You’re in a pricey supermarket buying food for a dinner party, are tempted by the wines but wonder, could this $39 Clos du Val 2001 be cheaper elsewhere? You scan the barcode on the back of the bottle with your infrared UPC zapper built into your Blackberry and, presto, several other vendors are displayed with other prices.
This futuristic scenario is where Google is taking us in the world of search according to John Battelle who has a new book out entitled, “The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed our Culture” (Penguin). An extract that appeared in the Weekend Financial Times ( from the UK version, which was longer than the US version. Scroll way down or search “whole foods” to find the wine part).
As ideal as this may sound for wine consumers from a price transparency or gadgets perspective, the technological hurdles that Battelle concedes are pretty high to leap over! Further, retailers, especially those with noncompetitive pricing, would probably be reluctant to include their information in such a search.
And then there’s the fact that since you’re already in the one store, the costs of walking or driving to another store may outweigh the envisioned price savings. If you’re going to an expensive grocery store for the food, I don’t think you need to consult an online database to tell you that you’re not going to get the best price for the wine! But it may be convenient and have a good selection nonetheless.
In my view, the web does offer great potential for price savings. But it is not Google providing this information. Wine Searcher has seized the lead in such a service but it also demonstrates the challenges since retailers have to provide their price data (actually they have to pay to have their price data included and consumers pay to access premium results, which makes for a lucrative business model). But this sort of searching is best done from home, before setting out (if you even need to go out at all and can’t just have it delivered), not from inside the shop.
There are plenty of other things that it would be great to run through a mobil(e) price check, but I’ll save those for my own killer app. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go meet with my venture capitalists….