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Innovation & Job News

Chinatown company releases comparison shopping app for groceries, other industries to follow

PriceSpotting, a mobile app for comparing prices in grocery stores in the greater D.C. area, soft launched at the Consumer Electronics Show last week in Las Vegas and is already proving very popular with users. The app is one of two being developed by Chinatown-based Blue Tiger Labs.
"It's really cool to see the app live—to see consumers using it and finding their favorite brands," says Neil Kataria, founder and CEO of Blue Tiger Labs.
As Pricespotting users shop for groceries, they scan each item's barcode and enter the regular price and the sale price (if there is one). The app lets them know the price of the item they scanned at nearby stores, alerting them to sales. In addition to comparing prices, the app rewards users for scanning items with points. Accumulated points can be converted to cash rewards.
"Retailers don't publish their prices online," Kataria says. "You have to fend for yourself. About 385 sales might be advertised in a flyer, but closer to 4,000 products are on sale. We're actually capturing unadvertised sales prices."
Kataria's team of 13 can't be in all stores all the time, so they rely on consumers to scan and update the prices in the system—hence the rewards structure. Right now, the app lets consumers compare prices on groceries and baby products only, but more goods are coming soon.
"Our plan is one new industry per month," Kataria says. "Health and beauty in January, shoes and sporting items in February, apparel and home goods [blenders and coffeemakers, etc.] in March and electronics in April." He stresses that for now, these are local prices. Eventually, the app will integrate with Amazon, to compare local and online prices.
PriceSpotting is free and "will stay free," Kataria says, "because of its sister app, the Mobile Merchant platform." Mobile Merchant is a hardware-free inventory management system for small businesses currently in beta. Retailers that use it pay a monthly subscription fee.
Though currently only in the D.C. area, Kataria says PriceSpotting will be rolling out in San Francisco, Atlanta, New York and L.A. in the next few months. Coupons, list integration and a social component are also coming soon.

This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Neil Kataria's last name.

Read more articles by Allyson Jacob.

Allyson Jacob is a writer originally hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is the Innovation and Job News editor for Elevation DC. Her work has been featured in The Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati CityBeat. Have a tip about a small business or start-up making waves inside the Beltway? Tell her here.
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