Power to com­pare prices

Har­ga­pe­dia al­lows con­sumers to see which store in their neigh­bour­hood of­fers value-for-money prod­ucts, writes Balqis Lim

New Straits Times - - INNOVATION -

“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.

CON­STRUC­TIVE EX­PE­RI­ENCES

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.

THE APP

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.

CU­RATED LIST

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.

MOV­ING FOR­WARD

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.

Pic­ture by Hal­i­ma­ton Saa­diaH

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