Supermarket price comparisons are one of the thorniest problems for major chains—and in recent years in the U.K., one of the biggest lawsuit magnets. But U.K. grocery chain Waitrose may have found a way to avoid problems with how accurate its price-comparisons are with Tesco, its biggest rival, Progressive Grocer reported on Wednesday (May 29).
That solution: Hire the same outside company that does Tesco's price comparisons—specifically, an Irish startup called Profitero.
Waitrose, a 291-store chain that's the sixth-largest U.K. grocer, has been doing its price comparisons in-house for an ongoing promotion in which it promises to price-match any products bought at Tesco. But prices can vary widely within a chain across the U.K. The problem is complicated when stores clear out products and prices are deeply cut—and in the U.K., that can mean a past-its-shelf-life can or box can go for as little as a penny.
That makes the idea of outsourcing the price-comparison data collection to a third party doubly attractive. Yes, it unloads the cost of constantly finding price changes. More important, it cuts out any argument about the appropriate price to be compared. A third party can filter out the closeouts and also serves as an impartial arbiter of how to compare store-brand merchandise when package sizes differ—and when comparisons can't be made at all because of quality differences.
And actually going with Tesco's own price-data supplier gives Waitrose another level of credibility (or at least plausible deniability), since presumably if Tesco trusts Profitero to provide it with competitors' prices, it won't challenge what Profitero claims are Tesco's own prices.
- See this Progressive Grocer story
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