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Grocery basket

When it comes to buying groceries, it pays to shop around. But if you order online, you could get stuck paying too high a price. What if there was an online grocery delivery service that could do the comparison shopping for you?

That’s what one new international grocery app is doing – and if it succeeds, the idea just might go global.

“Groon” (short for “Grocery Online”) is based in Dubai, and pitches itself as a one-stop shopping and grocery delivery app. And it wants to make buying groceries online like buying airline tickets online – where you can compare prices of individual items from multiple sellers, before you purchase.

“The customer will have the option to choose to order from more than one grocery at the time of checkout, based on the price and convenience,” Groon co-founder Sajida Yousuf said in a statement.

Ordering groceries online is a growing, but still relatively new and niche, concept. Here in the U.S., it’s largely retailer-centric – you choose to shop with a particular retailer, and you end up paying the prices that store charges. If you want to shop around for better prices, you have to place multiple orders from multiple retailers – and you may cancel out any savings, by paying multiple delivery charges.

But Groon has plans to work with thousands of grocery retailers across the country – everyone from large chain grocers to local independent and convenience stores. And as you add items to your online cart, you can sort them the way you do when you go online to buy an airline ticket – seeing the best offers from multiple providers, and being able to prioritize them by different attributes like price or estimated arrival time, if you need your items in a hurry. The app will tell you if eggs are on sale at one store, and milk on sale at another. And you won’t have to choose which store to buy from – you can do your shopping at both, and get all the best prices, all within the same app.

“This is the first time that an app will provide Cart Comparison to its users,” Yousuf said.

This concept might work in a relatively compact city like Dubai, where Groon shoppers can find all the best deals from multiple stores. But could it work in the much more spread-out United States?

Instacart comes the closest. The personal grocery shopping service is available in just about two dozen cities, so it’s not nationwide. But it is one of the few that’s not affiliated with one specific store. So Instacart gives you the ability to place a single grocery order, consisting of items from multiple stores that it serves. But it’s up to you to sniff out the deals for yourself.

Groon’s selling point is that it finds the best deals for you. If all of the items are coming straight to your door anyway, it doesn’t much matter what store they came from – as long as the price is right.

Price is often named as a factor as to why online grocery delivery hasn’t quite taken off just yet. But prices are coming down – many grocery delivery services that once charged a premium, now charge the same price for individual items whether you buy them in store or online. Several delivery services are also introducing new ways to allow you to apply coupons to your purchases, to help you save even more.

And if they all start getting on board with price comparisons, all the better. Online grocery shopping, after all, is all about convenience. And if a delivery service can bring groceries to your home, and save you money in the process – that may be about as convenient as it gets.

Photo by stephenyeargin

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