New site looks past digitizing flyers

SaleWhale enables users to search for specific items and find them on sale at various retailers, as well as create sale alerts.
SW screenshot

A new site is enabling consumers to forgo flyer-scouring in favour of a targeted product search to find where items are on sale in their area.

While digitized flyers in pdf format are widely available online, says co-founder Chris Emergui, Montreal-based SaleWhale.ca is the only one in Canada he knows of that allows users to search for a specific product in both national languages.

SaleWhale brings together flyers from 6,500 stores (and growing) across Canada and users can create a regular shopping list and alerts on particular items. They receive weekly updates about when those items are on sale and can add them to a current sales list.

About 45% of the site’s 21,000-member database has created alerts, says Emergui, and the site, which soft-launched at the end of November, aims to grow to between 500,000 and one million users within a year.

“Once we have the audience that we expect to get from a critical mass standpoint, we feel like we’ll be able to move the needle in a lot of different ways,” he says.

Emergui could not reveal which companies SaleWhale is working with at this stage, but says it has been conversing with large CPG brands and is beginning to talk to retailers.

SaleWhale features recipes on its website, which it aims to have sponsored by brands in the future. Citing a recipe featured, which included Philadelphia Cream Cheese, he says 20% of members viewed the recipe, while 10 % searched for where the product was on sale. Although this occurred when the site only had 5,000 members, he says these figures could become significant when the site has scale.

Additionally, SaleWhale is working on linking products and ingredients from recipes on brands’ websites to show users where those items are on sale. It can also recommend products to its users based on what they have added to their baskets.

Aside from brand integration around recipes on other sites, SaleWhale’s revenue model includes selling data, as well as standard banner units and sponsoring recipes, alerts and featured lists.

From a retailer perspective, Emergui says SaleWhale is measuring how effective it is to direct users who are looking at a flyer to things such as the retailer’s loyalty program or coupons.

SaleWhale is planning a significant marketing push in the next 45 days to comprise millions of banners each month, sponsorships around newsletters and promotions such as coupons. It is also starting to promote itself through its sister company’s properties websaver.ca and divine.ca, he adds.

Canada is the first launch country for SaleWhale, but it is exploring other markets such as the U.K. and U.S.

SaleWhale is currently accessible through a mobile, tablet or desktop platform, and Emergui says users can look forward to an app in the future.