Imagine the impact of a price-comparison site that reveals managers’ specials in real-time, writes Elit Rowland
Price-comparison sites have had a massive impact on consumer shopping, making it easier than ever for anyone – from your brother to your gran – to be price-savvy.
But it’s not just the supermarkets that are going under the spotlight: price-comparison sites are available for hotels, car insurance, washing machines and even socks, if you look hard enough.
Supermarkets have embraced the change, with Sainsbury’s offering instant price-matching and money-off vouchers at the till, which has inspired fantastic customer loyalty.
But one sector that hasn’t been saturated by price-comparison sites is wholesale. To date, there have been very few price-comparison tools for caterers or retailers that effectively compare, in real-time, key products across a number of different depots.
But things could be about to change. With such a huge opportunity at stake, there are contenders on the rise. The most recent is comparethewholesaler.com. The site, which is gearing up to launch in August, promises to compare prices of the top brands at the leading wholesalers and cash & carries, and make it ‘simple for independent retailers and traders to find the biggest brands at the best price’.
Sales director Robert Morrison says “we’ll start by following the top 100 beacon brands in the independent retail sector”. It will be updated frequently and will also cover managers’ specials and daily deals.
So how does the site collect the data? Morrison explains that it will rely entirely on updates from independent retailers and wholesalers themselves. “We know that retailers want this information, and they will be motivated by the benefits it brings.”
Morrison admits that the website may get off to a slow start, with organisers having to “beg, borrow and steal” information initially. But once the ball gets rolling, the site will deliver a “paradigm shift in the wholesale and cash & carry channel”.
Last year, a company that has asked not to be named attempted to develop a wholesale promotion-comparison site to offer a consolidated view of promotional activity in the UK’s grocery wholesale channel. Unfortunately, the challenge of getting real-time data proved too difficult so the project was abandoned.
A similar website to comparethewholesaler.com is improvethatprice.com – the UK’s first food and drink price-comparison website for professional caterers. The site, which launched last year, claims to work with at least 60 suppliers, after starting with just a handful in 2012, including JJ Food Service.
JJ’s general manager, Terry Larkin, told Better Wholesaling in October that price-comparison is expected to become increasingly important to wholesalers’ customers, as caterers become “more discerning over price”.
But not everyone is happy to ride the price-comparison wave. In May this year, 3663 demanded that all information relating to its business should be removed from improvethatprice.com, as the wholesaler had not given permission for its logos and prices to be used.
In the same month, Palmer & Harvey announced the launch of an iPhone app that enables customers to scan products’ barcodes to compare with its own prices.
But an industry insider says that while there is value in offering wholesale price-comparison, the best website will compare the daily deals and managers’ specials: these, not the three-weekly promotions that “everyone goes on about”, are the ‘real deals’.
Comparethewholesaler.com hopes to provide a way for wholesale managers to upload specials themselves.
Robert Morrison says, “The clever wholesalers should embrace the inevitable… we could put many of them on the map.”