Archive for March, 2015

YourFork Review – what price convenience?

March 1, 2015 Leave a comment

I recently stumbled across YourFork, an online grocery shopping service that has launched in selected areas of metropolitan Sydney, such as the Inner West and Eastern Suburbs.

The choice of areas are no surprise – they’re very small areas geographically, and the residents of multimillion-dollar houses and units are more likely to pay a premium for convenience and time-saving, whilst still being true to their middle-class roots of shopping in Coles or Woolies’, rather than, say, David Jones.

So – before using the service, I thought I’d pick a few items at random from a recent in-store shop at Coles, and compare the prices to both YourFork, and Coles Online. While I was at it, I compared to Woolworths’ Online as well.

2015-03-01 23_18_47-Coles Compariosn.xlsx - Excel

The first thing to note, is this is an atypical shop – it was actually a catch-up shop for things we missed in a big shop the previous week, so there were a lot of household items rather than foods. I filtered most of those out to try to stick to a more representative balance – fruit, veg, etc, and of more common and popular items, such as leaving in milk, and leaving out D-cell batteries.

In addition, some considerations which likely DO bias the results:

  • I selected a subset in the interests of time – fewer than 20 items in total
  • I typically shop for non-budget items at the cheapest price-per-weight – using the $/100g value in small print on the shelf label. As a result, the items I bought in-store will be strongly biased towards the cheapest brand, or special offer. I’ll also buy in-season fruit or veg to save money, although this effect should be similar for all shopping channels.
  • To offset the ‘cheapest item’ bias, if the price on the other channels was too outlandish, I looked for an alternative product and listed that underneath, then tried to find the price for that in the other channels
  • However, I did not go to the other channels and ‘shop as I would normally’, looking for the specials and cheapest brands
  • If I couldn’t find that precise product in the other channels, I left that cell blank
  • Most descriptions (horrible as they are) are copy/pasted directly from the scan of the in-store receipt

The fact is, it’s very hard to objectively compare shopping cost efficiency in each channel, as your product choice will differ second-by-second, product-by-product, based on special offers, price per quantity, etc. Hence it’s hard to definitively say how you will get ‘a decent shop for the best price’, which is what our objective is.

However, based on the table above, I did come to some conclusions:

  • In-store was the cheapest, full stop
  • Coles Online charges a premium on some products, compared to in-store; we’ve noticed this before. Quantitatively, it seems to be a fixed 10% on certain products which are not very noticeable. $2 for 2L milk is a marketing headline, so they won’t charge $2.20 online, but Noodie Orange Juice and Whiskas cat food did have a 10% premium
  • YourFork seemed to charge around 15-21% more than in-store on mainstream products – branded foods. Certainly, nothing was cheaper – even the own-brand Coles milk was 10% more expensive. Perhaps consumers would perceive from well-known prices such as milk that the mark-up was 10% across the board, but it seems to be more like 15-20%.
  • YourFork does not pass on special offers – if your shopping style is more guided by specials, then you will lose those savings here.  My Coles in-store receipt showed $33.97 savings to give a bill of $180.32, or around 15%. That included a few deliberate specials, such as three boxes of half-price laundry powder (not on the comparison).
  • Some items were vastly more expensive on YourFork because of the lack of specials: Yoplait yoghurt sachets were $5 for 5, but YourFork had them at $1.79 each.  We’re virtual subscribers to the long-running $7 for 5 Whiskas deal, now even better at $1 each, but at YourFork you’ll pay $2.11 a can.
  • There was a weird one: Perino Tomatoes at $20.70 a punnet on YourFork, six times the Coles price! I assume this was a typo or system error. You wouldn’t have bought those.
  • Woolworths’ prices were also always higher than Coles, and likely fairly so, because of two reasons. The first was the specials’ selection bias – the brand I selected will be on special at Coles and full price at Woolies, while if I had been shopping in Woolies I would have bought the brand they had on offer, which would have been priced much higher at Coles. The second was that I was checking Woolies online shopping prices, which are probably higher than instore, as Coles’ are.
  • Since there are so many inherent biases and a small sample size, I have not given a total price comparison

In Summary

YourFork is the ‘on the bus home’ or ‘one last thing’ online shop. You need some things for tonight, you really can’t be bothered to stop off / go out for them, and for the price of $5 + 20% (ish), you don’t need to; they’ll be at your house in under an hour. You’ll use it like Menulog, but for groceries rather than a take-away.

And for that, all credit to them. There’s a definite gap in the market, for how much time do you waste(?!), door-to-door, in going out to buy those few things, driving, parking, paying for parking, queuing at checkout. I would suggest quantifying that, and deciding at what point it makes sense (and at what price it doesn’t).

On the flip side, we baulk at the price of groceries, and want to leverage every special offer we can – so voluntarily foregoing 15% of savings, and then paying 15% on top of the full prices, is a rough pill to swallow. Also, note there are no flybuys here, that token 0.5% of extra value; do the shoppers get to keep them as part-payment, perhaps?

So, despite my suggestion of ‘deciding the inflection point for you’, I think I would waver each time.  I’ll only get the few essentials… but then the $5 fee is too disproportionate.  OK, I’ll get some more things… now I’m spending too much.  Note that I haven’t actually used YourFork yet; just assessed the prices. (I use the term ‘review’ so Google will bring you here – you searched for ‘review’, but this was what you were looking for, right?)

In fact, what ‘reviewing’ YourFork has revealed to me, is the sorry state of the supermarket online stores. I left the UK four years ago, but well before I did, I could go on my brand new iPhone 3GS of the time, run up a quick shopping list in my Tesco app, and schedule it to be delivered the next day. Whilst the Coles and Woolies apps have a mix of features such as big photos, repeat shops, etc., I found the Coles web app to fail with my searches half the time(!), and take several seconds when it did work. This is on top of the 10% mark-ups PLUS $11 delivery PLUS no ability to deliver the next day. The inability to order shopping from within the native iPhone apps, something Tesco’s were doing six years ago, also frustrates me.

In contrast, YourFork has lightning-fast search and select – really instantaneous, possibly locally-cached – and I could see someone doing a decent shop and have it on the way within three to four minutes.

The major online grocery retailers’ UX feels more like booking an international flight online, than buying some food – a deluge of options, specials, marketing banners, and options.

YourFork’s UX is Uber for your groceries, as opposed to Coles’ and Woolworth’s Jetstar-like experience.

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