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12 Dec

Variable PricingIn this age of financial uncertainty and unprecedented consumer price-consciousness, many retailers have begun to offer their products and services at different price points depending on number of factors in a practice known as variable pricing. This is a strategy that is familiar to most consumers in some form, whether it’s as an off-season vacation or a matinee show at the theatre. But thanks to the rise of online shopping, the variable pricing model will soon be commonplace for much of what we buy – and whether you love it or hate it, it’s going to change the retail game once again.

For consumers, of course, it can be a real benefit to those willing to put in the time to hunt for the best deal - and most would agree, the possibility of saving several hundred pounds on big-ticket purchases like electronics and home appliances makes it worth it. Price point and value have never been more important as sales drivers, and consumers have begun to regularly model their buying habits around these considerations. 

For retailers, however, this dramatically highlights the fluid nature of pricing in the online marketplace. Pioneered by websites like Amazon, these rapid shifts in price create a sort of ‘ripple effect’, as various competing retailers monitor price changes and then slightly undercut the competition. When this is combined with rise of a customer base savvy and dedicated enough to search out competitors offering slightly better deals, it becomes clearly vital for all online retailers to have a robust competitor monitoring solution for tracking pricing strategies across their industry, or they risk being left behind.  

As if consumer dedication to value wasn’t enough to drive the adoption of careful price monitoring, the rise of websites like Decide.com has further empowered consumers’ bargain-hunting abilities. By tracking a wide variety of products offered by a range of online retailers over several days, Decide offers price-point intelligence and analysis in a handy package, from daily price fluctuations to projected upcoming price drops. They are so confident in the quality of their projections and analysis, they even offer a price guarantee – and they’ll pay consumers the difference if the price drops further than they project. 

While the future economic outlook and consumer confidence remain shaky at best, expect to see the adoption of the variable pricing model become extremely widespread. As consumers become even more adept at bargain-hunting, and as websites like Decide expand their product coverage, it may not be unusual to see the impact of variable pricing on commonplace purchases such as socks and dish detergent. For retailers who have managed to keep pace by utilising a competitor price monitoring solution, they can expect to see the impact in a boost to their bottom line.
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