Help: FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Back to Help

Below are a number of common questions asked about the site. If you can't find the answer in this list, you might want to try Contact Admin or ask in the Forums.

Where Do the Prices Come From?

PriceShare is a community sharing site, so the prices come from the users. Users either contribute specific prices, or they contribute receipts, which get scanned by the administrators.

Obviously the site administrators are very active users, and you'll see a lot of the price data being provided by the admin staff.

Are the Prices Accurate?

Obviously the accuracy of a price depends on how long ago it was entered. For common products like bread, milk, cheese, etc, a price is more likely to be accurate, because users are buying the product and seeing it noted on receipts. For rare products, it's possible that a price might not be updated for a long time.

Next to each price is a weeks icon, such as 10w. This indicates how many weeks old the price is, with the number being rounded up. Roughly speaking, a price that is up to 4 weeks old is probably fine, whereas a price that is older than 16 weeks is probably not reliable, and should only be used as a reference.

Also be careful with specials that have expired. Prices for specials are marked in red.

Where Is Product X?

The process of capturing prices for products is ongoing, so there will be many products that aren't yet in the system. We would appreciate your help in getting a price for the product in one or more stores in your area, and then uploading it via the Add a Product page.

Are There Other Sites Like This?

There are some South African sites that provide prices, but they only do one of two things: provide prices for products that are visible on the web (e.g. books or TVs), or provide lists of specials.

PriceShare is unique in that it stores prices for all supermarket prices, not just specials. Gathering these prices has to be a manual process because the data is not electronically available, and that's why other sites haven't embarked on a venture like this. South Africa has been slow to move into the online shopping space for supermarket products, so this kind of data is not electronically visible, and can't be "scraped" or "scanned" automatically.

Having a data store with prices gives PriceShare a unique advantage, as it opens up a world of opportunity with regards to analysing the data and drawing conclusions. For instance, you can't know if a special offer is good if you don't know what the normal price for the product is.

Why Don't You Get the Prices Straight From the Supermarkets?

Requests for access to price data were sent out to all the major supermarket chains, with very little response. Shoprite confirmed they were not interested, and the others did not respond.

It's easy to understand how PriceShare is a threat to supermarkets, because it enables shoppers to make a saving by shopping around for specific products. What supermarkets often do is to cut prices on one set of products, but raise prices on others, thereby balancing the books. Shoppers using our site are now able to pick prices accordingly and avoid that markup, cutting into the supermarkets' margins.

Another reason supermarkets are hesitant is because they don't want all their price data in the public space for competitors to view. They are currently relying on the slow pace of information transfer, and we're speeding that process up.

Finally, there is an IT cost to providing this data. Systems have to be designed and maintained, and with no obvious reward, supermarkets might not see the value in doing so.

Do Supermarkets Allow You to Capture Prices?

At a small level, price capture is going on all the time. Every good shopper is making a note of prices, some in their heads and others on paper. To prevent that practice would not just be a policing nightmare, it would also contravene the basic understanding that any shopper in your store is allowed to examine your prices, make a choice, and not be forced into a sale - it's just basic good ethics.

When price capture happens on a mass scale, this is obviously a more interesting problem, because it becomes possible that a shopper is not acting in their own personal interests, but possibly in the interests of a competitor. Technically I would assume that with any shop the right of admission is reserved, so a supermarket could kick you out. They will however need to decide if it serves their best interests, and whether a PR disaster might follow.

To be clear, if we find any supermarket treating our users badly, we will name and shame them. We are operating in the interests of honest customers with a limited budget, crafting an honest living and providing for their families. While supermarkets can understandably seek to protect their interests, they must also accept that they risk losing popularity by fighting what we believe is an inevitable next step in the information age. Price comparisons are here to stay, and if supermarkets want to keep up with the pace of technology, they need to innovate, rather than fight the inevitable.

Is PriceShare Affiliated to an Organisation?

No, the site was designed by an independent developer with no links to a supermarket chain. The site does communicate with supermarkets, mainly to try and get access to price data, but this does not compromise the dependence of the site. The site will also display banners paid for by brands or supermarkets displayed on the site, but this is purely to pay for the costs of the site, and will be done in such a way as not to compromise the integrity of the price listings. There is no intention to bump up the listing of a chain or a product in return for payment (e.g. "sponsored listings"), but there might be an option to feature a brand or supermarket in a blog or highlight article.

Is This a Free Service?

There are always costs involved in running a popular website, so there is technically no such thing as free. Facebook is an interesting example, because they pay off the costs of servers, development and admin by showing paid ads.

Right now the plan is to monetise the site through banner ads, and possibly Google ads, so that user access remains free.

One of the main risks with the site is that users simply won't contribute enough to the prices. If this happens, one option is to require that you earn access through your contributions, such as a week of access to features for every number of receipts you contribute. There might be an option to simply pay a small fee to skip this contribution. This is not a first option - let's see how things pan out, and we can discuss these options with users if the need arises.

My feeling is that displaying localised advertising could be very appealing to businesses. For instance, if you type "baked beans" into the search box, an advertising banner would show on the next page relating to one of the brands. This approach is the methodology behind the incredibly successful and popular Google Ads.

Is There a Mobile App?

We don't have a mobile app yet, but you can use the site on your phone by opening up the address in your phone's internet browser. The site has been designed to use a narrow screen width, and while we will continue to improve the site for mobile use (using "responsive design"), most smart phones should handle the site well.

There isn't a great need for an app just yet, but in the future it might be useful to scan a barcode to get prices more easily. We don't have barcodes uploaded yet, so this is purely conceptual.