Don’t Get Fooled By Dynamic Pricing

I’m sure this has happened to you before.


You go online to buy new shoes to replace your old ones. You checked out prices a week before so you could budget your purchases, and saw a pair you liked at $30 and added it to your cart. Three days ago, the prices jumped to $37. Today, the pair of shoes is at $27. It’s pretty much the same pair of shoes from the same retailer, so what’s going on?


What Happened?


You just saw an example of dynamic pricing. Another good example of this selling strategy is airline tickets. Have you noticed when buying plane tickets that ticket prices fluctuate a lot based on supply and demand and competitor pricing? If you’ve ever let your plane ticket purchase expire in your shopping cart, that same flight could cost later as seats fill up.


Over time, the public has accepted dynamic pricing in the travel and entertainment industry, but the past few years have seen it applied to retail as well. Nowadays, prices can go up or down just by consumers browsing away on shopping sites.


A study by the Northeastern University in Boston found that several shopping websites were manipulating prices based on their customer’s browsing history. The study also discovered that customers who shopped by way of mobile browsers were often steered towards higher priced items, paying more due to price discrimination.


Online retailers collect your information. This includes your address, postal code, browsing history, credit card type, and purchase history, so it’s possible prices on your online purchases are being set based on your perceived ability to pay. Say you live in a nicer neighborhood. This could mean your shoes could go up in price by up to $5 more.


Beating dynamic pricing and other manipulative selling strategies


Well, being manipulated this way doesn’t suit me or my budget. Thankfully, there are ways to beat this selling strategy and get the lowest price for your purchases.


  1. Always check for price changes

View an item online, then view it again a few hours later. Did you see the price change? Now compare prices using your computer and your mobile device. Some retailers may be offering a different price based on whether or not you are on a mobile device. See a price change? Then you’re looking at a case of dynamic pricing.

  1.  Set your web browser to browse Incognito

Always browse in Incognito or Private mode. This way, retailers can’t track your browsing habits and change prices based on them.

  1. Disable or Delete third-party cookies

Websites use a special piece of code called a cookie. Each cookie saved on your browser is unique and allows online retailers to track your internet browsing habits. Disabling cookies on your browser not only blocks retailers from accessing your browsing history but stops them from targeting you with advertisements.

  1. Try using a different Postal Code

During the checkout process, try using a different address. Did the price change? If it did, then clear your cookies, change your web browser, or use a mobile browser. Complete a purchase only after you have confirmed the lowest price.

  1. Compare before you buy

Look at items from competing retailers. Knowing the price history of an item and its value helps protect you from dynamic pricing.


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