The app’s co-founder wants to do for grocery prices what Waze did for traffic updates.

Credit: Dan Dalton/Getty Images

Thanks to the internet, the days of paging through a grocery store circular looking for the best deals are waning. And yet, fundamentally, the way most people look for deals online isn’t that much different: You’re just trading paper for a search bar. But the app Basket has been working to shift the grocery shopping paradigm the same way Waze changed the way people got traffic updates – by crowdsourcing user data. It just needs shoppers’ help to get there.

Basket was first launched in 2016, but co-founder Andy Ellwood – who uncoincidentally enough used to work for Waze, which likely explains how he got the idea of tracking the pricing of grocery store staples by having shoppers submit their grocery purchases into an app – recently spoke with FoodNvaigator-USA about his project’s progress. “At Basket, we can tell you what the price of your brand and competitive products is in this particular store in this particular street in Thousand Oaks, yesterday,” he explained. Ellwood says that over 800,000 people have downloaded the app, and about 100,000 are active users.

Though Ellwood admits that there are other ways to find deals at grocery stores, he suggests that what sets Basket apart is its ability to compare your entire shopping list at different stores to determine which option will result in the cheapest final bill. He equates this feature to using a site like Kayak when booking for travel. “If I want to book a hotel room or a car, I can go online, and in moments, I can get the best deal locally,” he was quoted as saying. “Whereas if I want to buy a basket of groceries, my shopping list is about as useful as a printed of map…. We wanted to create a smart shopping list that was so useful to people that they feel it’s worth their while to contribute information to make it smarter.”

Of course, as good of an idea as Basket might be, it has two major variables: First, how good is the tech behind it, and second, how active is the crowdsourcing community. On Google Play, the Basket Savings app has a pretty poor 3.4 out of 5 star rating – suggesting that after two years, Basket is still trying to work out some of the kinks. Maybe the project is even too ambitious for its own good? Still, if you were the kind of person who didn’t mind flipping through a circular before, you probably wouldn’t mind at least trying scrolling through an app now.