BetterCart Analytics is innovating for competitiveness on every level to help improve the lives of Canadians. Their centralized pricing data and competitive intelligence platform allows food industry companies to make data-driven decisions to achieve peak performance and profitability and helps consumers’ dollars go even further.
For Canadian Innovation Week’s theme #InnovateForCompetitiveness and Women Entrepreneur Week (congrats to Melanie for winning the 2023 WESK Innovation Award!), we spoke with BetterCart Analytics Founder and CEO Melanie Morrison about the evolution of the company, how they’re innovating to address economic instability and opportunity to improve the lives of Canadians and more.
BetterCart Analytics has evolved significantly since its inception as a consumer-focused price comparison grocery site in 2019. Can you tell us about how BetterCart Analytics has grown?
I often get asked how BetterCart – as the company was known in its earlier days — got started and how we transitioned from a consumer-focused price comparison grocery site to a business-to-business (B2B) price analytics and competitive intelligence SaaS-based company.
When we started, I was very concerned about people’s ability to acquire pricing data and the lack of transparency that existed around pricing. I was concerned about the discrepancies in price points across retailers and given my circumstances, as a single parent of three small children, I knew there must be a way to help Canadians — myself included — obtain the pricing information they need to make data-driven purchasing decisions.
Focused on the needs of consumers, I started assembling my team and building a data store of online pricing for grocery retail products across Canada. Two years ago, I transitioned my team from a consumer-facing only competitive pricing platform to a B2B price analytics and competitive intelligence platform that now serves companies such as food and beverage processors, CPG manufacturers and independent grocers as well as industry associations and consulting firms.
What sets BetterCart Analytics apart from its competitors?
We have over 5 billion product records in our data lake and import 38 million new product records weekly from over 3,600 individual stores and 25 retail chains. BetterCart Analytics also has one of the largest historical pricing records for grocery products available and we are very proud of that.
Furthermore, we have five live business use cases that are simple and easy for our customers to use and navigate and result from our work with natural language processing and image recognition, and our stitching together of millions and millions of product records and attributes using machine learning and AI.
Right now, we are targeting a highly unique customer segment in comparison to other companies and are creating access to pricing data and competitive intelligence in an industry that remains the least digitized retail segment on the planet.
BetterCart Analytics is doing a lot of innovative work around price transparency and demystifying the product chain at every level in the food industry. Why is it important to expand the focus of BetterCart Analytics’ mission and have this holistic view?
Importantly, what we have learned is that all food sector stakeholder groups require insight about food pricing and that this spans from land to label.
We have had the privilege of working with ranchers, newly emerging food companies and established ones that generate billions of dollars per annum. We know that it doesn’t really matter where you are in the food supply chain, everyone needs access to information, pricing data and price histories.
Canada’s food producers, manufacturers, and smaller retail companies have gone on long enough without price analytics and competitive intelligence and it is time to start course-correcting for Canada, especially now, when there is so much economic uncertainty.
BetterCart Analytics’ approach to addressing consumer-focused and industry-wide issues in the food sector fits strongly with Canadian Innovation Week’s theme #InnovationforCompetitiveness. How do you think BetterCart Analytics is addressing economic instability through innovative technology to improve the lives of Canadians?
BetterCart Analytics will always be a people-focused, person-centred company that holds social justice and making a social impact in the highest regard. I am pleased to say that our work with consumers has helped make hard-earned dollars go just that much further and supported the purchasing of more food for families.
I also look at our transition to the B2B side as an extension of our company values: again, helping those that go without — data, in this case — and our effort to supply data, create knowledge and provide opportunity to those who have traditionally only been able to compete on certain dimensions, now compete at a higher-level, and move into different categories, produce different products, and win with the same or different brands.
BetterCart Analytics can help companies transition from a manual process to a digitized, automated, AI-driven one and that, alone, is a recipe for any company’s preservation and longevity.
BetterCart Analytics has participated in many startup and pitch competitions like Co.Labs’ Co.Launch and just recently made Startup TNT Investment Summit VII’s Top 20. Why are competitions like this important to the innovation ecosystem and how do they help your company grow?
It is great to participate in these programs and certainly helps improve my company and abilities as a founder. I benefit from speaking with experts all the time and really lean-in to what they say so I can identify the right paths for BetterCart Analytics.
I also appreciate being involved with the technology ecosystem because of the sharing of experience and the kindnesses that are so freely given here in Saskatchewan and the innovation ecosystem more broadly.
Personally, I have never experienced such incredible mentorship and will be eternally grateful for everyone that has been a part of my journey and my team’s.
BetterCart Analytics recently received funding from Innovation Saskatchewan’s MIST program to expand its pricing intelligence platform. Can you tell us more on how you plan to use the funding?
We were very fortunate to have participated in Innovation Saskatchewan's MIST program and to have aligned our company product, the BetterCart Analytics platform, with a Crown Corporation’s technology and innovation needs. Our experience with the MIST program led to the building of excellent relationships with many people at different corporate levels, a strong strategic partnership, and a beautiful three-year deal.
We were able to use the funds to support the extension of the BetterCart Analytics platform and, importantly, our innovation provided us with the opportunity to learn how we could present our data to better meet our customers’ needs. We are about half-way through year one and are incredibly proud to be a part of this partnership.
What most excites you about BetterCart Analytics’ future?
I am incredibly excited about the interest in Food Tech and all of the innovation that is being supported by food industry stakeholders.
After building leading-edge AI-based technology for the last two years, I feel that BetterCart Analytics is ready for a fascinating next phase of growth. I am also very excited to be building a company that is disruptive and brings value to our customers by challenging the status quo.
We have a very strong pipeline because the need for BetterCart Analytics in the grocery industry is so great; and our goal is to raise our first round of capital and onboard these customers as quickly as possible.
It’s been a pleasure speaking with you! Anything else we should know about BetterCart Analytics?
BetterCart Analytics is coming off a win from the Canadian Food Innovation Network as one of the top five Canadian companies to watch in Food Tech.
As the only woman-led company to win and the only company representing western Canada, I’m looking forward to leading BetterCart Analytics to become the next Saskatchewan-based tech juggernaut.