October 26, 2012

Online retailers experiment with varied, personalized pricing

Personalization is permeating ecommerce in areas such as product recommendations and customer service. Now personalized pricing is the latest fertile area of focus for multichannel retailers, according to a new eMarketer report, “Multichannel Pricing Strategy.”

Retailers are looking to optimize what they charge based on shifting consumer demand and competitor moves. A recent RetailWire survey suggests that offering different prices across channels will become commonplace.

Although some consumers still want to see consistent multichannel pricing, the protracted economic slump has created legions of price-sensitive consumers whose purchase decisions are deeply influenced by price. The importance of price is evident from a March 2012 NPD Group survey. It showed that price and sales and special deals were by far the primary influences in deciding where online consumers shopped.

Price-conscious consumers know that they are more likely to find those special deals online than in stores. Deal-hunting online and comparison smartphone shopping have opened consumers’ eyes. It has made them less naive about price fluctuations and pricing differences across a retailer’s channels. Digital consumers are also smart enough to know that shopping channels offer different levels of service, and this will be reflected in price variations. And consumers have a growing arsenal of powerful digital tools to help them find where to get the best price for a particular product and determine when the best time is to buy it, whether online or in-store.

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