App takes social media approach to grocery shopping

By ALYSSA MARTINEZ, staff reporter

The newly released social platform Flyerbug allows for not only avoiding unpleasant surprises like high food prices, but also allows users to find sales that don’t make it into the paper.

“Not all items that are on sale make it into a flyer, otherwise it would look more like a magazine,” said Raul Sukraj, founder of Flyerbug, who has his fair share of experience with grocery store advertising himself.

He co-founded Captive Channels, a grocery advertising agency that uses LCD screens to advertise sales and pricing. Flyerbug takes aim at uncovering sales and lower prices and making it available to the consumer.

“Consumers needed a channel,” Sukraj said. “A better platform that could take the sales out of the stores and into consumer’s hands.” Through comparative shopping, this new app has the potential to save shoppers both time and money.

One feature of the app is its social media touch. Much like Twitter and Facebook, users can “add” a retailer to their list simply by punching in a zip code, and through their “watch list” receive updates on the sales going on in local grocery stores.

Alerts are also sent to the user when a specific product’s price is reported.

“Instead of following friends, you’re following products,” Sukraj said.

The social media approach is appealing to many people, especially students.

“I use my phone for absolutely everything,” said Cindy Guerrero, junior law and justice major. “I have an app for just about everything, and for someone to make the sometimes stressful grocery shopping experience a social one, now that sounds like fun.”

For some people, the difference of a dollar or two in price, or even just a few cents, isn’t enough incentive to take the time to shop at different stores around town. But for others, it can make all the difference, especially as a college student living on a budget.

“Sometimes it can come down to even the dollar,” Guerrero said. “When I am going to be in school living away from my parents, and will be having to account for rent, utilities, books, tuition, clothes and then food on top of that, well a dollar or two saved a week even can mean a lot at the end of a hard month.”

Guerrero likes the idea of knowing where to shop in order to get the best deals.

“I want to know where I should be spending my money and how to do it efficiently,” Guerrero said. “And with a busy schedule like mine, coupon clipping and ad reading just doesn’t happen.”

Flyerbug’s socially driven platform is going to find the best prices in a smooth and seamless way right from your mobile device.

“The idea is, every week, with a click of a button, you can say ‘Hey, tell me between Safeway and Albertsons where I should split my wallet,’” Sukraj said.

Even though Ellensburg no longer has an Albertsons, Super One Foods and Safeway are two of the grocery chains that can be found on the app, and more can be added by users.

Many students spend the time and gas needed to drive around just to find the best bargains.

“I’ve done it before, the whole driving around town first to Safeway then to Super One and finally Fred Meyer in search of those good deals,” said Felipe Avalos, senior theater design technology major.

But as Avalos is making an attempt to eat more fresh produce, and less canned and frozen items, he said finding those low prices can present a challenge.

“Having it [Flyerbug] in the palm of your hand or in your lap is the definition of convenience,” Avalos said. “I would definitely use this app.”

While making prices more accessible to consumers will drive business to stores, the platform creators have had difficulty in getting information about prices.

“They (grocery stores) don’t want to share their prices and make them available to competitors,” Sukraj said. The creators of Flyerbug are trying to work with local stores to make their baseline prices available for the app.

The app also has a few surprises coming in the near future, including a “receipt reader” and “merchant services” that are going to enhance the Flyerbug experience, and take grocery shopping to a new level.

The app is now available for free download on your mobile device, or by visiting Flyerbug.com.