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Grocery sale notifier?


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#1 Omega

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 10:15 PM

I'd like some feedback on my latest crazy idea.

When it comes to groceries, I always shop sales. I go through the circulars for Publix, Kroger, and Harris Teeter, I see what's on sale at each store that I want, and I buy those things there. This saves me enough money that it's worth it, but it's also very inefficient. Not only does it consume a lot of time, I'm also missing a dozen other grocery stores, all of whom have their own set of sales. So in addition to all my extra time, I'm buying necessities at full price that might be on sale elsewhere. For example, I love Blue Bell ice cream, but I'm absolutely not paying full price for it. By chance I looked at the circular for a local Piggly-Wiggly, and it was on sale for just over half-price! Great find!

So here's what I'm thinking. I want to build a website that aggregates the sale fliers from every supermarket that posts such information. Give it your zipcode and a search string, and it tells you what stores in your area have a matching item on sale. Give it your e-mail address, and it will e-mail you the next time that item goes on sale anywhere in your area. You could stock up on staples when things go on sale, wherever that happens to be, without ever looking at a circular.

As far as I know, this doesn't exist. I've already got search functions written for Kroger, Publix, Harris Teeter, Walmart, Target, Save-A-Lot, Food Lion, and Aldi. This is doable. So before I spent more hours, tell me: am I the only one on earth who would use a service like this? Do you have any other suggestions or ideas?

#2 Tricia

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 08:16 AM

There are some out there....usually on coupon sites or coupon bloggers.

But the main one that I tried when it started out was this one from All You magazine--

http://www.allyou.co...rcular-welcome/

This review of their website pretty much sums up the pros and cons of this one and why I stopped using them.  And it was mostly those cons in the article that  are why I stopped using it.

http://www.examiner....roundup-website

Not sure if they have improved this because I haven't used it or those other ones in a couple years so I'm not sure they haven't improved it.

As to the unadvertised sales....not sure how beyond having a Chat area where folks can tell you about them, you can do that.  And price matching items that aren't on sale, regular prices for their stores.....not sure on that either although my sister and I  keep a list of the regular prices at our fave stores: grocery, Dollar General, Family Dollar, Walmart. etc.   (we only update it when we notice an increase in price while shopping)

I'd use a service like this if it gave me more of those things that are on the con list in the linked article.

But if you can get it done, find a way to contact  coupon bloggers to get their reviews or input because that can really get your website out there.

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#3 Omega

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 05:52 PM

Great to know about the competition! Their interface is terribly cluttered, I have to say. And the cons listed on that review are still present. This looks like the kind of site where nobody thought much about the user interface or experience. Six items per page is just stupid. I'll definitely eliminate that. Comparing by ounces is going to be more complicated, and not possible on all items, but I'll see what I can do. And coupons I hadn't considered yet at all! Good idea to add that in.

They had a few stores on their list I wasn't planning to scrape, so I'm glad to have that info. I've got at least one on my list already that they don't handle. I can say for sure that on my first random search attempt, they missed a LOT of things my search found. No idea what's up with that, but clearly there's a market for a site that just works.

#4 Omega

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 08:17 PM

It may be a little premature, but I do have a live alpha build up, in case anyone's interested:
https://circular-square.appspot.com/

Known bad things:
  • Yes, it's ugly. Style comes later. I welcome suggestions!
  • As of right now, the login does little. You may be able to log in with an OpenID account (google, yahoo, many others; don't worry, they get your password, not me). I haven't tested that functionality yet, and even if you can "log in" all that will happen is that it will assume you live in my zipcode and only like Publix. Eventually, you'll be able to save your zipcode and store preferences, and have searches saved to be e-mailed to you.
  • Occasionally, the search results are a little wonky. You may have to hit the search button twice to get the results to actually show up, and sometimes one store or another may be left off the list the first time.
  • Walmart is slow, at least the first search. I recommend un-checking it if you just want to see how the site works.
  • Some store chains show up in your list even though there's not one within a thousand miles of your zipcode. That's the way their corporate website store finders work. I'm going to add an additional filter to fix that.
Known good things:
  • Simple one-page AJAX interface. Should be easily styleable to look good, even on mobile devices.
  • Eleven grocery chains work, including six national ones. Adding a new store takes about an hour of coding time, so if anyone has one you'd like to see added I'll put it on my list. Otherwise I'm focusing on what's around Nashville.
  • The Stack Exchange is comparable to Wikipedia in usefulness. By all rights I shouldn't have any idea how to do most of what I'm doing.
Any comments and suggestions would be welcome!


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