Online retailers constantly changing online prices

(WXYZ) - It used to be only hotels and airlines changed their prices several times a day. But we found online retailers who sell common household items are also making adjustments throughout the day, especially for appliances and electronics.

Stores competing for your business are duking it out online.

The goal is to have a product priced so it pops up as the lowest priced item in shopping search engines, or Amazon's coveted "buy box." That's where most consumers look to find the best deals.

"It's more a battle of getting the right screen position as opposed to trying to sell it as quickly as possible," says Chris Buckingham of the Professional Pricing Society.

We worked with decide.com to monitor prices of several items on a well-known shopping website.

First, an ipad. At midnight the ipad was $511. At 6am it was $503. By 7am the price sunk to $475, where it remained until 2:30pm and then jumped to $510. At 10pm, the ipad increased to a high of $529. That's a total of a $54 price difference, on the same site, all in one 24-hour period.

"The suppliers are constantly monitoring each other," says Buckingham.

Decide.com's tracking software found the price of colored pencils ranged from a high of $3.32 to $2.22 over a 24-hour period.

Duct tape: in one day the price ranged from a high of $7.83 to a low of $2.00

"What has changed fundamentally in the past 12 months is the speed and scale at which prices are being set," says Eric Best of Mercent, a software company.

Some retailers hire software companies, such as Mercent, to monitor the prices of its products and make changes based on its competitors.

There are websites which will monitor prices for items you want and alert you when the price drops, or reaches an amount you'd be willing to pay.

If you add an item to your Amazon shopping cart and leave it there, Amazon will notify you of price changes.

Beware of clicking on the least expensive deal found on a search engine, they may not be the best price after shipping.

What product's prices fluctuate the most?  Decide.com says: electronics, appliances, clothing, shoes, jewelry and even household staples.

Some experts suggest if you ordered something from a retailer and the price dropped within a reasonable amount of time, contact the business and see if they'll refund you the difference.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments