Have you ever encountered a website that seemingly changes their product prices a couple of times throughout the week? That’s not necessarily a manual action. Not everybody does it, but some eCommerce companies make use of something called “dynamic pricing.”
What is dynamic pricing?
Dynamic pricing is a sales strategy for merchants or service providers to change the price of an item or service based on a temporary demand. This is old hat for some industries like hotels increasing their prices during a fair in the city, but it can go further.
With the data about individual users that are collected via cookies in the browser, web shops are better able to understand who you are and what you might be interested in and can, therefore, experiment with a changing price only visible to you and nobody else.
If the merchant website uses an account system, the analysis of the buyer can go even further, as cookie-based data might die after a while and a user account can collect information for a longer period.
How to become a “high interest” customer
If you’re into a certain product but don’t have the money for it lying around, you might happen to frequently visit the product’s website, again and again, to check for its specs or check the images of it. A dynamic pricing system could now identify you as a customer with a high interest in a particular product or type of products.
With such a “flag” associated with your user session, it can happen that the price for you is higher than the price other would get displayed on the same product site only because you are a high-interest customer and very likely to buy the product even if it’s more expensive.
How to prevent paying more for a dynamic price?
If you’ve been identified to be a high-interest customer or a premium buyer (willing to pay a lot) by a dynamic pricing system, it could cost you a lot of money. Now, what could you do to get rid of such a status and get back to the regular price?
- Clear your browser’s cookies before making a purchase
- Use the incognito mode of your browser to use cookie-free session
- Use the account of a friend or family member
- Create a new account without browsing history
If you pretend that you’re a new user in a way like this, there’s a good chance that you can get the pricing like everybody else.
Have you ever paid more than you should on a website because of dynamic pricing and profiling algorithms? I’d love to know your story. Make sure you share it below in the comments!
YouTube: Insights on Amazon’s Dynamic Pricing (Mabel McLean)
Photo credit: Willy Au-Yeung / Stephen Yang
Source: Arnoud Kuiper (eCommerce Wiki) / Aaron Liu (Digital Trends) / Matt Klein (How to Geek)