New App, AllCart, Tackles Grocery Shopping in a Post-Pandemic World

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Supermarkets look a lot different in 2021 than 2020, and the changes have everything to do with the pandemic. AllCart, a new app for nearby grocery deals that launched just this week, believes it can help consumers make sense of the madness.

Covid-19 has forever altered the way we buy groceries, with the majority of shoppers now preferring to buy food online rather than going in-store. Surveys show that more than two-thirds of shoppers (68%) have ordered groceries online for home delivery. App-based services like Instacart and Shipt, and retailers like Walmart and Amazon Prime/Whole Foods, are taking the lead.

Whereas pre-pandemic shoppers searched for deals in store circulars and weekly flyers, it’s tough for consumers now to compare prices while taking additional delivery fees and platform costs into account. It’s a new challenge just waiting for a solution, and the team behind AllCart believes they’ve done just that.

AllCart makes its case

When the AllCart mobile app launched on iTunes and Google Play this week, it became one of the first of its kind to help consumers find the best grocery deals in a post-Covid world. AllCart detects the locations of opted-in users and shows supermarkets nearby, along with price range averages for inventory and information about which stores are offering the best sales. The app also provides users with price charts that show additional charges from Instacart, Shipt, Peapod, and other delivery services, including Amazon, Target, and Walmart.

AllCart Founder and CEO Stash Harrison says his team is focused on delivering an app that will save its users money, but time savings is important, too. Like some competitors on the app marketplace, AllCart includes features like a built-in shopping list that people can use to see where the items they need to purchase are currently on sale.

“One way AllCart helps users increase their savings is by taking a consumer’s existing shopping list and splitting that list against several local stores to get the most sales and maximize savings,” Harrison says. “For example, if you have 40 items on your shopping list, AllCart will find the most sales across several stores and show you how much you will spend if you go to just one store compared to multiple stores to save. If a consumer chooses to go to four different stores, AllCart will display all sales items at each of the four identified stores and show you your savings.”

The tech

The underlying sales and inventory data in AllCart’s app comes from more than 92,000 sales flyers published regularly by supermarkets, pharmacies, and convenience stores across the country. Because different stores publish their circulars on different dates, Harrison says each store’s sales flyer date has to be logged and scanned again at regular intervals.

Location data plays a much more integral role in AllCart than in other grocery apps. Some of those ways are obvious. For example, AllCart can use location to help consumers identify the best grocery deals nearby. But the team at AllCart has found other uses for location that consumers might not see from the front-end of the app. For example, staggering daily sales flyer scans using location and times zones has reduced server costs. 

Harrison says AllCart has also been able to use machine learning to bridge the gap between inventory that includes prices and inventory that does not. 

“AllCart has roughly 200 million items, and growing, in our inventory across the U.S. for which we know the price, but we have over one billion items for which we do not know the price,” Harrison says. “This sounds simple and something that may not require [machine learning] necessarily, but there are actually multiple dimensions to this problem. For example, grocery prices are higher in New York City than Houston, Texas. It would be easy to predict this, but within each city you face a range of very cheap to very expensive grocery store prices on average.”

AllCart uses location data to drill down and estimate prices based on precise locations.

To better understand each neighborhood, and the markets in those neighborhoods, AllCart overlays business and national demographic information onto each market and zip code. 

A solution for the golden age of delivery

Harrison says the increasing use of delivery services has made it harder for consumers to compare prices when they shop for groceries. On average, there’s a 33% markup on delivery over a consumer’s local supermarket. With AllCart, Harrison hopes consumers will be able to get more clarity on the price markups on delivered items so they can make more informed decisions about how their money is spent.

“Post-pandemic, people will continue to want to save money, and monitor what their spending is going toward, especially an essential item such as grocery shopping,” Harrison says. “As places open up and things eventually return to normal, it’s natural that people will want to go back to the supermarkets and return to a ‘normal’ daily routine — anything to be outside and interact with others. They will, however, still be mindful of tracking and saving money on purchases.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.