Power to compare prices
Hargapedia allows consumers to see which store in their neighbourhood offers value-for-money products, writes Balqis Lim
“Our intention is just to help the public. Via this app, we hope consumers will be able to save some money.” Soon Chee Kwang
YOU want to buy a few cartons of milk but you are not sure which shop offers the best price as there are several supermarkets in your housing area. Well, you can either check the prices online or at the supermarkets. However, that would be inconvenient and take up a lot of time.
One company has decided to help the public make smart choices with an app to check promotions and price information.
Developed by Ontrack Digital Services, the Hargapedia mobile app is updated daily with the latest promotional prices, tracking over 4,000 items.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer Soon Chee Kwang says the grocery list is divided into nine categories including baby, beverage, health and beauty, household, frozen and chilled, and pets.
It started 18 years ago when Soon was working for a food and beverages company where he was in charge of analysing the reason why market shares go up and down.
“When I researched promotions and price information, I realised that no one had this type of input,” he says.
Soon had to struggle and collect the data himself. “I realised that promotion and price information are very important. It gave me an idea for a business venture,” he says.
In 2006, he co-founded his company, Intrack Market Services, with Quek Kai Yong.
Focusing on business-to-business (B2B) module, the company offers services which include promotion tracking, category management/plano gramming out-sourcing, in-store tracking, price audit, consultancy and training.
Its promotion tracking service, Mailer Track, provides analysis to help clients in promotion planning and trade fund spending.
“Basically, Mailer Track is a compilation of promotion and price information that we sell to the retailers and brand owners.
“It helps them analyse promotions, tells them why their market shares go up or down, if they are doing enough promotions or if they are doing them correctly, etc,” says Soon.
The company works with over 40 multi-national and local companies such as Coca-Cola, Michelin, F&N, Tesco, Giant and Watsons.
With all the price information they acquire, Soon says it is timely they publish it to help consumers to save, given the high cost of living these days.
Developed last August and launched on Jan 1 this year, the Hargapedia app is easy to use. Users only need to search the product name and the prices at various supermarkets will be shown.
“It is all about finding which supermarket gives better value for money. We are not asking users to go to one particular shop or supermarket to buy certain items. The purpose of the app is for consumers to compare prices between nearby supermarkets,” says Soon.
“Even a RM5 savings is substantial. Imagine if you can save a few ringgit off every item. It all adds up,” he says.
There’s also a brochure section, where all leaflets and newspaper clippings are scanned and published in the app.
Soon says that the costs of the promotional information are provided by the retailers themselves but sometimes the price shown differs from what is found at the shop.
When this happens, the backlash from customers is inevitable.
“We advise customers to bring the proof of price — whether it’s the news clipping or brochure — that we publish in the app to the retailers,” he says.
Another useful feature of the app is Store Locator. Users can choose the hypermarket or supermarket of their choice and it will show the locations of its branches.
Soon says they will have a curated top products for occasions and festive seasons like Chinese New Year or Hari Raya based on the data the company has on what consumers buy most during Hari Raya, for example.
The list consists of essentials such as butter, flour, cordials, cornflakes and cooking oil so that consumers do not have to browse for each item but instead just view the list of top products to save time.
What differentiates Hargapedia from other price information platforms is that the mobile app also has a list of offline prices which are not easily available on other online platforms.
“We have more than 100 people on the ground collecting the data for us,” says Soon.
Hargapedia only lists prices from stores in Peninsular Malaysia. Prices from stores and supermarkets in Sabah and Sarawak will be included later this year as the company is in the midst of collating information.
Soon claims that as of May, Hargapedia already has 150,000 downloads.
Income currently comes from their B2B commerce platform but advertisements may be placed in the future. “Right now, our intention is just to help the public. Via this app, we hope consumers will be able to save some money.”
The app shows prices at various supermarkets.