”
Favado is the second generation of the stealthy grocery savings app being incubated inside Savings.com. The first iteration, named Grocery Nation, was released exclusively in Cincinnati, Ohio as a test market in April of this year. The app was short on design appeal, but served as an invaluable testing ground for the use case and data crowdsourcing model, says Favado General Manager Chris Tyler.
The app’s beta users spent an average of two to three minutes in the app per session, browsing sale data from an average of six stores each time, the company. Users added an average of 17 sale items to their shopping list per week and to the app and the store multiple times weekly for new sales.
The USDA calculates that the average American family of four spends $200 per week on groceries. Favado estimates that such a family using its app can easily save an average of $3,125 per year (at a conservative percent savings rate).
Favado may not be aimed at the successful mid-30′s urban American, but is likely to be a big hit with the tens of millions of Americans desperately seeking ways to save real on their monthly grocery bill. And with the app being free to use, available on both leading mobile platforms, and offering nationwide coverage, there’s no one who will be locked out of the savings.
“Lots of savings apps are self-serving to the company that makes them,” Bendele says. “We think we’ve actually come up with a way to create a service that makes sense for everyone.”
Favado isn’t emphasizing monetization at this early stage, although it will receive limited compensation for coupons redeemed through the app, Tyler says. At the early stage, the company’s biggest risk, and thus its biggest focus, will be scaling the user base to a meaningful number.
The reality is, that while Favado is among the more compelling savings solutions I’ve encountered, it’s still a single new title among a noisy sea of challengers. The list-making category is particularly crowded, including GroceryIQ, ListBliss, while Wanderful and others claim the low-tech circulars category.
Favado improves in a number of ways on the existing grocery savings options, but offering the best product isn’t always enough to win a given market. The good news is that Savings.com has some advantages, by virtue of its sheer heft and reach, in its efforts to get users’ attention. The bad news is, that’s no guarantee in the ultra-competitive App Store ecosystem. Consumers are an unpredictable bunch, but nothing grabs their attention like saving money. If Favado can get the word out about its new offering, it should have a real chance of taking off.
[Image via OneIncomeFamilyLiving]