About PriceZombie

 

The People

PriceZombie was created by Peter Arremann and Jason Hamilton, two experienced software developers.

 

Peter Arremann's expertise lies in determining requirements, designing, and then building custom database systems for major corporations. In addition, he has several years of system administration background.

 

Jason Hamilton is an award winning, innovative software developer who specializes in automated programs, project management systems, and integrated search engines.

 

The two met ten years ago when they worked together at a Fortune 50 company. They became friends and quickly found that amongst other interests, they shared a common shopping philosophy: Peter and Jason aren't impulse buyers. Claims of “SALE!” do not sway them. Instead, they would often discuss their latest planned acquisition, research the best options, and hunt down the best price. Routinely, they visited dozens of online retailers, utilized general search engines, sifted through the various comparison shopping sites and price tracking sites, and in the process learned a lot about dynamic pricing and other tricks of the retail trade designed to get them to part with more money than necessary.

The Idea

When you present two problem solvers with a problem, it won't take long before they start coming up with solutions. In order to determine not just today's best price, but the best possible price, comparison shopping had to be combined with price tracking, and it could not be limited to a handful of affiliate stores. PriceZombie is all about competition and choice.

 

Turning that seemingly simple idea into reality, however, turned out to be one of the most complex tasks either of them had ever attempted.

The Plan

From the very beginning, in early 2012, PriceZombie was designed to handle massive amounts of data from a vast number of stores. Once Peter and Jason had some basic code working and tested, they knew they were on their way to delivering a shopping aid that was much better than anything available.

 

PriceZombie LLC was incorporated in 2013. Servers were purchased, bandwidth obtained, a website created, the basic code installed and hundreds of crawlers launched to gather data.

 

It was just beginning.

The Reality

After months of tracking the prices of millions of items, it was time to test. As a long time Redditor, Jason created and launched an automated service called the “PriceZombie bot” on Reddit.com in February 2014.

 

The PriceZombie bot watches member-posted urls and responds if that url matches an item in its database. Redditors have been overwhelmingly positive. Before the bot was even two months old, it had been awarded over 10,000 karma and was featured in Kim LaCapria's article naming seven of her favorite Reddit bots on Social News Daily

 

Recently launched Chrome and Firefox extensions complement the PriceZombie website. These extensions are designed to be an effective resource shoppers can tap into while browsing online retailers. When PriceZombie recognizes a url as a product in its database, a small icon will appear in or near the browser url bar. Clicking it displays the price history from that retailer along with alternate buying choices, if available, and a button to add the item to the PriceZombie watch list.

 

The way the watch list works is another feature unique to PriceZombie. Shoppers can add any item found on the PriceZombie website or through the browser extensions to their watch list, at a specific price point, and receive notification when the item drops to the desired price. Complete Amazon wish list can be imported to PriceZombie. While this feature has previously been available at other shopping sites, what sets PriceZombie's watch list apart is its ability to stay sync'd up with Amazon wish lists. When a shopper selects to keep their Amazon Wish List sync'd up with PriceZombie, all items added to Amazon will automatically be added to PriceZombie as well, and when the item drops in price - in Amazon, or their third party sellers, or any of the stores supported by PriceZombie – the shopper will be notified.

 

PriceZombie's Price Protection Feature helps shoppers receive refunds after their purchase. Many credit cards offer price protection, but refunds are not automatic. Shoppers must provide the company with proof of purchase and proof of the lower price in order to get a refund. Add the purchase to PriceZombie's Price Protection Feature and PriceZombie will send a notification when the price drops enough to qualify for price protection, AND provide a high resolution time and datestamped screenshot of that item at the lower price as evidence needed for a refund.

Obstacles Overcome

It soon became obvious why no one had launched a project of the size and scope of PriceZombie . Aside from the knowledge needed, and investment of time and money, there were many technical impediments. While PriceZombie's systems have been designed to grow and seamlessly handle vast amounts of data, not every retailer is willing to provide the data needed. Many others place limits on the amount of data collected since they do not want their inventory and prices compared to their competitors.

 

Even if a retailer is cooperative, there are no standard product pricing or category conventions for online stores. Retailers set up internal systems that work for them and frequently make changes that can cause issue with automatically processing their data. Sometimes the way the retailer presents their data just doesn't lend itself to accurate collection. In many cases, PriceZombie's code must be modified and tested for accuracy with each new retailer added, and from then on constant tweaked to maintain the quality of the results.

The Future

While PriceZombie is now a very capable product, it is still being enhanced and new features are added on a weekly basis. More stores and support for the Safari and Internet Explorer browsers are also on the roadmap.

 

We are confident that the support of those who find PriceZombie a helpful shopping resource will bring us closer to our goals.