Auto-replenishment offers convenience… but at what cost?

autoshipVarious retailers have introduced subscription services that let you set up scheduled deliveries for those items that you buy regularly. These programs are convenient because you no longer have to worry about running out of the most popular items for your household- your deliveries are on auto-pilot.  But, is there a cost for this convenience?

Auto-replenishment is great for retailers as they enjoy increased customer loyalty and regular repeat transactions. Some retailers such as Amazon will even give you a discount to incentivize you to sign up for a subscription. Sounds great, right? Well, there are a few problems:

  1. The price you pay each month is not locked in by the retailer.
  2. Prices in the overall marketplace change month to month and the retailer with the best price one month may not be the best option the next.
  3. You are much less likely to compare prices when you are set up for auto-replenishment.

Hmmm… seems like there’s a good chance of shoppers overpaying with auto-deliveries.

Most programs do give you the option of canceling a scheduled delivery but rely on the fact that most shoppers won’t do that.  Clever programs like Amazon’s “Subscribe and Save” make it even less likely to cancel any 1 item from your order by offering 15% off if you have 5 items in the subscribed delivery. If you cancel 1 of the 5 items, your discount drops from 15% to 5%.

Convenience is great and we’re all for discount incentives but we encourage savvy shoppers to keep control over spending and pay attention to how prices for subscribed items stack up to the best price online.

For example, we reviewed a Tide Coldwater HE 50 oz, 2 pck from Amazon that was eligible for Subscribe & Save and found that even after a coupon and the Subscribe & Save Discount, a shopper could be paying 46% more than the best price option mySupermarket found from Walmart.com. That’s a lot to overpay!

Swap - Subscribe

Shop smart and pay attention to the prices you’re paying for subscribed products so that you avoid the risk of overpaying for convenience.

Top 5 ways to save on groceries

After the mortgage, the biggest expense for most Americans is stocking up on the household staples once a week. Picking up a few savvy shopping habits can really make a difference for the average family. Here’s our top 5 saving tips:

1.       Bulk up 

BountyStocking up on non-perishable staples lets you get a lower price per unit so consider bulking up on those items that you use frequently. The bonus is that you’ll also save time and energy by not having to restock these items every week.

2.       Shop by price per unit

2-barcodeMost stores provide a price per unit on their price label. It’s in small print so you might miss it if you’re not looking carefully but it’s the only way to compare your choices so that you are looking at apples to apples across different pack sizes. A difference of a few cents in the price per unit may seem small but when you multiply those savings times the number of units in the product, it can amount to a lot. mySupermarket actually lets you sort product results by price per unit to make this type of comparison very easy.

 

3.       Shop around

publixbillboardThere is no such thing as one cheapest store for all products all the time. Retailers use marketing campaigns to make you think they have the best prices so you will feel confident about shopping with them and don’t feel compelled to compare on your own. It’s worth the effort to shop around and split your shop across stores. mySupermarket provides a convenient way to do this by letting you shop for the best price on your household essentials from 8 online stores all in one place.

4.       Go digital with your coupons

4-couponsClipping coupons used to be something that was time consuming and just for extreme couponers to care about. But, the introduction of digital eCoupons makes it easy for everyone to take advantage of coupons with the click of a button. Services like mySupermarket make it easy to aggregate all the online coupons across 8 stores and automatically apply the relevant discounts to your purchase so that you can find all the deals in one place.

5.       Avoid shopping simply for convenience

5-savemoneyThat last minute run to the drugstore for paper towels will cost you. Stores established around convenience such as drugstores charge more for this benefit. A lot more. Planning ahead before you run out ensures that you can get the items from where they cost a lot less.

Have other savings ideas to share with our savvy shopper community? Post a comment below or share your ideas with us at mySupermarket on Facebook.

The art of buying in bulk

Costco CartWhen I try to explain the popularity of Costco to someone from outside of the U.S., I’m often met with blank stares.  You mean you have to buy a gallon of mayo and 30 rolls of toilet paper and shop in a big warehouse and then pay a fee for the privilege??? Well, yes, that’s exactly what you do and Costco has created a thriving retail model with this approach because people have learned that bulking up can help you save big.

Costco is so well loved by Americans, that we made it a priority to include it as one of the initial 8 online stores that mySupermarket.com compares. If you decide to purchase a Costco item while shopping through mySupermarket, we’ll connect your membership number at checkout. If you don’t have a Costco membership, you can still make the purchase and pay a 5% premium for non-members.

Your savings will quickly add up if you stock up on bigger quantities of water, paper towels, toilet paper and other items that have a long shelf life and you use regularly. But, it doesn’t make sense to bulk on everything.  It’s helpful to shop where there’s a good breadth of assortment that includes bulk and non-bulk items and be able to easily measure the additional value you are getting by bulking.  You should be in control of deciding how much you buy of what and evaluating the tradeoffs.

mySupermarket gives you the ability to filter for multi packs or single packs depending on your preference and lets you compare the relative per unit pricing for different pack sizes.   If you’re shopping for a non-bulk size, mySupermarket will still let you know how much you can save by swapping to a bigger size in case you do decide it’s worth stocking up after all.

So, take control and bulk up on your own terms. It’s the savvy way to shop.

Why you should shop around

WM EDLPThere’s no such thing as one cheapest store. Stores may want you to think there is but it’s just not true 100% of the time. For this reason it pays to shop around.

We all shop around for the things we need, choosing a store either for convenience, selection, quality or price.  It pays to plan ahead and avoid those last minute runs to wherever is close as you are usually paying extra for the convenience.  Ideally, you spend some time reviewing your current shopping list and figure out where you can get the best prices for your items this week. Remember, this week’s best store choice may be different from last week’s best option.

The challenge is that it’s difficult to price compare every single item on your list each time you shop. First, manufacturers come up with many different packaging variations so retailer assortments don’t always overlap. You are left doing price per unit calculations and after the 3rd product you’ve had enough of the hassle. Second, you want to compare the best price on a basket of 10+ products which is difficult to do in a meaningful way.  This is where again the consumer is in a disadvantage.  The consumer wants to buy a basket of items but the convenience of shopping in one place plus the false comfort that the store you’re in isn’t expensive (supported by big savings signs everywhere) means shoppers don’t know the alternative costs of their baskets- and there’s often a pretty big difference.

Cart FinalBeing able to shop with complete price transparency and conveniently cherry pick the best options across stores is the answer to this problem. Lucky for you, consumer-centric services like mySupermarket are making this type of service a reality. We do the work for you so that you don’t have to worry about choosing the store. You shop from a huge selection of products gathered from the leading online retailers and we find where to split your order across stores to get the lowest price and free shipping for your entire cart. You can very easily shop around for the best price in one place.

Pretty savvy, right?

 

Price confusion in the aisles

Toothpaste (2)Have you ever found yourself staring at the wall of toothpaste in a big box store and wondered why it must be so difficult to find the best value? First, you must process and filter the enormous amount of product options to find your preferred brand and product benefits. Then you have to start making sense of all the pricing.  Stores have a way of leading you to certain choices with bright promotion labels advertising such things as “buy 2 save 20%” or “everyday low price”.  These labels are remarkably effective at swaying the shopper’s choice as it’s just easier to assume the item on sale is the best option than taking the time to compare and process the other prices. But of course, that’s not always true.

Savvy shoppers will see through promotions and compare their preferred product choices based simply on the price per unit which may be displayed very subtly in the price sticker. Most stores now display price per unit but the information is presented in such small type it’s often missed by most shoppers. Surprisingly, online retailers don’t always present price per unit on all products and we have yet to find an online retailer in the US that lets you sort products by low to high price per unit (luckily mySupermarket.com now lets you do that).

Retailers need to make a profit on your purchase and helping shoppers shop smarter and pay less is really not in their DNA (no matter what they may say in their marketing campaigns).  Shoppers need to watch their own back while they shop and look out for their own interest. But this takes patience, a critical eye and a willingness to do a bit of math.

Have you experienced price confusion in the stores?  We’ve started a campaign on our mySupermarket.com Facebook page to provide a place for people to share frustrations or humorous examples of price confusion spotted while out shopping.  Join us.

How can shopping online change retail? The emergence of powerful consumer focused information systems

TargetIt doesn’t seem all that long ago that we were lured into giant, shiny warehouse sized stores –  with big savings signs everywhere, all giving you the false comfort that you are getting the very best prices.  Armed with a fistful of coupons and hypnotized by loss leaders we became over-confident about the value we were getting and kept missing the fact that most of the items in our shopping cart are actually expensive. By doing so, we are helping the store achieve its original objective.   This was exactly the objective of the store’s marketing tactics. They’ve been pretty successful at this because there was no easy way for shopper to figure out whether what they were getting was good value.

add to cartThen the internet came and with it the first real shopping revolution in modern times.  In what seems like no time at all, it’s hard for us to imagine where we would be without it, or what life was like before.  Suddenly we had more control, and with it the ultimate convenience.  We could do our research, decide what we wanted, compare stores and shop from millions of places in our own sweet time without even leaving the couch.

Best of all, this control has helped us save money, especially on the big stuff like a TV, vacation and insurance.   But what about the smaller stuff, the boring everyday household stuff – in fact the stuff you probably spend most of your hard earned dollars on – is it helping us there too?  In many respects the way these products are priced and sold by most retailers, both online and offline, is still done the same ways as pre-internet.  This is especially true when shopping for a basket of small ticket items (groceries, drugstore products, toys, office supplies).  When we buy big ticket items, we research online.  We whittle down dozens of options to 3-4 and choose the best one for us – it’s worth the effort because we can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars.  For example Kayak does a great job of helping consumers on travel and airlines tickets.

When we buy small ticket items we trust the retailer.  We do so because we can’t compare.  It’s too time consuming and the savings are too small to make a difference, right? That’s just for extreme couponers to care about.  Plus, we are led to believe that retailer X is not expensive, or retailer Y “prices can’t be beat”.  That’s at least what the retailers are constantly telling us and what we’re telling ourselves.

In reality, the second largest item in the family budget is grocery and drugstore products (only housing has a bigger spend).  And the price gaps are big, very big.

  • The average price gap for the grocery and drugstore products from the leading online stores mySupermarket compares is 48%!
  • There’s no retailer that’s consistently the cheapest on every item so it pays to shop around. If not, you’re paying a premium by shopping only in 1 store and without doing the research, you have no idea how much your overpaying.

Ok, so you get the value of shopping around but time is money and you don’t have any of that to spare. That’s where we can help.

We are new way to shop savvier, or at least new for the U.S.  We’ve been around in the U.K for a while now and around 1 in 10 British households visit us every month to save on groceries. Today is the day we are launching our service for the U.S. shopper.

Our premise is simple and can be said in four words- we work for you. We help you get the best price for the brands you want and need across the biggest online retailers to give you control over your shopping.  Here’s how it works:

 how it works blog

This shopping platform lets us save you on average 17% and makes us cheaper than any single online store. And with the added control provided by our recommendation system you can save much more.  Finally, a new and smarter way to shop and save conveniently.  Pretty radical, hey?

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