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Woolworths, Coles shoppers can now see who has the best deals with new app: 'Great idea'

You could save hundreds of dollars a year by comparing prices between the two supermarkets.

Two “working-class” Australians have turned a weekly spreadsheet they used to see if Coles or Woolworths was cheaper into an app so struggling families can also find “buried” deals.

With people battling the cost-of-living crisis, many will jump at the chance to save a few dollars here and there. But, unless you’re shopping at both supermarkets on the same day, it’s hard to know which one has the more affordable option for the items you’re buying.

The creators behind UpUp, Trevor Lu and Laurent Tu, have told Yahoo Finance their app aims to combat this problem.

Woolworths and Coles supermarket stores with screenshot of UpUp app
The UpUp app allows you to compare the prices of Woolworths and Coles to see which supermarket is cheaper. (Source: Getty/UpUp)

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“Laurent and I both come from working-class families where being mindful of our spending was ingrained in our attitudes towards money from childhood,” Trevor said. “I was also swept up in the tech industry layoffs last year and was cutting back on major expenses – I literally had a spreadsheet comparing the prices of items in the same shopping basket from Coles and Woolies.

“After seeing how much I was saving, we realised we could turn this into something that could have a meaningful impact for so many families who are struggling through this cost-of-living crisis.”

Laurent added: “We often hear about a few big weekly half-price specials but there are actually so many more great deals that are buried in catalogues or only promoted on shelves.

“The problem is people don’t have time to create a spreadsheet like this every week. Our idea was to use software and AI to do this for them, removing the painful parts of the process and unlocking savings for people on a weekly basis.”

The duo soft-launched the app on social media earlier this year and were blown away by the response. Hundreds of shoppers were thrilled with the idea and many offered their opinions on how to make it as good as possible.

How the Woolworths vs Coles app works

When using UpUp, people can input their items into the app and it will reveal how much it will cost if you do the whole shop at Woolworths or Coles. There’s a third option, which is the cheapest one. It will show how much it will set you back if you visit both supermarkets and pick selected items.

Shoppers can input their favourite products and the app will alert them if it becomes discounted. There’s also a specials tab where people can see what else has been reduced.

“We’re finding that just knowing which supermarket to shop can easily save users $5-$10 on a weekly basket,” Laurent told Yahoo Finance.

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“And if you’re optimising for the best of both worlds, it’s upwards of $10-15. Over the course of a year, that adds up to hundreds of dollars – over $1,000 for big families – and, for the people who are doing it toughest, that’s just as much as the new stage three tax cuts.”

The pair check the prices - based on the Sydney metro area - once a week to make sure all the data is up to date. They plan to add state-specific information soon.

Trevor said the launch of their app came at a time when the two biggest supermarkets had been accused of price gouging customers and suppliers and could put even more pressure on Coles and Woolworths to be transparent.

Screenshot of the UpUp app comparing Woolworths and Coles prices
Woolworths and Coles shoppers can see on the UpUp app exactly how much their favourite items cost at each supermarket. (Source: UpUp)

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“The supermarkets are walking a tightrope right now, balancing a lot of public criticism with their obligations to shareholders,” he told Yahoo Finance.

“At the end of the day, those pressures will have the most significant impact on them. Our goal is just to help people find the best deals that are already out there; even if prices drop in aggregate across the sector, there will still be savings to be made and we’ll be there to help our users find them.”

Trevor and Laurent said they were continuing to tinker with the app, based on customer feedback, to make the user experience as good as possible. It’s available to download now on the App Store and Google Play Store.