Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Online grocery shopping abstraction layer

Arbitrage in the cheese aisle
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All the major supermarket chains in the UK have online shopping sites, on which you can order stuff which will be delivered to your door. This idea is for a web-based supermarket website consolidator, which presents (through the magic of website-scraping) all the products available at all the supermarkets. The same items available from multiple supermarkets are presented only once and equivalent items (e.g. two supermarkets' "own brand" tinned tomatoes) are discovered through a look-up table of equivalent products (with weightings for differing qualities offered by different supermarkets) and also presented to you only once.

Once you've finished your shopping basket you can then place your order in a variety of different ways, using your choice of optimisation algorithm. For example, you might care less about all the products being available but want to go for the single order from one supermarket which gives best value for money. Alternatively you might set a high priority on getting everything on the list and not mind placing orders with more than one supermarket.

An additional refinement would be to take into account the relative values of loyalty card points at the various supermarkets.

I bet I end up doing nothing about this idea and someone makes a squillion quid from it next year.
hippo, Sep 12 2007


       Baked for several products other than groceries, so I guess this idea has a limited shelf life before it's baked. [+]
marklar, Sep 12 2007

       Wouldn't there be issues with delivery costs? For instance, all your items apart from a tin of baked beans are delivered by Tesco, but the beans are ordered from Sainsburys. How much would Sainsburys charge for delivery of one tin of beans? Or am I missing something?
jtp, Sep 12 2007

       [jtp] - indeed. Whether you mind about that or not is dealt with by your choice of optimisation algorithm.
hippo, Sep 12 2007

       I'm a corner shop person, so I'm neutral. I hate supermarkets, especially Tesco - the shop that ate Britain. That walnut-brained dweeb who runs it needs to be burnt on top of a large pile of smouldering tampons. I would never, ever shop on line to feed my marmite and sardine habit (items eaten separately)
xenzag, Sep 12 2007

       <Off Topic> It's quite ironic that that street market where Tesco began trading has just recently closed because of business-rape by... Tesco. </OT>
jtp, Sep 13 2007

       Great idea, but it should be very easy and affordable to join as a store. That would mean that 'farmer john' with a lot of potatoes could temporarily undercut all offers with his offer of free delivery within Littletown area... and Jane's Small Shop which claims to value for money can try to prove it.   

       You could have a whole back-end for delivery services. Instead of paying fees to each supermarket for separate deliveries, a third party could do the shopping at all those locations and deliver to you together for less (or even the same as) the total delivery would otherwise be.
vincevincevince, Sep 13 2007

       Good idea [vince^3] - so if the apple tree in your garden is overloaded with ripe, tasty apples, you should be able to market them through this site, with a small, flat delivery charge to local streets. I like that.
hippo, Sep 13 2007

       //'farmer john' with a lot of potatoes//   

       sp: farmerjohn with a lot of clocks
Jinbish, Sep 13 2007

       (*sigh* where is he, anyways?)
k_sra, Sep 13 2007

       Good idea hippo.
can1073, Dec 05 2007

       I'd be inclined to think the sites would end up blocking you - especially if the prices on a particular site compared unfavorably. How does the OGSAL make money, anyway?   

       Grocery prices tend to vary by location in the U.S. Since I don't know of a single U.S. grocery chain that publishes grocery prices, I suppose it's moot here.
phoenix, Dec 05 2007


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