There’s an App for That: Grocery Shopping that Makes Cents

by Editorial

Basket is one big data entrepreneur’s crowdsourced approach to grocery shopping savings — and it’s heating up.

Neil Kataria is founder and CEO of Basket, an app that helps you save money at the grocery store. (Photo by Dara Klatt.)

By Dara Klatt

So many groceries to buy (again). So many stores. And so little time and cash to burn. Hmm, what to do … Wait, you guessed it, there’s an app for that. It’s called Basket, the brainchild of Neil Kataria, a data science expert and Arlington, Va. entrepreneur, and he’s literally got sweat beads of excitement forming on his forehead as he talks about giving power to the grocery shopper.

Basket is a smart grocery list built “for shoppers, by shoppers” that takes your shopping list and locates which stores nearby or online carry all your items and where the price for your total list is cheapest (Hint: it’s usually not online). It’s a crowdsourced approach based on having what Basket claims is the largest community of grocery shoppers in the world working together.

Enter, for example, organic raspberries, Sriracha, red wine vinegar and dark chocolate Ghirardelli chips into the app and you’ll see that prices can vary 26 percent based on choosing a grocery retailer one mile away, versus another six blocks away. All you need to do is head in the right direction to accumulate week-after-week savings; no couponing necessary. Maybe that’s why Basket is brandishing the hashtag #GrocerySoHotRightNow.

Kataria’s fire for saving started early. Even before his teens he was a price-calculating savant obsessed with weekly newspaper grocery ads and coupon inserts. He would match local sales with items the family purchased, add in coupons and then sum up savings from the receipts in a notebook. “We were saving $30 to $40 every trip,” he says, “I just loved it.”

Fast forward to being a parent of three and Kataria wondered if he was getting the best savings by ordering items online from Amazon and, or if he could save more by shopping locally. In his research he found that shopping offline could save nearly 30 to 40 percent.

That prompted him to launch the company in 2014 and the app in 2016 with Andy Ellwood, an early employee of Waze — the c community-based traffic and navigation app. Now, Basket boasts over 500,000 users who have helped to add over 16 billion dynamic prices, and covers over 170,000 stores across the U.S.

Momentum is clearly in high gear. Steve Harvey’s daytime talk show, “STEVE,” recently featured Basket for a whole week of soul food cooking and saving on recipe items with celebrity chef Lawrence Page. Harvey pronounced in one segment: “We ain’t talking about nothing but chicken and the Basket app!”

On the business end, Basket just took its “gold mine” of pricing information and proprietary technology to launch a platform where brands can track nationwide competitor pricing on a daily basis. Next, Basket is aiming to aggregate available coupons; include nutritional information and tags (“vegan,” “gluten free,” “Paleo”); and offer useful venue information such as safe parking lot lighting or how a store caters to children. Regardless of hard-charging targets ahead, Kataria’s goal with Basket remains simply, “to have shoppers who have saved time for themselves or family, as well as have saved money.”

Ok then, last question: how has the app, with this ability to save time and money as well as collaborate on the grocery list, affected him personally?

Pause. Slight smile.

“My wife and I argue less,” he says.

And that’s #SoHot.

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