New app to help consumers compare prices

Dr Tan Wu Meng (at right), Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Trade and Industry, trying out the Price Kaki mobile app, developed by the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case), at Case's fund-raiser yesterday. With him was Case's deputy head of ap
Dr Tan Wu Meng (at right), Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Trade and Industry, trying out the Price Kaki mobile app, developed by the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case), at Case's fund-raiser yesterday. With him was Case's deputy head of apps development and community engagement Lin Zhixun.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Price Kaki will list prices provided by partner businesses and shoppers, offer perks to users

Want to know which supermarket is offering a promotion on your favourite brand of milk, or where to head to for the cheapest carrot cake in your area?

A new mobile app by the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) aims to help consumers stretch their dollar by allowing them to compare prices of groceries and hawker food. Price Kaki, to be rolled out later this month, will compile prices provided by partner businesses as well as shoppers.

Consumers can earn rewards such as grocery and movie vouchers for contributing in-store retail prices and promotions they come across, which must be verified with photo evidence.

Users of the app can search for an item, find the retailer offering the lowest price and be alerted to any price changes.

They can also look up nearby supermarkets and hawker centres, or search by dish to find the nearest stalls that sell it, and what it costs.

The app, which will be available for download on Apple's App Store and Google Play from Sept 28, will be trialled first for a total of 31 supermarket outlets and 11 hawker centres in Jurong West, Tampines and Toa Payoh, before being extended to the rest of the island early next year.

Details were shared by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Trade and Industry Tan Wu Meng at Case's annual fund-raising lunch yesterday.

Dr Tan, who announced the development of the app during the debate on his ministry's budget in March, said in a speech at One Farrer Hotel that the crowdsourcing app empowers consumers to share and more easily access price information.

"It is like a network of 'kakis' (friends) to share tips on shopping, exchanging knowledge on the best deals," he said.

For a start, about 3,000 frequently bought grocery items like milk, rice and eggs will be listed on Price Kaki, using price information refreshed daily by FairPrice, Giant, Sheng Siong and Prime Supermarket.

Mr Melvin Yong, chairman of Case's consumer empowerment taskforce, told reporters on the sidelines of the event that the app was conceived as a one-stop resource for in-store prices of daily necessities.

It may eventually extend its reach to include more goods and businesses such as coffee shops, said Mr Yong, who is an MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC. Price Kaki will also incorporate more languages in future.

"What we are providing is transparency, and sharing information that is already out there."

While supermarkets already monitor one another's prices, consumers who wish to compare them "probably have to visit the stores individually", he said.

Case declined to reveal the cost of the app's development.

Participating supermarkets downplayed the effect of the comparisons on pricing strategies, and said the platform will provide added publicity for their promotions. Asked why major supermarket chain Cold Storage is not taking part, a spokesman for parent company Dairy Farm Singapore said it "decided to nominate Giant based on the suitability of (the app's) target audience".

Mr Tan Yongshao, chief executive of Prime Group International, said an initial concern that Prime Supermarket chain had was of a potential "race to the bottom", where the comparisons would create pressure to drive down prices.

But other factors like location, service and brand affiliation are likely to trump minor price fluctuations for shoppers, said Mr Tan.

"I don't think customers will split their (shopping) basket and go to three different places if it is a small variation of 10 cents," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2019, with the headline 'New app to help consumers compare prices'. Print Edition | Subscribe